On the Linguistic Analysis of Fake News Texts in German Political Discourse

Author’s name:

Zhanna V. Nikonova, Ekaterina V. Soloveva


The article analyzes fake news texts from the perspective of linguistic pragmatics and its key concept, speech act theory. The specificity of fake news lies in the fact that, while ontologi-cally functioning as a carrier of factual information, this type of text contains intentionally false information deliberately presented as real facts, often rendered provocative. Linguistic study of the fake news phenomenon is especially relevant since there is a clear demand for effective tools that would help disclose fake news texts, understand their nature, and describe functional features of such texts in political communication. Analyzing the modern German political discourse, the authors identify a trend of using fake news texts to vilify and destroy the authority and reputation of certain political forces and describe a number of key features of fake news texts. The article outlines issues related to the linguistic study and verification of fake news texts with the hope to develop reliable models for describing this text type and to develop practical guidelines that would enable users to detect fake news in discourse. The study justifies the high explanatory potential of the speech act theory which offers objective means to examine the manipulation mechanism in fake news texts in terms of the illocution-ary force and the perlocutionary effect of an utterance. The analysis of the illocutionary struc-ture of fake news messages leads to the conclusion that false propositional content in conjunc-tion with the constitutive rules of the illocution “statement” of the text type “news” is condi-tional on the high perlocutionary effect of fake news in the modern German political dis-course. The article evaluates the prospects of studying fake news texts from within the para-digm of the speech act theory and links them to identifying linguistic markers of deliberate distortion of the true propositional content.

DOI: 10.47388/2072-3490/lunn2020-si-93-102
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Key words fake news; German political discourse; speech act theory; propositional content; illocution.


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