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Climatic Change

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 417–430 | Cite as

Arguing for climate policy through the linguistic construction of narratives and voices: the case of the South-African green paper “National Climate Change Response”

  • Kjersti FløttumEmail author
  • Øyvind Gjerstad
Article

Abstract

The purpose of the present paper is to examine a selection of macro- and micro-linguistic features (at text and sentence/word level respectively) of the South-African Green Paper “National Climate Change Response” from 2010. Our overarching assumption is that the Green Paper needs to handle competing interests, beliefs and voices in a narrative structure favouring specific courses of action. How does the government portray the complex natural and societal phenomenon of climate change, and how does it take into account the many and often competing national and international views and interests which come into play? Our hypothesis is that the Green Paper constructs a narrative and that it relates to a number of voices other than that of the authors, through linguistic markers of polyphony, such as negation, sentence connectives, adverbs and reported speech. Thus we propose a narrative and polyphonic analysis of the Green Paper, at the level of the text as a whole (macro-level) but also with attention to linguistic constructions of polyphony or “multi-voicedness” (micro-level). We find that the narrative-polyphonic properties of the Green Paper contribute to a strategy for building consensus on climate change policy. The South African government assumes the role of main hero in its own climate change “story”, and there are subtle forms of interaction with different and typically non-identified voices, such as concessive constructions and presuppositions. These results support our overarching interpretation of the whole document as striving to impose a South African consensus on the issue of climate change.

Keywords

Climate Change Impact Concession Green Paper Address Climate Change Collective Voice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Abbreviations

CC

Climate change

SA

The Republic of South Africa

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BergenBergenNorway

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