A Critical Pragmatic Approach To Muslim Preachers’ Sectarian Discourse In English Contexts

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2021

303 Pages, Grade: 88


Table of Contents



List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

List of Tables

Chapter One: Introduction
1.1. Preliminaries
1.2. Problem of the Study
1.3. Aims of the Study
1.4. Hypotheses of the Study
1. 5 Procedure of the Study
1.6. Limits of the Study
1.7. Value of the Study

Chapter Two: Theoretical Framework
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Critical Pragmatics
2.2.1. CDA: A Brief Account
2.2.2. Meeting Points: CDA and Pragmatics
2.2.3. The New Approach to Pragmatics
2.3.1. Preaching Defined
2.3.2. Defining Criteria of Preaching
2.3.3. Preaching in Muslim Communities
2.3.4. Discourse of Preaching Discourse Standards in Preaching Discourse Markers in Preaching
2.3.5. Criticality in Preaching
2.3.6. Pragmemes of Preaching
2.4.1. Definition of Sectarianism
2.4.2. Sources of Sectarianism Religious Political [divide and rule] Social
2.4.3. Types of Sectarianism Cultural Sectarianism Political Sectarianism Linguistic Sectarianism [Linguicism] Religious Sectarianism
2.4.4. Approaches to Sectarianism Weber’s Ideal Type Approach Troeltsch’s Socio-cultural Approach Wilson’s Religious Subtypes Approach Stark & Bainbridge’s Movement Approach Presumed Sectarianism Approach
2.4.5. Defining Criteria of Sectarianism Linguistic Criteria Paralinguistic Properties Ideological Criteria
2.4.6. Sectarianism in Islam
2.4.7. Stages of Sectarian Discourse Rationalization and Reproduction Stage Legitimization Stage Naturalizing Sectarianism Stage
2.5. Previous Studies

Chapter Three: Methodology of Analysis
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Relevant Approaches
3.2.1. Fairclough’s Dialectical Approach
3.2.2. Wodak’s Historical Approach
3.2.3. Van Dijk’s Socio-cognitive Approach
3.2.4. Van Leeuwen’s Social Actor Approach
3.3. Critical Pragmatic Analysis (CPA)
3.4. Related Criteria
3.5. The Developed Model
3.5.1. Identifying Criteria of Sectarian Situations
3.5.2. Contextual Adaptation
3.5.3. Stage One: Forms of Sectarianism
3.5.3. Stage Two: Ideological Strategies of Naturalization
3.5.4. Stage Three: Critical Pragmatic Mechanisms

Chapter Four: Data Analysis
1.1. Introduction
4.2. Data Collection
4.3. Data Description
4.4. Contextual Adaptation
4.5. Methods of Analysis
4.6. Data Analysis
4.6.1. Qualitative Analysis Sunni British Preachers Sunni- American Preachers Shiite British Preachers Shiite American Preachers
4.6.2 Quantitative Analysis

Chapter Five: Conclusions, Recommendations, and Suggestions for Future Work
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Conclusions
5.2.1. Practical Conclusions
5.2.2. Other Conclusions
5.3. Recommendations
5.3. 1. Pedagogical Recommendations
5.3.2. Religious Recommendations
5.3.3. Political Recommendations
5.4. Suggestions for Future Work




Praise and thanks are due to Allah the Lord of all creatures, and peace and blessings are upon the Messenger Muhammad and his infallible progeny.

I would like to express the greatest gratitude and sincere thankfulness to my supervisor Prof. Dr. Fareed Hameed Al-Hindawi for his righteous guidance, supreme instructions, friendliness, and insightful comments that he made for accomplishing this work. I am highly indebted to him.

The deepest thanks are due to all my virtuous Ph.D. teaching staff of the Department English of at the College of Education for Human Sciences, University of Babylon, whose efforts are still highly inspiring me, for the honourable message they passed to my colleagues and me.

I would also like to express my genuine appreciation and indebtedness to all the figures who provided me with references and support that helped in fulfilling this work.


This study is concerned with sectarianism as a social and pragmatic act which is critically manifested by the Sunni and Shiite preachers, for which a critical pragmatic approach of analysis is introduced. It addresses how sectarian discourse, which is issued by the British and American Muslim preachers, is pragmatically conveyed and how to reproduce such sectarian discourse in order to de-sectarianize it. Certain relevant questions are raised. These questions are related to the defining criteria, ideological forms and strategies of the sectarian discourse, the pragmatic strategies, the critical pragmatic mechanisms, socio-cultural aspects used by Muslim preachers in British and American different communities to indoctrinate sectarianism, and others. The study attempts to develop a model to investigate its aims, which are concerned with providing the most frequent linguistic criteria, discovering the ideological forms and strategies, pinpointing the most outstanding pragmatic strategies, discovering the socio-cultural dimensions and variables, identifying the pragmatic functions of sectarianism and finding out the similarities and differences between the British and American contexts. These aims can be reached out through certain procedures which can be briefed as follows: reviewing the literature about criticality in pragmatics, setting operational definitions, presenting an account about the concept of sectarianism among Muslim communities, and a workable model is developed to analyze the data which are selected randomly from both of the British and the American contexts. This study introduces practical conclusions. Muslim preachers adopt ideological strategies to convey sectarianism; pragmatics plays a key role in interpreting the act of sectarian discourse critically; the preachers use socio-cultural factors as represented by the principles of politeness and impoliteness to indoctrinate and sectarianize the audience; and the British and American preachers use different identifying criteria and contextual factors.

List of Abbreviations

A = American

B = British

CDA = Critical Discourse Analysis

CP = Cooperative Principle

CPA = Critical Pragmatic Analysis

CPs = Critical Pragmatics

FSA = Face Saving Act

FTA = Face Threatening Act

PP = Politeness Principle

Q& A = Question and Answer

S = Sunni

Sh = Shiite

List of Figures

Figure 1: Chen’s (2020) Orientation of CPs Analysis

Figure 2: Structure of Pragmatic Adaptation

Figure 3: The Structure of Sectarianism

Figure 4: Identifying Criteria of Sectarian Situations

Figure 5: Contextual Adaptation of Sectarianism

Figure 6: Ideological Forms of Sectarianism

Figure 7: Stage Two: Strategies of Naturalization

Figure 8: Stage Three: Critical Pragmatic Mechanisms

Figure 9: A Model of Critical Pragmatic Analysis of Sectarianism

Figure 10: Identifying Criteria of Sectarian Discourse

Figure 11: Contextual Factors of Sectarianism

Figure 12: Forms of Sectarianism

Figure 13: Ideological Strategies of Sectarianism

Figure 14: Critical Pragmatic Mechanisms of Sectarianism

List of Tables

Table 1: A Description of the Data of the Study

Table 2: The Previous Studies on Critical Pragmatics

Table 3: Contextual Adaptation to Discourse of the Sample

Table 4: Identifying Criteria of Sectarianism

Table 5: Contextual Factors of Sectarianism

Table 6: Forms of Sectarianism

Table 7: Ideological Strategies of Sectarianism

Table 8: Critical Pragmatic Mechanisms of Sectarianism

Table 9: Analysis of the Remaining Sectarian Situations

Chapter One: Introduction

This chapter is concerned with certain preliminaries about critical pragmatics, sectarianism, and a panoramic sketch for the entire study.

1.1. Preliminaries

In his theory of pragmemes, Mey (2001: 206-35) introduces the pragmatic acts as meta-pragmatics ending with ‘critical pragmatics’, which refers to the relationship between societal powers and discourse, i.e., the pragmatic theory of action that focuses on the ‘doing’ in addition to the ‘saying’ of a communicative event. The concept of doing brings about such pragmatic notions as implicature, presuppositions, relevance, speech acts along with all sub-categories of pragmatic phenomena. This is manifested by the ideologies, authorities, or hegemony that govern the codes of conduct of certain societies to achieve such functions as indoctrination, fraud, cunning, suppression, discrimination, inequality, segregation, conflicting, brainwashing, defamation, enhancing, beatifying… to mention but a few.

This can be done with discourse (Failclaugh and Wodak, 1997: 271-280). To interpret these social practices is to show the relationship between the text and the word, i.e. the context, borrowing Halliday’s (1976) concept of context.

How to affect or impose on others’ behaviors, actions, thinking or attitudes is the core objective of the notion of criticality, as elaborated by van Dijk (2007:112).

As for the language of power which is discussed extensively by van Dijk (1995, 244-247), it is concerned with the connection between language on the one hand and thoughts and beliefs in the world on the other. It deals with how to connect what one says to what is said or what one does and what is done. It is, thus, a social practice that distinguishes one’s tendencies, thinking, religious, political, and ideological denomination. Critical discourse analysts adopt the five stages of ideology which are introduced by Eagleton (1991:47-50); these are unifying actions, rationalization, legitimation, universalization, and finally naturalization. These are the most notable consecutive stages constituting ideology.

Based on Lancaster School of critical linguistics and adopting the pioneering works by critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, van Dijk, and Woodak), Mey (2001: 315) revives an old concept of critical pragmatics as an interconnectedness of criticality and pragmatics. In other words, to reach out the intended meaning is to use the pragmatic principles along with the situated speech acts in the social contexts to uncover the underlying relationships between the texts produced by powerful speakers and the world or the addressee to be dominated through the naturalization of a given ideology (ibid: 317).

Wodak (2007: 210) supports the idea that in recent years there is an employment of specific pragmatic aspects and notions such as implicature, presupposition, allusions. when dealing with ideologies such as racism, inequality, and specific features that can be treated within political discourse. Such integration has yielded a new interdisciplinary field called critical pragmatics which can be defined as the study of conveying certain ideologies through pragmatic notions which are used as strategies (ibid).

Drawing upon models of critical discourse analysis by Fairclough (1989), Van Dijck (1995: 43-289) and Wodak (2007: 203 -225), and models of pragmatics (following Austin: 1962; Searle: 1969; Hymes: 1974; Grice: 1975 and Brown and Levinson: 1987), a critical pragmatic approach can be formulated to analyze the speaker’s intention, employed by preachers to convey a particular intention/message which can only be manifested through the context as a significant strategy to implicate negative ideologies. Pragmatics is utilized by Korta and Perry (2011: 2-4) as an attempt to deal with the referential semantics through the pragmatic concept of the context under reflexive content. They (ibid) observe the importance of implicature in relation to reference, using the notion of criticality (centrality between semantics and pragmatics) as a pragmatic strategy of influencing others through the intended choice of reference. In one way or another, it is related to critical pragmatics at a certain level.

Regarding sectarianism as an ideology, Cambridge Dictionary defines it as the strong religious or political in-group membership which may cause conflicts with other out-group individuals. Merriam Webster dictionary (online) adds the concepts of sect existence, meaning that different sects exist in different cultures and communities, supporting one’s belief rather than other. Sectarianism in the Muslim community is concerned with the two largest communities: Shiite and Sunni communities.

Focusing on community and the different beliefs, sectarian discourse could be implicated within the social as well as the ideological enterprise of the speakers of sectarianism. Al-Qarawee (2014: 3) summarizes certain aspects of Muslim sectarian discourse, referring to the sociolinguistically and ideologically manifested ones. At the level of sociolinguistics, sectarian discourse is related to different aspects; it can be adopted to enhance belonging to in-group and reject the out-group through certain utterances and attitudes of discrimination as well as prejudice, it refers to the dominance of the powerful fanatic men of religion who find themselves in a superior position to their audience.

Having the dominant and dominated concept assured, the ideological indoctrination or Islamization (within the Muslim community), brainwashing, and abusive discourse is used by those fanatic preachers, trying to lead the audience into ideological or physical conflicts (Shah, 2014: 443-5).

Preachers tackle sectarianism used by Muslims, which is usually defined as a negative ideology, in a delicate way to convey their ideologies and social practices, using underlying pragma-linguistic strategies as key elements to naturalize their powerful dominance as Roberts (2017:19) indicates.

1.2. Problem of the Study

To uncover the underlying sectarian attitudes as used by Muslim preachers, utterances are to be approached in terms of two basic notions of criticality and pragmatics, as has been noticed that this issue has not been given its due attention from this perspective. Thus, this study has set itself to address this issue as reflected by Muslim preachers in English-speaking contexts from a critical pragmatic perspective. To attain this target, the following questions need to be answered:

1. What are the most linguistic defining properties of sectarianism which are most frequently used by Muslim preachers?
2. What are the ideological forms of the sectarian discourse used by Muslim preachers?
3. What are ideological strategies used by Muslim preachers to produce sectarian discourse?
4. What are the pragmatic strategies used by Muslim preachers to convey the sectarian ideology through the critical pragmatic mechanisms?
5. What are the socio-cultural aspects used by Muslim preachers in British and American different communities to indoctrinate sectarianism?
6. What functions are expressed by the pragmatic strategies in conveying sectarianism?
7. Pragmatically speaking, how are sectarian conflicts as used by Muslim preachers unmasked, i.e. how do preachers naturalize sectarian discourse?
8. How are preachers’ power relations and social practices revealed in terms of critical pragmatics?
9. What are the critical pragmatic stages of sectarian discourse used by Muslim preachers?
10. What are the differences and similarities between the British and American contexts in terms of using sectarian discourse?

1.3. Aims of the Study

The present study aims to:

1. Provide the most frequent linguistic criteria that delimit the sectarian discourse as used by Muslim preachers.
2. Discover the ideological forms that are used by the Muslim preachers to convey sectarianism.
3. Specify the ideological strategies used by Muslim preachers.
4. Pinpoint the most outstanding pragmatic strategies that are employed by Muslim preachers to implicate sectarianism.
5. Discover the socio-cultural dimensions and variables that are used by Muslim preachers to sectarianize their audience.
6. Identify the pragmatic functions of sectarianism as an ideology employed by Muslim preachers pragmatically.
7. Critique the process of naturalization used by Muslim preachers towards their audience.
8. Reveal the critical pragmatic stages of sectarian discourse used by Muslim preachers.
9. Develop a model to analyze Muslim preachers’ sectarian utterances under critical pragmatics.
10. Find out the similarities and differences between the British and American contexts in treating sectarianism in the Muslim context.

1.4. Hypotheses of the Study

Based on the aims set above, it is hypothesized that:

1. Sectarian discourse is recognized through its identifying linguistic realizations used by Muslim preachers.
2. Sectarianism is conveyed under ideological forms representing prejudice, discrimination, intolerance, and religious fanaticism.
3. Muslim preachers adopt certain ideological strategies to assure the sectarian discourse such as enhancement, marginalization, inclusion, and exclusion.
4. Sectarian discourse is manifested through the use of particular pragmatic strategies such as presupposition, implicature, and deixis more than others.
5. Muslim preachers use identifying socio-cultural variables to sectarianize their audience.
6. Muslim preachers employ sectarianism in order to pragmatically show self-preferences and exclude others.
7. Using their naturalized power, Muslim preachers convey sectarianism to the audience in the British and American contexts.
8. A critical pragmatic framework can analyze Muslim preachers’ sectarian utterances.
9. Sectarian discourse follows critical pragmatic stages that are used by the Muslim preachers to convey sectarianism.
10. There are differences and similarities in both the British and American Muslim contexts in terms of sectarianism.

1.5 Procedure of the Study

To achieve the aims of this work and test its hypotheses, the following procedures are adopted:

1. Reviewing the literature about critical discourse analysis, its relation to pragmatics, and criticality in pragmatics setting operational definitions, types, related theories, to establish a general view of the phenomenon in question.
2. Presenting an account of the concept of sectarianism among Muslim communities along with the defining criteria in terms of socio-cultural as well as pragmatic perspectives.
3. Based on the theoretical literature review and the observations made in this work, a workable model is developed to be used in the analysis of the data which are selected randomly and according to the defining criteria in both the American and the British contexts.
4. Collecting data on sectarianism from Muslim preachers’ sermons and gatherings in the American and the British contexts. The data are taken in the form of situations from where the relevant utterances are transcribed along with all the contextual factors.
5. Quantitative methods are used for conducting a statistical analysis of the selected data. Such methods are used to objectify the results of the qualitative analysis. The quantitative analysis, on the other hand, supports and explains the findings of the qualitative analysis, as this study accepts both types of analysis.

1.6. Limits of the Study

This study is limited to the following:

1. Investigating sectarianism in relation to certain critical factors such as power, dominance, and ideology.
2. Dealing with certain pragmatic notions such as speech act theory, implicature theory, relevance theory, and politeness theory, and how such notions are manifested in the sectarian discourse.
3. Fetching the aims in all the sectarian situations in a number of selected Muslim religious sermons for a certain period. Sermons are taken from different English-speaking Muslim preachers, belonging to two English-speaking contexts (viz. British and American).
4. Sermons are selected from the two sects in Islam: Shiite and Sunni preachers in the form of spoken language in order for the adopted analytical model to be analyzed according to precise contextual factors.
5. A hundred situations are selected from the sermons of both sects to be analyzed according to the model which is to be developed by this study.

1.7. Value of the Study

It is hopeful that this study will be of value to the fields of critical studies of pragmatics, applied linguistics, and Islamic theology. Teachers, students, textbook writers, and religious analysts can make use of the findings of this study as it sheds light on the critical pragmatic side of sectarianism which is an aspect of real-life ideological situations. Following the model and the conclusions as well as the recommendations of this work, criticality in pragmatics can be of benefit when designing textbooks and teaching language. Applied linguists who work on language planning can benefit from such a study as it focuses on the discourse used to convey sectarianism, a matter that could be taken into consideration when planning for language use in multi-sect communities. Islamic preachers can also monitor their sectarian discourse in multi-sect gatherings, sessions, and contexts. Relatedly, politicians and political analysts can take a useful account in their line of work through the present study, for it is concerned with a delicate topic of sectarianism that is widely used and abused in politics.

Chapter Two: Theoretical Framework

2.1. Introduction

This chapter introduces the theoretical background of three parts which are relevant to the present study. Section one discusses critical pragmatics. Section two is concerned with the speech event of preaching and the act of preaching. Finally, the third section investigates sectarianism in terms of definition, linguistic and ideological defining criteria.

2.2. Critical Pragmatics

To have a clear contribution of the current approach among the various studies and publications regarding the phenomenon in question, this section is generally concerned with critical pragmatics as a theoretical foundation. It consists of four main sub-sections conveying the literature review of critical pragmatics. Sub-section one covers the notions of critical discourse analysis (CDA, henceforth) in terms of definitions and the most relevant approaches. Then, how to connect CDA with pragmatics is the concern of the third sub-section, i.e., the need for pragmatic accounts to bridge the gap in CDA. The third sub-section is related to the criticality in pragmatics and the issue of being pragmatically critical. Sub-section four is allocated for the previous studies on the topic and how this approach is distinguishingly different from them.

2.2.1. CDA: A Brief Account

Of late, CDA has been in constant search for new fields and disciplines in or related to linguistics as a matter of sorting out the left out problems with analysis of discourse under critical perspectives. Wodak and Chilton (2005: XI) review the models of discourse analysis (DA, henceforth) and CDA to introduce an interdisciplinary model in which various methodological aspects used in discourse are interconnected with other disciplines related in one way or the other to CDA. Accordingly, they (ibid: XII) remark that discourse becomes an interdisciplinary subfield with different disciplines; chief among them is pragmatics (ibid).

To connect CDA with other disciplines in the need, this section is a brief account on main principles, aims, its relation with ideology, and the most practical models of CDA, i.e., Failcough’s dialectical approach, Wodak’s discourse historical approach, van Dijk’s socio-cognitive approach, and Van Leeuwen’s social actor approach.

Different approaches have presented a variety of definitions to CDA, depending on the paradigm they adopt. Fairclough (1993: 134) shows two important relationships which are addressed by CDA, defining it as the relationship between discursive practices, events, and texts; and socio-cultural processes, i.e., what causes and what determines such kinds of relations.

In his definition of CDA, van Dijk (1997a: 3) focuses on the sources of power, dominance, bias, and social inequalities, remarking the reproduction of certain social contexts.

Van Leeuwen (2006: 290) attains that CDA is central to the application of different schools of linguistics, although it is highly influenced by systemic functional grammar in which language has three main functions: ideational, interpersonal, and textual (Halliday, 1997: 33).

Follower et al (1979: 185) introduce a new approach that deals with linguistics in terms of combining the hidden derives of using language and the contextual factors in order to reach out a successful interpretation. The main tool is to critically comment on a given discourse at various levels of micro and macro linguistic devices, ending with the school named critical linguistics.

The term “critical” is taken from the Frankfurt School of Philosophy which is based on Marxist thought. Critical, in this sense, represents the interpreting and explaining side which depends on the analysis of language with all the circumstances involved in the situation. The focus of such analysis is to uncover the hidden ideologies within language (Mey, 2001: 219)

Although CDA has been criticized and reviewed by many practitioners leading to points of dispute and production of various approaches, there are certain principles that are agreed upon by most of those practitioners (van Dijk, 2003: 353). These are represented by addressing the social problems, dealing with power and hegemony in terms of discursive relations, conveying ideological and socio-cultural implications, dealing with historical and contextual mediation, interpreting and explaining text (written and spoken), and dealing with social actions (ibid).

These principles delimit the objectives of CDA at the level of analyzing language as a social phenomenon, a matter that leads Ramanathan and Hoon (2014: 58) to give a panoramic view to the core objectives of CDA.

Since the emergence of CDA, four theories have provided and introduced certain models to analyze text under CDA devices; each of these models is to attempt to present a comprehensive sketch to the discourse as a social practice, as attained by Ali and Abdulkareem (2019: 28). A brief relevant account on these theories is chronologically reviewed in Chapter Three.

2.2.2. Meeting Points: CDA and Pragmatics

All the approaches aforementioned focus on three basic concepts that are interrelated: society, culture, and cognition, after the linguistic realizations and strategies are taken into account. Here, context merits full attention by CDA practitioners as it deals with all these three concepts in an overlapping manner, following van Dijk (1998b, 3). It is an integral part of society as mentioned by (Brown and Levinson, 1987) in terms of using language to show (im) politeness. It is also related to culture (following Labove, 1979) in terms of social rank, prestige, and gender sensitiveness, and it is connected to cognition at the level of the mental representations of certain socio-cultural norms (Sperber and Wilson, 1992-2004).

At the same level, contextual factors are prerequisites in the domains of pragmatics where the intention and implicature of the speaker are only uncovered through looking into the context in which the utterances are said. Such contextual factors have the ultimate influence on the social as well as the cultural aspects when it comes to language use.

With all that these approaches have introduced in hand, a straight treatment of pragmatics within discourse still needs to be explored. This can be investigated by having a closer view on the need for CDA for the pragmatic notions to have more objective interpretations, adopting Wodak’s argument in terms of needing a pragmatic level (Wodak, 2001: 2).

There are certain weaknesses leveled by critics regarding CDA on different grounds. Starting with Widdowson (1995a: 158), CDA is criticized on two levels: the need for clear delimits between text and discourse. In other words, it is ambiguous when one can regard any chunk of language as text or discourse. The other level is that CDA is viewed as a biased way of interpretation that the CDA practitioners are themselves confined to certain ideologies of their own, i.e., they cannot be liberated from the beliefs they have intentionally or unintentionally (ibid: 169).

In the same stream, Widdowson (1995b: 12-7) elaborates on finding shortcomings in CDA in terms of the arbitrariness of texts, limitations of length and representation of data, and vagueness of the concepts utilized in CDA. Regarding the text to be selected for analysis, they are selected at random in the sense that no criteria are set for the selection, a matter which leaves the analysis rather subjective than objective. Not to mention the vague notions and concepts adopted by CDA practitioners, the data selected are short to be used as representative samples for the sake of making generalizations on discourse as a social practice.

Schegoft (1996: 262) raises the problem of CDA as a strategy to interpret the ideologies more than a discipline for text analysis, concluding that context can be addressed more than other concepts as far as the CDA is concerned. This, by definition, is the core strategy to analyze texts that can have a certain attitude and /or an ideology.

Agreeing with Widdowson, Titscher et al. (2000: 53-7) state that there are certain issues in CDA that need to be addressed. Among these issues is the wide-area for which context is used in the sense that CDA employs different types of context which are taken from many linguistic theories for the analysis of discourse leading to frameworks that are not compatible with the data. On the other hand, it is difficult for discourse analysts to take no political stance in regards to the discourse under scrutiny.

Wodak and Meyer (2001: 4-5) trace the weaknesses of CDA and find that contextual factors in language use are among the utmost need to address the problems with CDA. “Context justifications”, as Wodak and Meyer (ibid: 17) indicate, represent the link between the analysis of texts and the ideological representations. Here, the contextual factors are interrelated with culture and society to lubricate the issue of analyzing discourse is rather an objective manner. Objectivity can be achieved through setting the common conventions and principles of language use [following definitions of pragmatics by Brown and Levinson, 1987].

However, to put the contextual factors as a treatment for CDA problem is to address the issue of mediation, i.e., how to use the linguistic theories and concepts to be related with the social dimensions. Such manifestations require the context not to be narrowly viewed, a problem that is raised by Wodak and Meyer (2001: 5). Accordingly, it can be indicated that the short way to bring CDA into effect is to have a relation of Inter- or transdisciplinary relation within the CDA.

As a way of finding solutions for the shortcomings of CDA, there is a mention of pragmatic notions and domains which are represented by the strategies of discourse. These are strategies of reference, argumentation, mitigation, and illocutionary forces of the utterances. All these are regarded as the core concepts in pragmatics (ibid: 27). Hence, it can be indicated that pragmatics is the justifiable mediator between discourse and ideological interpretation, following van Dijk’s (2000: 45) definition of ideological interpretation as hidden intentions conveying ideological implication.

Widdowson (2004: 97) again asserts that CDA requires modification in terms of theory and application. In other words, concepts such as action, power, and emancipation are the results of CDA, but at the same time, they are regarded as the core concepts in CDA. This way puts the reader away from an entire interpretation stage. It is deemed to associate the linguistic theories to have the CDA under systematic analysis.

An extreme criticism resulted from the arguments by Wodak and Chilton (2005: 22) in regards to the validity of CDA can be briefed under two sides: one is that there is no due attention paid by CDA to the human mind which is the core for every linguistic theorization. The second one is that focusing on cognition and the mind might lead to dispensing with CDA as a whole. The one way to follow through with what has been viewed is that it is possible by means of using the relevance theory which is one of the core pragmatic notions.

Focusing on the in-depth context and interdisciplinary approaches, Wodak (2007: 203) argues that pragmatics is a suitable approach to be followed for the solution of the pending issues of CDA. Following the indirectness and context-dependency, certain interdisciplinary notions are included such as allusion, shared knowledge, background assumptions from Searle 1970, and mutual manifestations and common sense knowledge from van Dijk (2005).

Significantly, pragmatics has a vital role in discourse analysis, especially when it comes to being critical. Ji (2009: 23) asserts that pragmatic presupposition can be employed by speakers to naturalize certain ideologies which in turn manipulate the reader’s collective mind. Here is another invitation for pragmatics to intervene in the CDA enterprise.

A recent study which deals with the centrality of pragmatics in CDA attempts to introduce all kinds of chemistry between CDA and pragmatics. Chen (2020: 25-6) justifies three points of criticisms showing why CDA needs all pragmatic notions. CDA is viewed as too subjective in the sense that most CDA practitioners are already biased and have their own prejudices, a matter where no semantic/pragmatic distinctions are manifested. Concluding the implicit ideologies through CDA is without any elaborated accounts and explanations about how certain ideologies have been come up with. The example: “Britain invaded by an army of illegals” is viewed as an implicit ideology of racism. However, there is no powerful argument as to how such ideologies are conveyed. The last criticism is that CDA is not only related to ideological manifestations, it is rather to be utilized in analyzing many other social issues that underlie the use of languages such as fraud, linguistic vulgarity, and uncertainty (ibid).

Responding to the problem that CDA is negatively oriented manifestations of certain ideologies, pragmatics can solve the issue of positive as well as negative ideologies. In other words, pragmatics can serve as a neutralizing tool of negative/positive ideologies which are hidden within discourse. It can show all types of ideologies whether positive and negative, depending on the contextual factors and the adaptability power of pragmatics, as taken from Verscheren (2009).

Accordingly, pragmatics has the explanatory power to address CDA problem more objectively. It is to be viewed as a broad strategy to analyze the discourse critically, indicating certain commonalities between pragmatics and CDA.

Finding the commonalities and differences between CDA and pragmatics, Reisgil (2007: 20-6) sketches the most general ones, focusing on the mostly interrelated three sub-disciplines of linguistics; namely, pragmatics, (critical) discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics. Such relationships are not built on super/sub ordination; rather they are in a circular systemization. In other words, these subfields can play the role of superordinate at certain levels and can be subordinate at other contexts (ibid: 13).

Specifically, Mey (2001: 6) in his classification of pragmatics puts CDA within macro-pragmatics as a sub-discipline that overlaps with social-pragmatics and intercultural pragmatics, stressing the notion of criticality in pragmatics. Verschueren (1999:7) who also includes discourse analysis under the field of pragmatics takes such a representation of CDA from the sub-division of pragmatics.

Other pragmaticians and sociolinguists such as Schiffrin (1994) and Gumperz (2001) argue against the aforementioned perspectives and attain that pragmatics is just one sub-discipline of discourse analysis. This indicates the controversial accounts on the issue of who is the father who is the son.

Apart from this controversy, one can easily judge that there is a definite relationship between pragmatics and discourse analysis. Hence, each of these disciplines needs – at a certain phase – to complement the other. Discourse analysis – as regarded as a method or methodology (Johnstone, 2002: 4) – is to have the power of analysis of different types of text in different contexts. At this point, the need for pragmatics is evidently manifested. Accordingly, CDA needs pragmatics: however, the general differences and commonalities can be identified and explained.

Following Reisigl’s observations, three general differences between pragmatics and (critical) discourse analysis are noticed (2011: 20).

The first one is that discourse analysis is viewed as a method or a group of methods that adopts certain models to analyze language use, while pragmatic is not a method. It is the language that is analyzed through the use of discourse. Hence, discourse is part of pragmatics, and it needs pragmatics to uncover the true implicature, presupposition, illocutionary forces behind the language used in different contexts.

Another difference that can bring pragmatics into the scene of CDA is that inter- and transdisciplinary aspects of discourse analysis are not applied in a fully detailed way such as in CDA which uses a considerably wide range of other linguistic and non-linguistic disciplines.

The last difference is related to the representation of pragmatics and discourse analysis in the mind. Pragmatics is cognitively represented in different places than discourse analysis. These differences necessitate the need for pragmatics as a complementary tool to support (critical) discourse analysis. This raises the commonalities at the differences and similarities between the two fields which put them in the same boat when it comes to deal with language in use (ibid: 21).

1. Both pragmatics and discourse analysis have a common dependence on context rather than the abstract use of language, i.e., they are functionally oriented rather than formally. Although how both treat context is different; pragmatics concentrates on all the practical aspects of the context in interpreting discourse (ibid: 22).
2. Although pragmatics focuses on the intended meaning and use of certain structures of utterances, it shares the aspect of utterance orientation with discourse. (Critical) discourse analysis, on the other hand, relies on utterances – though at certain levels - sentences are taken into account when it comes to the linguistic strategies used (ibid).
3. Both pragmatics and discourse analysis takes language as a social activity, following Halliday’s (1994) Systemic Functional Grammar, in that pragmatics considers social variables as the way of the speaker’s intention and to have the expected interpretation by the listener. On the same stream, discourse analysis, when having the notion of criticality takes language as a social practice which is just like other ideological social practices, as asserted by Fairclough’s (1992) terminology. Accordingly, their treatment and terms are different, but they have, in the essence, a common concept and a common objective to achieve (ibid: 23).
4. At the level of CDA, pragmatics and discourse analysis both have the feature of inter- and trans- disciplinary in the sense that these two sub-disciplines are mutually utilized to deal with other disciplines to uncover the implications of a given piece of discourse. Pragmatics has the power to deal with few other disciplines to yield detailed explanations regarding the language users’ intention, while discourse analysis takes a wide range of other fields which could naturalize other disciplines as macro-dimensions under discourse such as CDA, following Habermas, Bourdieu, and Luhmann. However, both of these two disciplines share the benefits of other disciplines.
5. In addition to the aforementioned, one can observe that, when dealing with criticality, pragmatic analysis is utilized at a certain level of its manifestations for the critical analysis. Put simply, CDA can have a precise, shortcut advantage of the pragmatic concepts such as implicature, presupposition, relevance … to mention but a few. Pragmatics reveals the hidden intentions of the language users as Levinson (1983: 4) defines pragmatics, and to uncover certain attitudes by the speaker that are expected to be interpreted suitably by the listener as Mey (2001: 7) defines macro-pragmatics. (Critical) discourse then interferes to analyze the ideological perspectives of the language user after pragmatics introduces and interprets the intention.

Thus, pragmatics and CDA have an integrative relationship which can be regarded as methods, approaches, or disciplines that have and need multi-dimensional theoretical background. Adopting multi-dimensions is exploited in revealing the hidden meanings and attitudes and to uncover the social practices such as racism, sexism, sectarianism. Apparently, CDA cannot do the job alone; with the support of pragmatics, more objectives, as well as accurate interpretation, can be yielded. This gives the right to interconnect CDA with pragmatics as Mey (2001) asserts.

2.2.3. The New Approach to Pragmatics

Mey (1985) discusses the use of pragmatic concepts and principles as strategies to implicate special intentions within particular groups of society at the level of using language. Convincingly, language use is not selected haphazardly; rather there are particular linguistic constructions and specifically pragmatic phenomena selected according to institutionalized contexts for the sake of an attitude (stance) by the speaker.

“… to find out what language is used for, you have to find out the user, and determine what makes him or her speak.” (ibid)

Not to mention the speaker’s purpose, there is the social context, i.e., the impact of certain concepts such as power, rank, gender…etc. on the use of language. These are already found in pragmatics though they are not at the terminology level- included and assimilated with criticality.

An illustrative example can be briefly commented on here, regarding power relations between language users:

A religion man advises an ordinary man using a threatening tone of voice in order to show the greatness of the act of advising. The ordinary man would not accept such a tone from any other man than the religion man. Here, power is practiced on the ordinary man, but with a normalized mode as the ordinary man takes it for granted that the religious man has power over the latter due to the religious status.

A considerable amount of arguments are also based on the Lancaster school represented by Fairclough (1989, 1992, 1995) and Wodak (2001, 2002, 2007) regarding the critical awareness of language use at the level of exercising power (Fairclough, 1992: 50). In other words, language is the most reasonable tool to exercise power at its different relative levels. This way can either enslave readers with the power of language or emancipate them when language is viewed as said by powerless speakers. The role of pragmatics is to uncover the power when it is not manifested. That is, speakers, use natural language which has no power, but it implicates powerful attitudes. Here, power is assimilated and taken for granted by the listeners (Mey, 2001: 317)

Under the topic of language and social struggle, Mey (ibid: 308) attains that it is the relationship between language (as represented by pragmatics) and the social variables (social practices, following Fairclough (1995), Wodak (1998), and van Dijk’s (2000: 44) explanations).

Three significant concepts are focused on by Mey (ibid: 310-20) through which the conclusion has been to introduce critical pragmatics (CPs, henceforth). The first concept is ‘language manipulation’ which is used as a linguistic strategy to serve certain societal, mostly negative, purposes. These purposes are embodied by ideologies and beliefs. Then, it deals with the inequalities of language used in genders in the sense that certain linguistic realizations leading to the pragmatic implications are utilized with a special social context.

Mey (ibid) coins the last concept which is pragmatics under critical scrutiny “critical pragmatics”. CPs is used in this sense as an umbrella term to cover various social inequalities and ideologies that are conveyed through the pragmatic facilitations (ibid: 315).

Elaborating on CPs, Mey (ibid) defines criticality as a strategy of reflection, stance examining, and commenting on a social practice or a situation where language is pragmatically involved, following the Frankfurt School of sociology.

“… the word ‘critical’ is often used to indicate a reflective, examining stance toward the phenomena of life. In the tradition of the social sciences, the term was introduced by the Frankfurt School of the thirties…”

Based on the Marxist-oriented criticality and to give objective manifestations as far as language is concerned, Mey (1979) remarks that CPs are introduced to approach language from a sociological point of view. “I tried to form some minimal considerations for an activity of ‘linguistic emancipation”.

Following the belief that society and social classes enslave people at all levels including language use, as a matter of showing, revealing, and uncovering the true ideology conveyed within language use, Mey (ibid) adopts the notions of Fowler et al(1979), concluding CPs.

Following the stages of ideology as introduced by Eagleton (1991: 1-33), the stage of naturalization [normalization] has been adopted as indicating how power is naturalized by those who exercise it. Apparently, prior to language production by the speaker, listeners take it for granted that such speakers are powerful due to certain social status which in a way or another affects their language use.

Here, it is justifiable to briefly mention the stages of how ideology is produced and naturalized, i.e., covered with language use to convince others of the ideology that the language producer believes in. This can be viewed as essential for the full understanding of power and naturalization which are two key concepts in this study.

Different definitions and approaches have been provided to the concept of ideology. At the level of linguistics and society (sociolinguistics), definitions are ranging between negative and positive ideas and ways of thinking, using language to mirror those ideas and beliefs (ibid: 3). However, viewing these definitions closely, one can recognize certain terms that are directly or indirectly found in all of these definitions. Such terms are process, signs and values, ideas, social groups, dominance, political power, identity, illusions of society, the link between discourse and power, action-oriented beliefs, and social life to convey a naturalized reality (ibid: 5).

Reasonably, ideology can cover all these concepts, if not more [italics are mine]. These processes have the power to establish any given belief to be an ideology that other ones may adopt and speak in its favor whenever it exists; namely, at a large scale such as sectarianism or a small scale such as any opinion (van Dijk, 2000: 44).

According to Eagleton (1991: 31), ideology is exercised through five stages where naturalization involves the use of language in the pragmatic sense.

a. Unifying action is the first stage in manifesting the meaning of the given social belief within a group of social subjects (Eagleton, 1991: 23). This is completely found and used by sociolinguistics (Holmes, 2013: 19) as mentioned in the concept of in/out-group.
b. Action oriented stage is where the ideology should be related to special modes of actions such as a matter of distracting people from the negativeness of the given ideology (Eagleton, 1991: 24). It is a way in which individuals who exercise the ideology establish rules and commitments to follow the ideology. “… of carrying out the ideology’s commitments” as asserted by Seliger (1980: 65). This is, in essence, how to form an ideology from certain practical steps which are prejudice to a doctrine, leading to establishing a system that is to be followed through power and hegemony (van Dijk, 2006: 116).
c. Rationalization indicates the stage of how to make social practices as logical and acceptable as possible. Ideology needs to be consistently and ethically received by the community, and this is only done through appealing for attitudes, ideas, feelings, and other social considerations; language (with or without power) is among them (Fairclough, 1995: 20). To achieve this end, rationalizing an ideology empowers a certain group of individuals over other people and gives protective devices to its practitioners. Language is a key factor here by using strategies of manipulation which Chen (2009: 11) focuses on.

According to Billig (2003: 35), there are certain remarks which bring critical studies into uniformity; namely, various linguistic approaches and fields are introduced within the critical studies, taking CDA as an approach and method to the critical analysis of language.

d. Legitimization comes after the rationalization of an ideology into a protected system of ideas (ideology). It refers to “establishing one’s interests broadly” (Eagleton, 1991: 54). After tackling the issue of spreading an ideology and making it as logical as possible, it is imperative to legitimatize it. Hence, one can talk about the naturalization of an ideology. “to legitimate one’s power is not necessarily to naturalize it” (ibid). Legitimization, in this sense, indicates the political and social right to be a proponent supporting an ideology or exponent against a certain ideology. It is just like when one talks about how a religious denomination for which one has the right to defend or attack.

The nature of discourse is to legitimize the various social relations and power manifestations. Discourse implicates – through the critical use of language- the social conventions that are resulted from the struggles for the sake of power (Morley, 2004: 21). This leads to set CPs under the legitimizing the speaker’s intention (ideology), a matter that goes hand in hand with what Morley (ibid) attains regarding power and ideology. Van Dijk’s (1997) ideological square is a suitable manifestation when dealing with including the self and/or excluding the other.

e. Naturalization of an ideology means how ideology is internalized and projected inside the social establishment (Eagleton, 1991: 57). Additionally, Rahimi and Sahragard (2007: 13) follow the terms of Marx’s five stages to ideology: naturalization which refers to the internalization of ideology, historicization deals with the context to a given ideology, externalization is the spreading out of ideology, articulation of an ideology where it is utilized by social subjects, and finally the use of enthymemes. Using power and dehistorization, a given ideology is implanted through the language practices and the individually-inbuilt social variables that the powerful language users have (Wayane, 2003: 134).
f. Universalization is the final stage in ideology, overlapping with naturalization and rationalization through which ideology is promoted as a common doctrine (Eagleton, 1991: 56). According to this stage, the ideology (as a social practice manifested by language) is to be taken for granted and accepted by all those individuals belonging to the same social background or should be followed by all others.

Wodak (2002: 24) terms CDA as the way where discourse and ideology meet and represent the embodiment of an ideology. In other words, the hidden ideology (the speaker’s intention, should definitions of pragmatics be adopted) is manifested through discourse which can be analyzed according to social variables that affect the social activities, such as power, rank, imposition, and the like.

Regarding the purposes for which ideology is used, it is hugely based on the social roles of speakers and the audience, in the sense that for what kind of implication they are used (Moses and Michael, 2014: 155). Mostly, the speaker imposes on the listener ideological indoctrinations; and when the roles are reversed, the power is reversed as well (ibid).

Chen (2009: 26) introduces CPs as a strategy of how to make use and sense of language when it is utilized in different dynamic contexts, indicating the implicit, hidden meaning which should be interpreted in favor of the speaker’s expectations. In another study, (2013a: 3), Chen focuses on CPs, following Mey’s (1993-2001) definition as a sub-field of pragmatics that deals with the ideologies and speaker’s stances which are manifested through languages and are hidden within the language.

The term ‘critical’ is employed differently at the level of pragma-linguistic and/or socio-pragmatic analysis. It means to comment on, criticize, fault-finding, and uncovering hidden implicatures (Follower, 1991; Chen, 1995: 90-92). Zhong (2005: 5) extracts three uses for the term critical: to reveal the hidden ideology as based on Fairclough and Wodak (1997: 258); to criticize the social inequalities and injustices as focused by van Dick (2000: 44); and to reflect on certain social practice such as language. It is treated as a central point where semantics and pragmatics meet, as demonstrated by Korta and Perry (2011: 3).

Putting all these definitions together, the term ‘critical’ can be of use in CPs. Accordingly, ‘critical’, here, refers to revealing the hidden ideologies of social injustice through commenting on and reflecting on linguistic emancipation, based on Mey (1993: 308), a central perspective that is adopted in this study.

Chen (2020: 28) names such a manifestation as Critical Pragmatic Analysis (CPA), treating it as a methodology to approach both positive and negative social practices through uncovering all types of ideologies with the use of linguistic comments (linguistic emancipation).

Dealing with ethno-pragmatic approaches to language, certain social variables are taken into account, such as gender, age, social class, race, region, profession, religion, doctrine…etc. These, in principle, demonstrate different types of ideologies. Ethno-pragmatics attempts to find the appropriate and/or inappropriate language use, a key factor in analyzing language with CPA (Mullan et al, 2020: 25).


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A Critical Pragmatic Approach To Muslim Preachers’ Sectarian Discourse In English Contexts
University of Babylon  (College of Humanities)
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critical, pragmatic, approach, muslim, preachers’, sectarian, discourse, english, contexts
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Basim Jubair (Author), 2021, A Critical Pragmatic Approach To Muslim Preachers’ Sectarian Discourse In English Contexts, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1215854


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