Political Language of the Second Wave
This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.
Hello everyone, I hope that stage 4 lockdown is treating you as well as possible, and that remote learning is not proving to be too much of a hassle. Given what is going on, I thought that my September article should again focus on some of the language we are seeing surrounding the epidemic. This article will focus on the language used by some of our state politicians.
*Disclaimer: This is an apolitical article, with a strict focus on language. None of this language in any way reflects the political opinions of Learnmate Tutoring, the author, or anyone associated with the organisation.*
Firstly, I will address some of the language used by the Victorian Premier (Daniel Andrews) in his various press conferences. Almost exclusively, the Premier has adhered to the conventions of Standard Australian English. Given the role that the Premier holds, and the significance of his daily briefings, an adherence to the standard is appropriate and would be expected by a vast majority of Victorians. Additionally, the Premier has also sought to maintain and support the positive face needs (need to be liked, appreciated, acknowledged) of Victorians. He is doing this to try and promote the importance of following the instructions he is delivering. For example, on a daily basis, the Premier thanks every person who went and got tested for COVID-19, by acknowledging their, ‘powerful contribution,’ to the state’s fight against the virus. By using the positively connotated adjective, ‘powerful,’ the Premier is showing people who have been tested that they are appreciated, and to encourage more Victorians who may be even mildly symptomatic to go and get tested themselves.
Furthermore, the Premier has also used the collective possessive determiner, ‘our,’ when discussing the state’s fight against the Novel Coronavirus. This is being done to promote a sense of unity and solidarity among Victorians, which he hopes will promote a sense of collective responsibility among Victorians, when it comes to following the rules and trying to reduce the number of infections. Moreover, adjectives with strong negative connotations are also used to describe the novel Coronavirus, such as, ‘wicked,’ and, ‘wildly infectious.’ This is largely done to make it clear to Victorians how serious the situation is, and how serious it could be if the situation were to get out of control, as well as to further promote a sense of unity among all Victorians, because the fight against the virus requires virtually every Victorian to follow the rules announced by the Premier, on the advice of the Chief Health Officer.
Aside from the Premier, the language of various members of the state opposition are also worthy of attention. The member for Kew (Tim Smith) has been particularly vocal in his criticism of the state government. Mr Smith has repeatedly referred to this second wave as a, ‘Dandemic,’ obviously blending the Premier’s name (Dan) with the word used to describe a global health crisis (Pandemic). This blend is largely used to show his opposition to some of the government’s policies into the crisis, and to try and perhaps more significantly from a political perspective, to try and associate the deeply harmful second wave with the Premier. A key aspect of the Liberal Party’s identity is that they are opposed to the Labor Party, so creating the dichotomy that Mr Smith is seeking to create here plays a role in promoting that identity. In a very similar way, he (and other opposition MPs) have referred to the second wave as being a, ‘Dan made disaster.’ The use of these language techniques also serves the additional purpose of trying to build solidarity and a sense of unity among Victorians affected by this second wave, which he hopes in turn will lead to enough Victorians deciding that they would rather vote for the Coalition, at the next state election (in November 2022).
Anyway, I hope that this has helped, and I will have another article for you in October.
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