We’re talking about semantics here
Axiological condensation in the South African parliament
This article describes how procedural knowledge is produced in a meeting of the South African parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport, using concepts from Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and Legitimation Code Theory (LCT). Members of this committee argue over whether or not to amend a draft committee report and in the process co-construct procedural norms for future committee meetings. Participants on both sides of the argument use axiological condensation, in which actions and ideas are associated with each other and charged with a particular moral or affective value (Maton 2014: 130) to portray their version of the procedure to be followed as morally superior to that of their opponents. They also use axiological rarefaction (Maton 2014: 130) to reinforce their positions by making apparent concessions to those on the other side of the argument. This is revealed through an analysis of the coupling of ideation and Appraisal (Martin 2000: 161) in the logogenetic unfolding of members’ talk, combined with elements of Interactional Sociolinguistics (Gumperz 1982). The analysis suggests that axiological condensation and rarefaction in this meeting reflect competing visions of what it means to be ‘pro-democracy’ in post-apartheid South Africa.
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