“Those are not my words”: Evasion and metalingual accountability in political scandal talk



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Pragmatics
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2020.01.003
Description This article examines the issue of evasion in mediatized political interviews in the context of right-wing populist politics. As public figures, politicians are held accountable not only for their actions but also for their prior statements. Such ‘metalingual accountability’ applies to public contexts as well as utterances made in more private situations. Based on a case-study analysis of leaked conversations with a local populist politician and a subsequent follow-up media interview, the article identifies several metapragmatic strategies that are available to interviewees aiming to evade and deny utterances originally made in the backstage region. The findings indicate that equivocation and evasiveness arise from the politicians' need to mitigate the degree of face threat. This need is particularly acute where backstage honesty can lead to frontstage scandal, as in racist comments against certain ethnic groups, whereby the speaker's status as a publically acceptable politician is in danger.
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