Strategic use of nouns and pronouns in public discourse
The case of the fine-tuning of the medium of instruction policy in Hong Kong
This paper discusses how the first person pronouns ‘I’ and ‘We’ and the two proper nouns ‘the Education Bureau [EDB]’ and ‘the Government’ were used strategically by government officials in an attempt to delineate the level of involvement and commitment of the officials themselves, the EDB and the Hong Kong Government in the course of implementing and fine-tuning the medium-of-instruction policy in Hong Kong’s secondary schools. The data comprises the speeches delivered at various formal educational occasions and the documents issued and distributed to various stakeholders of the secondary education in Hong Kong. The clauses having these pronouns and proper nouns as either the Agent or Beneficiary were identified and examined in order to find out: (1) the level of commitment of the officials/administrative entities with reference to the process types used; (2) the level of commitment of these officials/administrative entities with reference to the modality level chosen; (3) the power status of the officials/administrative entities; and (4) the specific role, if any, played by the officials/administrative entities. Systemic functional grammar was the framework being drawn upon in undertaking the analysis.
Available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) 4.0 license.
Published online: 01 March 2013
Bull, Peter, and Anita Fetzer
(2006) Who are we and who are you? The strategic use of forms of address in political interviews. Text & Talk 26.1: 3-37. BoP
Education Bureau, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government
(2009) Education Bureau Circular No. 6/(2009) Fine-tuning the medium of instruction for secondary schools.
Education Commission, Hong Kong Government
(1989) Language and Power. London: Longman. BoP
(1993) Critical discourse analysis and the marketization of public discourse: The universities. Discourse and Society 4.2: 133-168. BoP
Fetzer, Anita, and Peter Bull
(1981) Forms of Talk. Oxford: Blackwell. BoP
Halliday, Michael, and Christian Matthiessen
(2010b) Constructing identities through request e-mail discourse. Journal of Pragmatics 421: 2253 – 2261. BoP
Hodge, Robert, and Gunther Kress
(1988) Social Semiotics. Cambridge: Polity Press. BoP
(2004) On the use of the personal pronoun we in communities. Journal of Language and Politics 3.1: 27-52. BoP
(1994) The theory of territory of information: The case of Japanese. Journal of Pragmatics 211: 67-100. BoP
(2001) English generic we, you and they: An analysis in terms of territory of information. Journal of Pragmatics 331: 1111-1124. BoP
Proctor, Katarzyna, and Lily Su
(2011) The 1st person plural in political discourse - American politicians in interviews and in a debate. Journal of Pragmatics 431: 3251-3266. BoP
(1990) Politically Speaking. Oxford: Blackwells. BoP
Wilson, Andrew, and David Zeitlyn
(1995) The distribution of person-referring expressions in natural conversation. Research on Language & Social Interaction 28.1: 61–92. BoP
(1994) A pragmatic analysis of the use of person deixis in political discourse. Journal of Pragmatics 211: 339–383. BoP
Cited by 4 other publications
Zahrah, Fatima, Jason R. C. Nurse & Michael Goldsmith
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 17 april 2022. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.