Mystification strategies and self/other representation in news reports of the First and Second World Wars: A comparative study

This paper presents a contrastive study of how The New York Times represents the US in the First World War and Second World War. More specifically, how the allies and non-allies of the US are represented. Data for this research were gathered from six news reports from World War I and six news reports from World War II. The analysis focuses on both self/other representation and mystification strategies like passivitation, transitivity and lexicon. The period in which the US participated in the war, that is, World War First or World War Second seems to have a strong bearing on the strategies employed.

Palabras clave

Lexicon Mystification Passivitation Self/Other Representation Transitivity

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John Fredy Gil-Bonilla

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    • profile avatar

      Sergio Yagüe-Pasamón

      Comentó el 20/05/2021 a las 14:15:33

      Dear John Fredy,
      Thank you for your thought-inspiring contrastive analysis on the construction of US World-war discourse in the existing media. My enquiry is fairly simple. May this strategy have served as antecedent for the subsequent and current media-based ideological campaigns in armed conflicts? Thank you in advance for your kind response.


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        John Fredy Gil-Bonilla

        Comentó el 21/05/2021 a las 00:20:24

        Dear Sergio,

        Thanks for your interest in my research. Of course, these strategies can be used in many investigations including campaigns, political discourse, etc. Lexis, implicatures and context are some of the many linguistic strategies that can be applied in CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis). In fact, I have carried out some research focusing on this, and other discourse strategies (e.g. see van Dijk 2004).

        I hope to have addressed your concerns; however, if you still have questions, please contact me.


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      Alicia Herraiz Gutiérrez

      Comentó el 20/05/2021 a las 10:31:08

      Hello John. Congratulations for your clear and well-put presentation. You mention an "us versus them" discourse that shapes The US relations with allies and non-allies. Considering that a significant percentage of the US population make up is from European descent, have you noticed if this affects in any way the "us vs them" discourse? Are there any specific strategies applied that are not so prevalent with other groups?
      Thanks in advance.


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        John Fredy Gil-Bonilla

        Comentó el 21/05/2021 a las 00:47:01

        Dear Alicia,

        Thank you so much for your interest. As can be noticed, my research mainly focuses on how the New York Times represents the United States ingroup vs outgroup in WWI and WWII, and therefore, the strategies used from one period to another vary depending on the role of the US, and of the positioning adopted by the New York Times in each of these two events. It can be however noted that it would be interesting to scrutinize other newspapers with different ideological stances in order to see how discourse is constructed since significant differences may be found.

        As concerns your second question, groups are depicted differently depending on the role that "THEY" adopt against/in favour of "US". In this respect, I have focused on the allies and non allies of the US, however, variations could have been also found concerning the way in which the US represented other groups or minorities which did not directly participate in the war.

        I hope this will clarify some of the questions that have been raised here; however, if you still have questions, please contact me.


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