Exploring stance and listener alignment in public discourse
This paper discusses public speakers’ discursive use of modality markers to persuade their audiences in political discourse. Although modality has been a subject of much investigation in different research areas recently, there has been no empirical examination of their role or functions in political discourse in Lesotho. The present study aims to fill the research gap by contributing to the analysis of the social and/or institutional functions of modality markers in public speeches. Using the approach of critical discourse analysis and systemic functional linguistics, the present paper analyses the speech of the Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho, His Majesty King Letsie III, on the occasion of the university’s 70th anniversary celebration. Particular attention is paid to how the King strategically used modality markers to express his attitude, opinion, ideas, obligation, beliefs, commitment, politeness, stance, involvement and his authorial presence. The results of the qualitative analysis of the use of modality markers show how the Chancellor strategically applies these affective modal expressions beyond the linguistic level. In other words, the King’s speech reveals the ways in which speakers’ stance, attitude and their authorial presence can be strategically used to achieve certain social and/or institutional goals.