Out-Side-Text Knowledge: A Critical Discussion of Its Importance in the Analysis and Comprehension of Political Discourse

Taher Ben Khalifa


The relation between knowledge and discourse is a problematic one. While speaking, we may activate one part of our knowledge and leave anther one silent to serve the coherence of what we seek to convey. Having this in mind, this paper seeks to discuss the importance of out-side-text knowledge in the analysis and comprehension of political discourse. To study this issue, concern is devoted to two axes of discussion. First, focus is given to the analysis and discussion of some key concepts to form a workable frame for the study. It also seeks to high-light the boundaries between interpretation and over-interpretation. Second, focus shifts to the analysis of some examples to put into practice the tools of the established approach. Also, the extent to which the knowledge we activated served to produce worthwhile interpretations is questioned. The selected examples are taken from presidential speeches delivered by Bush, Obama, and Trump. The method we used consists of two phases: one simple and the other complex. In phase one, the meaning the speaker sought to convey is decoded based on the types of knowledge he activated. In phase two, we activated the knowledge we have about the context of each speech to communicate the un-said. While doing this, we used the logic of critique to avoid over-interpreting the examples. The results showed that our activation of the required knowledge served to demystify what the speakers hide and to work out deception by highlighting the gap between discursive reality and social reality. It is also proved that the issue of boundaries between interpretation and over-interpretation remains a matter of critique. Though bringing valuable contributions to the critical study of language in use, the paper left the doors open for further research on how to use out-side-text knowledge to communicate the un-said.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/assc.v1n2p101


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