Verbal Aggression in Statements Made by the Authorities (based on materials from the “Word of the Year” contests)
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Government-Society Dialogue the Language of Power “Word of the Year” Competition Verbal Aggression The Us/Them Contraposition the Lexicon of War Xenophobia the Search for Internal “Enemies” Taboo Pronouncements One-Sided Communication

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Kornienko, A. (2022). Verbal Aggression in Statements Made by the Authorities (based on materials from the “Word of the Year” contests). Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 4(4), 143-159.


This paper sets out the results of a sociolinguistic study of statements made by representatives of the modern Russian political elite, based on materials drawn from Russia’s annual “Word of the Year” competition. The acuteness of the problem of a lack of direct bilateral dialogue between government and society advances the academic task of analyzing the discourse of power and defining its key characteristics, so as to assess the readiness of leading politicians to either establish such a public dialogue, or completely abandon it. The research focused on the phenomenon of verbal aggression and its quest in the statements made by those in power as the paramount verbal attitude, testifying against any orientation towards constructive communication with all parts of society. Semantic analysis of lexical units which have won the “Word of the Year” competition in recent years (words, expressions, phrases extracted from the discourse of power) found indicators of verbal aggression. The statements of the authorities are characterized by the WE/THEY opposition, contraposing Russia to the West, military vocabulary, the contraposition of OURS/THEIRS, pointing to the search for internal “enemies”, substantive and evaluative opposition to the power of the people, sometimes in the form of morally offensive expressions. The results of the analysis indicate the rejection by the authorities of the principle of dialogue and the verbal aggression that arises from this rejection, leading to an increase in social tension in a society divided through the efforts of the political elite into evaluatively polarised “Ours” and “the Others”.
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