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Separated by a common language: How Breitbart and The New York Times produce different meanings from common words

Mor, F; Nash, EJ; Green, F; (2021) Separated by a common language: How Breitbart and The New York Times produce different meanings from common words. Politics 10.1177/02633957211012959. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

We build on the work by Peled and Bonotti to illuminate the impact of linguistic relativity on democratic debate. Peled and Bonotti’s focus is on multilingual societies, and their worry is that ‘unconscious epistemic effects’ can undermine political reasoning between interlocutors who do not share the same native tongue. Our article makes two contributions. First, we argue that Peled and Bonotti’s concerns about linguistic relativity are just as relevant to monolingual discourse. We use machine learning to provide novel evidence of the linguistic discrepancies between two ideologically distant groups that speak the same language: readers of Breitbart and of The New York Times. We suggest that intralinguistic relativity can be at least as harmful to successful public deliberation and political negotiation as interlinguistic relativity. Second, we endorse the building of metalinguistic awareness to address problematic kinds of linguistic relativity and argue that the method of discourse analysis we use in this article is a good way to build that awareness.

Type: Article
Title: Separated by a common language: How Breitbart and The New York Times produce different meanings from common words
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/02633957211012959
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/02633957211012959
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Lficense (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed.
Keywords: discourse analysis, ideology, linguistic relativity, machine learning, political disagreement
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137478
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