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Mitigation in Prime Minister’s Questions of the British Parliament

Dawood, Areej Sadiq 2020. Mitigation in Prime Minister’s Questions of the British Parliament. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This study draws on theories and methodologies from the fields of pragmatics and parliamentary discourse studies to explore the role of mitigation as a form of politeness in the British Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons (2016-2017). Using a dataset of exchanges between the Leader of Opposition (LO) and the Prime Minister (PM), this work investigates the use of mitigation in question-response sequences; the ways in which leadership style and identity can be (re)presented, enacted and maintained by using mitigation features and strategies with respect to appropriate parliamentary language. Therefore, qualitative and pragmatic approach is adopted building on insights from traditional approaches to politeness and from the discursive approach of relational work to identify the form and function of mitigation in PMQs. The findings reveal two kinds of mitigation: routinised and non-routinised linguistic features which are represented by a variety of formulaic lexicogrammatical features and discursive/ stylistic strategies. However, the use of mitigation is impacted by the confrontational interaction of PMQs, which is governed by institutional norms and conventions. Consequently, mitigation is used strategically as a means of displaying politic, appropriate behaviour to refrain from unparliamentary language. It provides an institutionally acceptable polite packaging to attenuate the negative impact of inevitable face threatening. In other words, mitigation serves to disguise the offensive effect of the leaders’ messages while making requests or responding to critical comments to show the orientation of face concerns. This allows them to project effective leadership style and leadership qualities, and thus contribute to establishing a positive image and enhance their own face among colleagues and supporters. For the questions that are addressed by the LO to the PM, the dataset represented a variety of question types that build on presupposition and implicature, which embed FTAs in the propositional content of these questions. This results in different response strategies to deal with potential threats. The findings suggest that incorporating insights from traditional with post-modern approaches contributes to uncovering the role of mitigation strategies in PMQs interaction as an excellent pragmalinguistic resource for performing indirect FTAs to the addressee while adhering to the institutional norms of conduct.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 August 2020
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2020 08:50

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