’If big brother England votes to leave the European Union we will be treated like upstart children’. A family abuse metaphor in Brexit-influenced Scottish nationalist discourse

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This paper summarizes the results of a study examining the inter-play between metaphor, irony, and nationalist discourses in the communication and intentional reinterpretation of a United Kingdom family of nations (UK-FON) metaphorical slogan in the UK Parliament. Through a software-assisted corpus analysis drawing on recent work by Ølholm Eaton (2019) on the competitive communication of a ‘Commonwealth family of nations’ metaphorical slogan, and Musolff (2017) on the ironic reinterpretation of a “Britain at the heart of Europe” metaphor, it will be demonstrated: first, how inter-related Scottish independence and Brexit debates have triggered an increase in the deployment of the UK-FON metaphor, particularly among Scottish National Party (SNP) speakers; second, how competition for control over the metaphor’s meaning has led to its bifurcation into two contrasting variants (i.e. an initial Conservative affirmative/positive one framing the UK-FON as unified, equal, beneficent, expansive, and historically-rooted, followed by an ironic SNP hypocritical/abusive variant framing it as unequal, coercive, and disrespectful); and third, how the SNP communication of the ironically reinterpreted hypocritical/abusive variant contributes rhetorical weight to the expression of Scottish nationalist grievances, objectives, and perspectives of belonging in the UK and Europe. Rather than the typical use of family-based metaphors as a means of promoting positive and harmonious relationships, this study thus illustrates how they can also be communicated in the service of discord and division – in this case, specifically, in the denunciation of abusive treatment the SNP claims Scotland experiences as part of the UK.
Udgivelsesår12 maj 2020
StatusAccepteret/In press - 12 maj 2020
BegivenhedESSE 2020 - The European Society for the Study of English - Université de Lyon, Lyon, Frankrig
Varighed: 31 aug. 20204 sep. 2020
Konferencens nummer: 15


KonferenceESSE 2020 - The European Society for the Study of English
LokationUniversité de Lyon

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