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Brief Analysis of Formal Language in a Political Interview
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Brief Analysis of Formal Language in a Political Interview


Hey everyone, I hope you are enjoying your school holidays and are well rested and ready to embrace the grind that term 2 always proves to be. Most students are starting to study formal language, so I thought I’d write an article based on a recent piece of formal language. By recent, I mean yesterday (April 9) and I will be just discussing a few formal language features in Julie Bishop’s (Australia’s foreign affairs minister) interview with the Today Show.

A transcript of the interview can be found here: https://foreignminister.gov.au/transcripts/Pages/2018/jb_tr_180409b.aspx

Given the significant position that she holds within Australia and the prestige of her office, the use of formal language is appropriate and bordering on necessary as she needs to portray herself as being intelligent and worth listening to.

The first feature I would like to discuss is Ms Bishop’s extensive use of political jargon. Throughout the interview, Ms Bishop uses terms such as minister, Prime Minister, budget and backbencher throughout the interview and this jargon primarily serves to help her establish her expertise within the field of politics, particularly Australian politics. Additionally, it also helps her to communicate succinctly and efficiently with the interviewer and the audience as the time available for the interview is very limited and it is a bit quicker to say, “backbencher,” than it is to say, “member of the government (in this case) without a ministerial position.” Jargon also serves various other purposes in general and in this specific interview, but this is a short article and none of us have all day. (We are coming to a good time for jargon use in politics with the federal budget being next month, so pay attention to Scott Morrison (https:////sjm.ministers.treasury.gov.au/) and Malcolm Turnbull’s (https://www.pm.gov.au/media) transcripts).

Additionally, I would also like to very briefly discuss Karl’s use of honorifics to acknowledge Ms Bishop’s title at the end of the interview. By addressing Ms Bishop as, “foreign minister,” he is acknowledging that she is a senior figure in Australian politics, thus not only respecting her negative face needs, but also reinforcing the fact that there is a social distance between the pair.

Throughout this interview, Ms bishop uses various other features, such as using declarative sentence types (primarily) to convey information such as that Tony Abbott is getting on with his job as a backbencher (and member for Warringah) and various sentence structures to enable her to convey information in particular ways, as well as helping her discourse to flow well and come across as more sophisticated.

Anyway, there is more in this text, but I have a world limit and a million things to do, so I hope you found that useful and I’ll have one more article for you before the end of the month.


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