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Constructing evidence at Prime Minister's Question Time: An analysis of the grammar, semantics and pragmatics of the verb see

Authors
  • Reber, Elisabeth
Type
Published Article
Journal
Intercultural Pragmatics
Publisher
De Gruyter Mouton
Publication Date
Jul 23, 2014
Volume
11
Issue
3
Pages
357–387
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1515/ip-2014-0017
Source
De Gruyter
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Constructing evidence constitutes a practice to establish the speaker's authority at Prime Minister's Question Time (PMQT), a weekly half-hour session in the British House of Commons. Here the verb see constitutes a resource for both the questioning Leader of the Opposition (LO) and Members of Parliament (MP) as well as for the responding Prime Minister (PM) to claim first-hand perceptual experience. This paper takes an integrated approach, offering a combined analysis of the grammatical formatting, semantics and pragmatics of the verb see in the context of evidential moves at PMQT. It shows how the verb see is functional in referring to the perceptual basis of a claim made and how its grammatical formatting is reflective of the contingencies of the local interactional context. The analysis is grounded in 32 sessions of PMQT (ca. 16 hrs of video-recordings). The results can be summarised as follows: 1) The evidential function of the verb is achieved through its context-specific grammatical formatting and semantics. 2) The reference to the perceptual basis of a claim evoked by see may co-occur with epistemic qualification and evaluative expressions. 3) The formatting of the verb may be indexical of the political relationship between the questioner and the responding PM.

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