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Stylistic Analysis and Authors' Assumptions in Nuclear Discourse, Working Paper No. 17, First Conference on Discourse, Peace, Security, and International Society


This study suggests the value of a "multi-feature/multi-dimension" method of discourse analysis (Biber in press) to the study of nuclear discourse by reporting some of the results of a pilot study of four different written texts about the nuclear dilemma. The quantitative results showthe texts to differ in their uses of groups of concurring linguistic features and motivate a microanalysis of the texts seeking to discern the author's underlying assumptions about the relations of the United States and the Soviet Union to each other and to their nuclear weapons. The results also extend the work of James Wertsch (1987) in constructing a typology of modes ofnuclear discourse by (1) describing concrete lexical and syntactic variation between nuclear discourse texts and between nuclear discourse, as a subgenre, and other written and spoken genres of English, (2) ascribing general rhetorical strategies to different authors' "styles" of nuclear discourse identified by the quantitative analysis, and (3) associating these "styles" of nuclear discourse with some aspects of the authors' world-views which form their cognitive foundations.

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