Creative Metaphors in Political Discourse. Theoretical considerations on the basis of Swiss Speeches

Abstract

This article develops a basic tool for stylistic metaphor analysis to assess the role of creative metaphors in a corpus of political speeches. Starting with a general discussion of creativity in political discourse it provides a definition and six basic strategies of creative metaphor uses. This definition and the strategies allow the identification of creative and conventional metaphors in speeches by two Swiss Federal Councillors, Christoph Blocher and Moritz Leuenberger. The data suggest that there are indeed not only differences between the speakers but also between speeches. Finally this article will discuss the contribution of stylistics to a critical assessment of speeches.

Dieser Artikel entwickelt ein grundlegendes Instrumentarium, um Metaphern stilistisch zu analysieren, und beurteilt auf dieser Basis die Rolle kreativer Metaphern in einem Korpus politischer Reden. Ausgangspunkt ist eine allgemeine Diskussion der Forschung zur Kreativität im politischen Diskurs. Auf dieser Grundlage werden kreative Metaphern definiert und sechs Strategien kreativen Metapherngebrauchs entwickelt, um kreative und konventionelle Metaphern in den Reden der zwei schweizerischen Bundesräte Christoph Blocher und Moritz Leuenberger zu untersuchen. Die Resultate weisen darauf hin, dass es nicht nur Unterschiede zwischen den Rednern, sondern auch zwischen den Reden gibt. Abschließend wird der mögliche Beitrag einer stilistischen Analyse zur kritischen Bewertung politischer Reden diskutiert.

It is not as common to talk about “creative politics” as it is to talk about “creative writing” or “creative science”. One explanation may be that the domain of politics (like many important domains in life) is too loosely organised (cf. Csikszentmihalyi 1996 :29) to allow an easy distinction of creative and non-creative ways of ‘doing’ politics. It is, nevertheless, possible for politicians to be creative in some domains (e.g. Churchill’s Nobel Prize in literature). This stylistic analysis of creative metaphors will argue that political speeches are another domain of creativity within politics. Even if speeches are essentially a spoken genre and, therefore, do not conform to prototypical examples of artistic language (cf. Carter 2004 :53), they may share several features with literary or creative texts.

However, a stylistic study of political speeches needs some justification to counter the objection that political speeches are persuasive or rhetorical, but not creative. Others might even share George Orwell’s verdict that “political writing is bad writing” ( Orwell 1968 :135).

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