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Ideological variation in political style and emotive strategy of metaphor

Christ’l De Landtsheer, Dieter Vertessen

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Political rhetoric and metaphor have since Antiquity been used as a way of ‘symbolic’ government. In their persuasive efforts, political and ideological groups around the world, granted special role to metaphor and emotive style. Is it true that radical groups would prefer more powerful emotive “metaphor” style compared to mainstream (centrist) political groups? This article focuses on political ideology as one aspect of the political that is expected to influence political language. As can be learned from the theory part, the article aims to establish traces of political ideologies in political language. Focus is on metaphor as a symbol of emotive strategy within political party rhetoric. The article details the style analysis method for examining the ideology of metaphor. The empirical part consists of a Belgian case that relies upon two written press interview samples with politicians of 918,515 words and one television news sample with 255 minutes of politicians’ speech. The analysis supports the hypothesis that parties that approach the extremes of the political spectrum distinctively use more “metaphor” style compared to those in the middle of it.

Keywords: political metaphor – Belgian politics – language – ideology