Silence as a multi-purpose speech act in Turkish political discourse

Alagozlu N., Sahin S.

3rd World Conference on Educational Sciences (WCES), İstanbul, Turkey, 3 - 07 February 2011, vol.15, pp.3008-3013 identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 15
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.04.233
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.3008-3013
  • Keywords: Silence, Speech acts, Relevance theory, Politics Turkish
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


Silence sometimes means more than words. Doubtless to say, it carries various meanings depending on the topic, participants, setting and culture in communication. This study attempts to explore pragmatic functions of silence specific to Turkish political discourse. Drawing on from Sperber and Wilson's (1986) Relevance Theory, ad hoc assumptions of illocutionary force of silence at informative and communicative levels of intention in intra turn pauses are scrutinized and corresponded speech acts are evaluated. Limited to our data, the analysis revealed that the politicians in the debate preferred few intra turn pauses, which validates the view that they are articulate and open in political communication. Where silence was observed, it was found out that it was employed to realize certain hidden speech acts to enable the flow of the conversation. Context dependent interpretations of pauses corresponded to the acts of approving, seeking for approval, accusing, challenging and refusing to speak/answer. (c) 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.