Persuasive language

Authored by: David Hann

The Routledge Handbook of English Language Studies

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138913455
eBook ISBN: 9781351001724
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines persuasive language by, firstly, interrogating its nature, a nature where the interaction between receiver and text is of particular significance. It then provides a brief historical perspective by looking back to the study of persuasion by Aristotle, whose influence in the Western tradition of thought can be felt to the present day. The different ways in which persuasion has been understood and conceptualised in the field of applied linguistics are then explored, from those frameworks where the focus is primarily on persuasive texts, such as stylistics, to those which are more cognitive in orientation, emphasising the effect of such texts on the receiver. The chapter also looks at how the field is reacting to a changing and interconnected world where persuasive texts are often shaped by the meeting of the local and global, and where the place of English as the world’s lingua franca and pre-eminent language of political and commercial persuasion has been cemented, at least for now, by rapid advances in telecommunications. Finally, possible avenues of future investigation are mooted and a case made for the importance of persuasion and its study for the health and wellbeing of society.

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