Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Meaning and Politics: Creating the Future in Political Discourse

Professor Maria Manoliu.

A basic characteristic of political discourse consists in the fact that often it does not re-create linguistically the world we talk about but creates a world. In this process grammatical tenses and temporal expressions play a major role. In this contribution we analyze the way in which political speeches use the present tense when speaking about the future. Our analysis is based on the hypothesis that the specific feature of the Romance present may be roughly defined as the marker of the relation of inclusion between two worlds:
(i) the cognitive world (i.e. the position of the “imagining person” (the encoding person within the cognitive time);
(ii) the time of the universe created by the utterance (textual universe)

This hypothesis rests on Bühler’s dichotomy (1982) that characterizes any type of deixis, including tense, namely: "deixis ad oculos"(referring to the enunciation time) versus "deixis ad phantasma" (with no reference to the enunciation time, but to the time created by the enunciated text, the utterance). The inclusion of the enunciation time into the time of the narrated event is not a sine qua non condition of the use of the present tense. This model can explain the limited use of present tense in several classes of political discourse, since, for specific political manipulations of the addressee, the relation between the mental representation of the events and their linguistic reconstruction is reversed: the utterances do not re-construct linguistically the events but create them


Professor Maria Manoliu  (United States)
Department of French and Italian
University of California

University of Bucharest: Doctor-es lettres, 1968; Professor of Romance Linguistics, University of Bucharest, Romania: 1968-1978; Professor of French and Linguistics, University of California: 1978-present. Naturalized American citizen: 1986.

  • Meaning
  • Political discourse
  • Deixis,
  • Present tense
Person as Subject
  • Arendt, H Benveniste, Emile Bühler, Karl. Janssen, Theo A.J.M. Martin, Robert 1980. Le Bart, Christian, Ricoeur, Paul Thom, F.

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)