Power and solidarity revisited: the acquisition and use of personal pronouns in modern English and Dutch

Blackwell, Susan (2007). Power and solidarity revisited: the acquisition and use of personal pronouns in modern English and Dutch. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This dissertation applies corpus linguistics techniques to reveal patterns in the acquisition and use of personal pronouns. Setting out from Brown and Gilman's mould-breaking study of "the pronouns of power and solidarity", it argues that their focus on the metaphorical use of plurality in the second-person cannot account for the numerous ways in which canonical pronoun usage is routinely violated by both children and adults. Nonetheless, the concepts of power and solidarity remain productive ones and can help to account for the patterns revealed here.
The first part of the thesis uses data from the CHILDES database to argue that 1st / 2nd person 'reversals' are a common feature of language acquisition which is not unique to children on the autistic spectrum. It also examines pronoun substitutions in the 'caregiver speech' of the mothers and finds a number of differences between the groups studied.
The second part uses original purpose-built corpora of English and Dutch party election broadcasts to explore how power and solidarity are constantly re-negotiated in political discourse. The patterns of pronoun use are discussed in their social context, and it is found that amateur as well as professional politicians are adept at exploiting the pragmatic versatility of pronouns.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Humanities
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PF West Germanic
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/1785


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