Source Document Analysis #2

Author’s name (last, first) Publication date
To tell it directly or not: Coding transparency and corruption in Malagasy political oratory
Language in Society Vol. 38, Pages 47-69
Book series OR Journal Location and publisher OR volume, issue, pages

1.  What is the source’s stated purpose (the argument or thesis)?

Jackson argues that linguistic and metalinguistic codings can indicate transparency or corruption in political oratory as shown in the Malagasy highlands.

2.  What evidence does the author provide to support his or her main argument? How is the author attempting to logically prove his or her thesis and how does this affect the organization of the document?

Jackson shows how in many instances politicians in Madagascar have used the traditional kabary (oratory) when addressing the people. Kabary is a very indirect way of making a point, using many figures of speech such as proverbs. She shows how in more recent politics talk of transparency and fighting corruption has been conveyed in a new kind of kabary that is much more direct and actually mirrors American style (the Ravalomanana regime very much favored relations with America over relations with France). She sites examples of old and new kabary from prominent political leaders as well as perspectives of others on their leaders and the way they express themselves.

3.  Who is the audience? What does the author assume the audience already knows about the topic?

Jackson is addressing those interested in the role of language in political processes. She assumes some background knowledge in both linguistics and political processes, but seeks to draw the connection between the two.

4.  Describe the author’s methods (i.e. how does the author know what he or she knows)?  In your opinion were they appropriate why or why not?

Jackson examines several registers of speech such as syntax to show how Ravalomanana’s speech was more direct and mirrored western styles. From a linguistic perspective this approach painted a clear picture of the differences between the old and new type of kabary.

5.  To what other sources (theorist, researchers, artists) does the author refer? Explain the specific ideas the author draws upon from these other sources to support his or her own argument (the theoretical framework).

Jackson sites numerous others to build a framework that describes the old kabary as being closely associated with a lack of transparency and thus a tendency towards corruption while painting the new form of kabary as direct and thus transparent.

6.  What are the connections between this source and your project? How useful or applicable is this source’s approach to your own project? How is yours new and different?

The article is more so one of social-linguistic worth than that of comparative politics. However, coding of political oratory in a fashion that describes transparency and the lack thereof is an interesting perspective to approach from when looking into sources of political instability. Much of the article dealt with people’s ability to relate to the orator in the context of the type of kabary used. This can lead to greater insight into people’s perceptions of corruption and thus their willingness to participate as well as the forms of participations preferred in one context or another.

~ by Abraham on 18 January 2011.

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