Universiteit Leiden

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Sociolinguistics and Discourse Studies

Argumentation and rhetorics

Argumentation and rhetorics is the study of how we convince people verbally. In other words, what do people say and how do they say it?

Human communication consists in large part of attempting to influence other people‚Äôs attitudes and opinions. A politician wants citizens to vote for him, a doctor wants a patient to undergo necessary treatment, a student may want her parents to pay her rent. At LUCL we investigate the argumentative and linguistic techniques that are used in argumentative discourse, in our daily interactions as well as in more or less formal situations. Our goal is to ascertain when this discourse is reasonable and when it is not.

What we do

Our framework is argumentation theory, classical and modern approaches of rhetorical theory and linguistic stylistics.

The analysis and evaluation of argumentative discourse operates under the assumption that language users aim to present themselves as reasonable communicators, but at the same time want to have things their way. In this way, argumentative practice can be seen as a strategic design enterprise. We use all kinds of methods for studying these designs: conceptual-theoretical, empirical such as qualitative/analytical or quantitative (experimental or corpus-based), or a combination of these. 

We very much welcome applications by prospective PhD students who are interested in studying the strategic design of argumentative discourse from these areas.

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