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Applying Cognitive Linguistics to Political Text and Images: The case of the far-right British National Party
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages.
2014 (English)In: Book of Abstracts: The First Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS-2014) September 25-27, 2014 Lund University, 2014, 83-84 p.Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There is today a growing interest in integrating theories and models subsumed under the label Cognitive Linguistics with critical approaches to discourse. Recently, Hart (2011a, 2011b, 2013) has broken new ground by combining theories of Cognitive Linguistics (Croft & Cruse, 2004; Langacker, 1987; Talmy, 1988) with Critical Discourse Analysis (see e.g. Meyer & Wodak, 2009). This has rendered critical enquiries more systematic and helped us understand the cognitive underpinning of powerful language, but such approaches often focus on text rather than image.

This paper presents an analysis of the use of images in political texts published by the extreme-right nationalist British National Party (BNP). The BNP is to date the most successful extreme-right party in British electoral history and the only one to have been represented in the European Parliament. The BNP also pioneered the use of multimodal features in political online material where the different semiotic resources also clearly have different functions (see Copsey, 2008 and Goodwin, 2011 for general accounts of the BNP).

This case study complements Hart’s (2013) approach with blending theory (Fauconnier & Turner, 2002) in order to better understand how the BNP constructs what is traditionally called in-groups and out-groups using text and images. The analysis is aided by corpus linguistics methods, which allows for systematic and rigorous annotation of relations between semiotic forms and underpinning cognitive processes. By focusing on the interaction of text and image in news articles published by the BNP, this paper argues that the party has pioneered the aestheticization of the far-right and that BNP images express what cannot be expressed using words. Furthermore, using blending theory, it is argued that BNP adversaries are not so much real social actors as synthetic hate objects emerging from a generic mental space of enmity.

The findings of this paper have important implications for our understanding of group formation and can be generalized to other forms of right-wing and nationalist parties. By combining blending theory and critical approaches, we can study the construction of political enmity and out-groups and thus dismantle arguments used against these “enemies”. Furthermore, as an empirically oriented form of the emerging field of Cognitive Semiotics, the methodological synthesis presented here suggests one way in which cognitive theories can be applied to matters of rising social concern.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. 83-84 p.
Keyword [en]
Cognitive Linguistics, Discourse-Historical Approach, Critical Discourse Analysis, Far right, national identity
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Humanities, Linguistics; Social Sciences, Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-40087OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-40087DiVA: diva2:787986
Conference
The First Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics (IACS-2014) September 25-27, 2014 Lund University
Available from: 2015-02-12 Created: 2015-02-12 Last updated: 2015-07-29Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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