Could you be more specific? Examples as crucial rhetorical tools in discourse on 'others'.

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Abstract

In everyday conversations, we frequently give an example. Yet this is seldom accompanied by any reflection on what is going on when we do so. This report tries to contribute such a reflection. It shows how examples may be marked and used in a particular discourse: oral discourse on others. The empirical material is a transcribed focus group interview with a group of Swedish students, engaged in discussing a recent trip to Warsaw. Examples may be looked upon as relatively specific. They are sometimes marked in explicit ways (for example, for instance), sometimes in implicit ways (like this ...; look at ..., take ...). Their functions are numerous. They may specify or objectify an argument, as well as mobilise associations, display attitudes, or indicate types of persons or items. Some examples are virtual; they exemplify what could happen, or what never happened. Typically, examples confirm, challenge or in other ways elaborate an argument. In this context, the speakers' national identities are under debate, but also - because of the delicacy of the discourse - their moral identities. As arguments aimed at saving ones face or shifting anothers perspective, examples are crucial. In our data, this is noticeable in speakers requests for examples as well as protests against them; others' examples can easily be considered as misleading, badly chosen or too few.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Publication series

NameCFE Working Paper Series ; 26
ISSN (Print)1403-6754

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

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