VERBAL AND PARAVERBAL CRITICISM: A DISCURSIVE STUDY OF GERMAN AND UKRAINIAN ELECTORAL SPEECHES

Authors

  • Olha O. Varetska National University "Odessa Law Academy", Ukraine

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.32589/2311-0821.1.2020.207242

Keywords:

co-speech gestures, kinetic means, political discourse, political criticism, Germany, Ukraine

Abstract

Abstract
The article examines the role of verbal and paraverbal means in conveying critical evaluation, based upon electoral
speeches of German and Ukrainian politicians. The paper contains an overview of the types, forms and functions
of criticism in political discourse. The study highlights the linguistic and, in a narrower context, discursive contrasts
detectable in German and Ukrainian political criticism. Furthermore, the kinetic means of highlighting critical
statements in the electoral debates under analysis are specified.

Résumé
The article represents a discursive study of verbal and paraverbal means of conveying critical
assessment based on electoral speeches of German and Ukrainian politicians. The paper contains
an overview of the types, forms and functions of criticism in political discourse. The study highlights
the linguistic and, in a narrower context, discursive contrasts detectable in German and Ukrainian
political criticism. Furthermore, the kinetic means of highlighting critical statements in the electoral
debates under analysis are specified. The study corpus includes overall 10 hours of the video
featuring electoral speeches in German (A. Merkel and M. Schulz) and Ukrainian (V. Zelenskyi and
P. Poroshenko). Through the identification experiment, 500 critical discourse fragments were singled
out in German and Ukrainian, containing 340 relevant co-speech gestures supporting critical utterances
in the two languages; they were analyzed in terms of the types of co-speech gesture, hand shape, palm
orientation, movement direction, and movement trajectory. The study reveals that the Ukrainian
politicians are more emotional in electoral debates and support their critical assessments with impulsive
co-speech gestures using one or both hands, nods, body movements and pointing the index finger
directly at their opponent. At the same time, the German politicians display a calmer paraverbal
behaviour, attaching more importance to the verbal component of the critical assessment. Such
differences can be explained by the cultural traditions of political criticism in Germany and Ukraine:
they depend on the mental and cultural characteristics of politicians, their motivational guidelines
for critical rhetoric as well as on the personal rhetorical competence of the speaker, the degree
of eloquence of his/her speech, etc.

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