The language of critical discourse analysis: the case of nominalization
journal contributionposted on 15.10.2013, 11:09 authored by Michael Billig
This article examines the way that critical discourse is written. It does so by considering the concept of nominalization. Critical discourse analysts have suggested that nominalization (along with passivization) has important ideological functions such as deleting agency and reifying processes. However, the language used by critical analysts, as they explore nominalization, is revealing. They tend to use, and thereby instantiate, the very forms of language whose ideological potentiality they are warning against – such as deleting agency, using passives and turning processes into entities. The concept of ‘nominalization’ is itself a nominalization; it is typically used in imprecise ways that fail to specify underlying processes. If critical analysts take seriously their own ideological warnings about nominalization and passivization, they need to change the standard ways of writing critical analysis. We need to use simpler, less technical prose that clearly ascribes actions to human agents.
- Social Sciences
- Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies