The Evaluation Rectangle: the ‘ideological square’ in action in Parliamentary Discourse
In his ‘ideological square’ principle, van Dijk (2011) argues that, in ideological discourse, in-groups emphasise their positives and de-emphasise their negatives, while they emphasise the negatives of out-groups and de-emphasise their positives. This presentation attempts to offer empirical evidence of this ideological principle using parliamentary discourse data from the UK and Ghanaian parliamentary debates. I argue that:
1. Parliamentary debates on government policies are evaluatory, involving massive use of evaluatory language.
2. However metaphorical it may seem, the ‘ideological square’ suggests equal measures of emphasis and de-emphasis for both in-and out-groups; and therefore,
3. From an evaluator point of, “rectangle” appears more appropriate since it implies unequal measures of the two sides, which is what actually happens in MP’s evaluation of government policies.
This is significant because there is a general representation of evaluation in parliamentary debates as double-edged: for government MPs, evaluation is seen as praise of the government and as criticism of the opposition; it is criticism of the government and praise of the opposition. This, therefore, represents four unequal dimensions and it is what I have termed the evaluation rectangle, an adaptation of van Dijk’s (2011: 396-397)