Patterns in the negotiation of (un)ambiguities in the migration discourse


Regarding public political language use, the demand for precise communication is often made. In contrast to this primacy of unambiguity, strategies of intentional polysemy and ambiguity are used in order to pursue political aims (cf. Reisigl 2020; cf. Klein 2010). A dominant and controversial debate like the migration discourse in Germany since 2014/2015 is particularly suitable for examining these processes of negotiating meaning from a pragmatic perspective. The focus lies on the strategic use of (un)ambiguity and the negotiation of meaning(s) (especially on the word level). Thus, the aim of the dissertation project (working title: “The public negotiation of unambiguity in political communication“) is to show patterns of strategic (dis)ambiguations in the context of public political language use. A corpus of written and oral texts will serve as data basis for the study, whereby the integration of oral data represents a contribution to the state of the art of discourse-linguistic methodology. The initial focus is placed on metalinguistic utterances in which the discourse actors refer to the language use of other actors in an often critical and distancing manner, comment on and evaluate it, and with which they point out and negotiate meanings.

The following research questions are being pursued, among others:

  1. (How) Can (intentionally applied) ambiguities in public political communication be described linguistically?
  2. What (formal and functional) patterns of the use of ambiguous speech emerge from the data?
  3. Which assumptions does the analysis of disambiguations and meaning negotiations reveal?


  • Klein, Josef (2010): Sprache und Macht. In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 8/2010: Sprache, S. 7–13.
  • Reisigl, Martin (2020): Mit zweierlei Maß gemessen – Kalkulierte Ambivalenz in rechtspopulistischen Repräsentationen von Geschlechterverhältnissen. In: Zeitschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 50, S. 203–229.