The theme of crisis, and consequently of crisis response, has been extensively studied within the disciplines of crisis communication (see Rachfał (2013a) for an overview of crisis communication as an independent academic discipline and its place among other allied sub-disciplines of public relations) and public relations with the aim of protecting organisations or reducing the damage caused by a crisis episode (Fediuk, Pace and Botero, 2010). Nowadays, with the growing recognition of crisis response as persuasive communication there is a need for an interdisciplinary approach which would help researchers understand the effects that crisis messages have on the perceptions and behaviours of stakeholders. Therefore, this paper seeks to bridge the aforementioned disciplines and examines crisis from the perspective of linguistics. Thus, it analyses grammatical stance-marking devices (Biber, et al., 1999), which might provide insights into how speakers manipulate linguistic resources for persuasive purposes. The paper focuses on explicit stance attribution and explores how the first-person plural pronoun we is used in crisis response to alter the stakeholders’ perceptions concerning people and events. The analysis draws on statements issued in 2011 by people in top public positions in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
AGLE B.R. MITCHELL R.K. and SONNENFELD J.A. 1999. Who matters to CEOs? An investigation of stakeholder attributes and salience corporate performance and CEO values. Academy of Management Journal vol. 42 no. 2 pp. 507-525.
BENOIT W.L. 1995. Accounts excuses and apologies: A theory of image restoration. Albany: State University of New York Press.
BIBER D. et al. 1999. Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow: Longman.
COOMBS W. T. 1995. Choosing the right words: The development of guidelines for the selection of the “appropriate” crisis response strategies. Management Communication Quarterly no. 8 pp. 447-476.
DE RYCKER A. and DON Z. D. eds. 2013. Discourse and crisis. Critical perspectives. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
FAHNESTOCK J. 2011. Rhetorical style. The uses of language in persuasion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
FEDIUK T. A. PACE K. M. and BOTERO I.C. 2010. Crisis response effectiveness: Methodological considerations for advancement in empirical investigation into a response impact. In: W.T. Coombs and S.J. Holladay eds. The handbook of crisis communication. Malden MA: Wiley-Blackwell pp. 205-221.
GOFFMAN E. 1967. Interaction ritual: Essays in face-to-face behaviour. Garden City NY: Doubleday.
GRUBNER H. 1993. Political language and textual vagueness. In: Ch. Briggs F. Brisard Y. Fujii H. Grubner S. Marmaridou R. Marquez Reiter and G. Senft eds. Pragmatics. 3.1. Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association pp. 1- 28.
HARRÉ R. 1985. Persuasion and manipulation. In: T.A. van Dijk ed. Discourse and communication. New approaches to the analysis of mass media discourse and communication. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter pp. 126-143.
HEATH R. L. and MILLAR D. P. 2004. A rhetorical approach to crisis communication: Management communication processes and strategic responses. In: D.P. Millar and R.L. Heath eds. Responding to crisis. A rhetorical approach to crisis communication Mahwah New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers pp. 1-19.
KAMPF Z. 2009. Public (non-) apologies: The discourse of minimizing responsibility. Journal of Pragmatics vol. 41 pp. 2257- 2270.
LERMAN C. L. 1985. Media analysis of a presidential speech: Impersonal identity forms in discourse. In: T.A. van Dijk ed. Discourse and communication. New approaches to the analysis of mass media discourse and communication. Berlin New York: Walter de Gruyter pp. 185-215.
LYONS J. 1968. Introduction to theoretical linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
RACHFAŁ E. 2013a. Where crisis communication meets linguistics. Topics in Linguistics no. 11 pp. 40-50. Available at: www.kaa.ff.ukf.sk/en/2012-01-19-16-21-04/topics-in-linguistics RACHFAŁ E. 2013b. Responding in times of crisis: A study of the “News International Phone Hacking Scandal” (unpublished PhD dissertation).
SEEGER M. et al. 2005. Post-crisis discourse and organizational change failure and renewal. Journal of Organizational Change Management vol. 18 no. 1 pp. 78-95.
TERKOURAFI M. 2007. Toward a universal notion of face. In: I. Kecskes ed. Explorations in pragmatics. Linguistic cognitive and intercultural aspects. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter pp. 313-339.
TORODE B. 1976. The revelation of a theory of the social world as grammar. In: R. Harré ed. Life sentences. London: Wiley.
ULMER R. R. SEEGER M. W. and SELLNOW T. L. 2007. Post-crisis communication and renewal: Expanding the parameters of post-crisis discourse. Public Relations Review vol. 33 no. 2 pp. 130-134.
ULMER R.R. SELLNOW T.L. and SEEGER M.W. 2011. Effective crisis communications. Moving from crisis to opportunity. Los Angeles London New Dheli Singapore Washington DC: Sage.
WARE B. L. and LINKUGEL W. A. 1973. They spoke in defence of themselves: On the generic criticism of apologia. Quarterly Journal of Speech vol. 59 pp. 273-283.