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East, West and Westminster: A corpus-based study of UK foreign policy statements regarding the unification of Germany, October 1989 to November 1990

Author:

Stephen Appleton

University of Birmingham, GB
About Stephen
Stephen Appleton is a Doctoral Researcher in Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham. His research analyses how the UK government's foreign policy discourse has changed over time. By using corpus linguistic techniques to track lexical change, his work provides insights into changing conceptualisations of the nature, purpose and priorities of foreign policy discourse.
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Abstract

This paper is a study of the language used to articulate UK foreign policy regarding the unification of Germany. It identifies events which drove changes in UK policy and explores changes in ministers’ discourse as the government’s policy evolved. The primary source material is a bespoke corpus extracted from Hansard, the official report on proceedings in the UK Parliament. It comprises the words attributed to the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and his ministerial team between October 1989 and November 1990.

The paper identifies lexical items that are more frequent in speeches and statements relating to Germany than in the corpus as a whole and which display a large change in frequency within the period. Through quantitative and qualitative analysis, it identifies distinct features of ministers’ discourse that correlate with phases of policy. These include the prominence of Germany in ministers’ discourse; ministers’ lexical choices; and changes in the seniority of the ministers delivering the discourse. It also identifies one aspect of ministers’ discourse that does not change in a way that correlates with phases of policy: their descriptions of the Warsaw Pact.
How to Cite: Appleton, S. (2021). East, West and Westminster: A corpus-based study of UK foreign policy statements regarding the unification of Germany, October 1989 to November 1990. Journal of Corpora and Discourse Studies, 4, 39–62. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jcads.52
Published on 30 Apr 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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