Political Coloring of Adjectives in German Political Discourse

Author’s name:

Zhanna V. Nikonova, Valery M. Bukharov, Inna G. Yastremskaya


The article analyzes the functional potential of basic adjective color-coding in modern Ger-man political discourse, illustrating cases of its political connotation. Using a variety of lin-guistic research methods, the authors examine functional peculiarities of color adjectives such as rot, orange, gelb, grün, blau, and violett in German-language texts related to politics. Spe-cific examples show that all these adjectives are politically colored, demonstrating the realiza-tion of both traditional and contemporary meanings that reflect modern realities of German socio-political life. The research also reveals the frequency of conveying specific values through the usage of color adjectives in the German political discourse. It is established, for instance, that the most frequent is the color adjective grün, used in non-fiction political texts to designate the political party Die Grünen and shedding some light on its style of governing and the political position of its electorate. Within the political discourse of modern Germany this color designation is also a verbal marker of ecological and environmental concerns as well as the color of hope. The authors also discuss such additional meanings of grün as “ex-tracted from natural sources, renewable” in the phrase grüne Energie and “misleading in terms of environmental effects or environmental influence something causes” in the phrase grün waschen. The second most frequently used basic color meaning in German political dis-course is the color designation rot, traditionally symbolizing blood, terror, revolution, and war, as well as struggle, protest movements, mass demonstrations, and campaigns. It also de-notes a specific form of a country’s political system and remains the main color of left-wing parties, expressing adherence to certain political parties and the style of their government. In addition, this color code serves as a strong warning in situations of grave danger and, in texts on political topics, often symbolizes the Russian Federation and everything related to it. The least frequent is the color designation violett, which can express membership in the political party Die Violetten. It is the color of the German public association Aktionsbündnis Amoklauf Winnenden and retains vital importance as a sign of warning in emergency situations (such as natural disasters, etc.). The results of the study contribute new information on the semantic space of color codes to the field of political linguistics and modern German studies, illustrat-ing political connotations of basic color codes in German.

DOI: 10.47388/2072-3490/lunn2020-si-73-92
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Key words color values; adjectives; the functioning of adjectives; German political dis-course.


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