, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 269-287

“If you and I, if we, in this later day, lose that sacred fire...”: Perspective in Political Interviews

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It is argued in the following that the dialogical complexity of speaker perspective requires a broad empirical analysis. To date, such analyses, particularly of political discourse, have been couched in terms of narrower concepts, such as self-presentation and political positioning or involvement/distancing, and have been typically carried out by means of qualitative methods applied to pronominal usage. The present research applies complementarily both quantitative and qualitative analyses to BBC television interviews of Shimon Peres (January 29, 2001) and of Edward Said (October 18, 2000) by Tim Sebastian in a program entitled HARDtalk. In addition to pronouns, these analyses include a number of other hypothetical indicators of a broad concept of perspective on the part of both interviewer and interviewees: turn-initial words, hesitations, questions, use of yes and no, personal reference utterances (e.g., I think), interjections, number of syllables spoken, and interruptions and overlaps. Quantitative comparisons of interviewer with interviewee revealed important differences on all these measures. Qualitative analyses also confirmed subtle local dynamics of perspective. Accordingly, the findings are interpreted within a general theoretical concept of perspective, derived from Bakhtin's (1981) dialogicity.