Linguistic Legitimation of Political Events in Newspaper Discourse

Marwah Kareem Ali, Anne A. Christopher, Munif Zarirruddin Fikri B. Nordin


This paper examines the discursive structures employed in legitimizing the event of U.S. forces withdrawal from Iraq and identifies them in relation to linguistic features. It attempts to describe the relation between language use and legitimation discursive structures in depicting political events. The paper focuses on the political event of U.S. forces’ withdrawal from Iraq in the English newspaper issued in Iraq. The study shows the way in which journalists express their values and attitudes concerning this critical event. Consequently, this requires a critical discourse analysis (henceforth, CDA) to analyse news articles in the Iraqi English newspaper: The Kurdish Globe (henceforth, KG) newspaper. Accordingly, the study presents a qualitative content analysis of newspaper articles to identify the legitimation discursive structures and their linguistic features. It is found that the main discursive structures of legitimation employed in the KG newspaper are: authorization, rationalization, and moral evaluation. Besides, there were five verb processes used to represent this legitimation, including material, verbal, relational, mental, and existential.

Keywords: Critical discourse analysis, legitimation discursive structures, linguistic features, newspaper discourse, systemic functional linguistics

Full Text:



Bell, A. (1991). The language of news media. Oxford: Blackwell.

Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London: Addison Wesley Publishing Company.

Farahani, E., & Ahmadian, M. (2014). What is the truth ? A demonstration of language manipulation in two newspapers and the pedagogical implications. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 3(7), 89–100.

Halliday, M. A. K. &, & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2014). Halliday’s introduction to functional grammar (4th ed.). London and New York: Routledge.

Harris, R. (1980). The language makers. London: Duckworth.

Mahmood, M. A., Javed, S., & Mahmood, R. (2011). A critical discourse analysis of the news headlines of budget of Pakistan FY 2011-2012. Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business (IJCRB), 3(5), 120–129.

Pennycook, A. (2004). Performativity and language studies. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies: An International Journal, 1(1), 1–19.

Popp, R. K. (2006). Mass media and the linguistic marketplace: Media, language, and distinction. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 30(1), 5–20.

Richardson, J. E. (2007). Analysing newspapers: An approach from critical discourse analysis (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Roksvold, T. (2010). Changes in newspaper language explored as changes in cultural norms. Intercultural Communication Studies, 19(3), 104–111.

Sadeghi, B., Hassani, M. T., & Jalali, V. (2014). Towards (de-)legitimation discursive strategies in news coverage of Egyptian protest: VOA & Fars news in focus. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 1580–1589.

Shojaei, A., Youssefi, K., & Hosseini, H. S. (2013). A CDA approach to the biased interpretation and representation of ideologically conflicting ideas in Western printed media. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 4(4), 858–868.

Taiwo, R. (2007). Language, ideology and power relations in Nigerian newspaper headlines. Nebula, 4(1), 218–245.

Vaara, E., & Tienar, J. (2008). A discursive perspective on legitimation strategies in multinational corporations. Academy of Management Review, 33(4), 985–993.

Vaara, E., Tienari, J., & Laurila, J. (2006). Pulp and paper fiction: On the discursive legitimation of global industrial restructuring. Organization Studies, 27(6), 789–810.

Van Dijk, T. A. (1995). Discourse analysis as ideology analysis. Language and Peace, 10, 47–142.

Van Dijk, T. A. (1996). Discourse, power and access‏. In C. R. Caldas-Coulthard‏ & M. Coulthard (Eds.), Texts and practices: Readings in critical discourse analysis (pp. 84–104). London and New York: Routledge.

Van Dijk, T. A. (2001). Critical discourse analysis. In D. Schiffin, D. Tannen, & H. Hamliton (Eds.), The handbook of discourse analysis (pp. 352–371). Oxford: Blackwell.

Van Leeuwen, T. (1996). The representation of social actors in discourse. In C. R. Caldas-Coulthard & M. Coulthard (Eds.), Texts and practices: Readings in critical discourse analysis (pp. 32–70). London: Routledge.

Van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and practice: New tools for critical discourse analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Van Leeuwen, T., & Wodak, R. (1999). Legitimizing immigration control: A discourse-historical analysis. Discourse Studies, 1(1), 83–118.

Wodak, R. (2001). What CDA is about – a summary of its history, important concepts and its developments. In R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis (pp. 1–13). London: Sage.

Youssefi, K., Kanani, A. B., & Shojaei, A. (2013). Ideological or international move? A critical discourse analysis toward the representation of Iran sanctions in Western printed media. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 4(6), 1343–1350.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.