‘Other’ representation

Nikolas Coupland
Table of contents

Representations in general, and most obviously representations through language, are a clear-cut instance of the semiotic mediation of social life, and hence an important focus for pragmatics. The concept of ‘the other’ is less obviously central to pragmatics, although it is increasingly used to explain how texts and practices position individuals and groups, especially as ways of deprecating or socially excluding them. In this chapter I shall first comment on the process of representation itself, then trace how the concept of ‘the other’ has developed historically and in more recent usage. The main body of the chapter will outline several of the most important discourse processes through which social distancing and what we might call ‘othering’ are achieved.

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