AbstractThis research investigates the interplay between the reported voices in news articles reporting the Ethiopian-Egyptian conflict over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). It addresses a central research question: can the public hold the government accountable for their decisions at times of conflict? The hypothesis here is that the interplay between the reported voices which I call voice fusion (VF) affects the public’s reception/perception of the officials’ discourse and hence possibly their ability to hold them accountable. To investigate this question, I collected newspaper articles that report on the GERD conflict between 2010 and 2019 from Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper, an Egyptian national broadsheet that is published in English. I chose this stretch of time which covers the conflict from its beginning to examine the patterns and the effects of this voice fusion in the light of the different conflict events. Yet, for the purposes of this qualitative investigation, I focused on the news articles that cover one presidential era between 2012 and 2013. I also incorporated the Critical Stylistics approach into the theoretical framework of Critical Discourse Analysis to examine the correlation between the textual functions of the voice fusion patterns and their conceptual effects.
The research showed that VF occurs at the textual level due to two linguistic features, namely blending and prioritizing. Blending different speech modes in the long stretches of discourse was found to create ambiguity about the agency of some of the reported speech. Also, prioritizing different linguistic structures at the beginning and throughout the news articles was found to create ambiguity about the role of the reported voices (e.g., official, reporter or expert). The textual functions of both features were found to likely affect the reading experience. The ambiguity about the discourse agency in blending was found to increase the possibility of attributing the agency of some of the reported speech to certain voices yet with no linguistic proof that proves this agency which I call perceived agency. Similarly, the ambiguity about the voice role in prioritizing different information structures was found to increase the possibility of attributing the qualification of some of the reported voices to other voices yet again with no linguistic proof that proves this qualification, which I call perceived qualification. Both perceived agency and perceived qualification were found to result in perceived accountability based on which no voices can be held accountable for the information reported in these ambiguous instances.
|Date of Award
|9 Sep 2023
|Sarah Falcus (Main Supervisor)