Dialogic features in EU non-native parliamentary debates

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EU parliamentary debates are a complex form of dialogue in that representatives of European citizens delivering monologues during parliamentary sessions are simultaneously engaged in a dialogue with their colleagues and with the broader public of European citizens. These can watch the online videos of the parliamentary sessions and read the online verbatim reports, i.e. the official written transcripts of the sessions. Linguistically, however, the videos and the verbatim reports differ significantly. The present paper draws on EUROPARL, a corpus I compiled which comprises the speeches delivered in non-native English during 13 parliamentary sittings (about 75,000 tokens) held in 2006 as transcribed from EP Live- Video and the corresponding verbatim reports (about 69,000). Previous studies of the differences between actual speeches and the verbatim reports regarded national parliamentary debates, for example in the U.K. (Slembrouck 1992; Hughes 1996; Mollin 2007) and in Italy (Cortelazzo 1985), thus focusing on speech in native languages. With the exception of Mollin (2007), they were qualitative in nature. The present paper illustrates the results of a quantative, as well as qualitative, analysis on EU parliamentary speeches delivered by non-native speakers of English and the corresponding verbatim reports. It is found that involvement devices (Chafe 1982), i.e. expressions such as ‘I think’, discourse markers like ‘well’, ‘you know’, ‘I mean’, emphasizers such as ‘of course’, ‘indeed’, ‘really’, ‘actually’, ‘definitely’, vague language like ‘thing’, ‘stuff’ and hedges like ‘a little bit’ are reduced. An analysis of ‘I think’ and ‘of course’ indicates that non-native speakers of English in the European Parliament make a skillful use of involvement devices, in an attempt to engage in a dialogue with the addressees despite the fact that they delivering monologues. Many of these dialogic features are lost in verbatim report, where ideational, rather than interpersonal, meanings are emphasised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
Volumevol. X
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • EU parliamentary speeches
  • verbatim reports


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