Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number3  September 2020                                 Pp. 567-684

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A Validity-Theoretic Approach to Interdiscursivity in Theresa May’s 2019 Resignation

Amir H.Y. Salama
Department of English, College of Science and Humanities in Al- Kharj
Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia

Department of English, Faculty of Al-Alsun (Languages)
Kafr El-Sheikh University, Egypt




The present study seeks to propose Habermas’s (1976, 1992, 1998, 2001) validity-theoretic approach as a method for conducting political interdiscursive analysis. The approach is predicated on the methodological correlation between the three validity claims of truth, truthfulness, and rightness, on the one hand, and the respective speech acts of constatives, expressives, and regulatives, on the other. The data used for analysis is the resignation speech delivered by the ex-Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, on 24 May 2019 in Downing Street, following her political failure to deliver Brexit.  The study derives its significance from attempting to uncover the pragma-argumentatively motivated interdiscursive patterns in May’s speech. In other words, the explanatory power of traditional interdiscursivity can be enhanced through integrating the pragma-argumentative component of validity-claim theory into the current form of political interdiscursive analysis. The study’s main finding is that, with the presence of pragma-argumentative links, there are four rationally oriented interdiscursive relations in May’s speech: (a) practical-aesthetic, (b) practical-theoretical, (c) theoretical-aesthetic, and (d) aesthetic-theoretical. Two crucial implications have emerged from this finding: (i) the dominant interdiscursive pattern in May’s speech is the practical-aesthetic interdiscourse, where May justifies her validity claims to truthfulness through the normative context of what best serves the UK’s political interests; (ii) both cases of theoretical-aesthetic and aesthetic-theoretical interdiscourses proved to have a dialectically interdiscursive meaning on the rational basis that two discourses are reciprocally justifying – and at some point, legitimating – each other.
Keywords: Brexit, interdiscursivity, Jürgen Habermas, resignation speech, speech acts, Theresa May, validity-theoretic approach

Cite as:  SalamaA. H.Y(2020). A Validity-Theoretic Approach to Interdiscursivity in Theresa May’s 2019 Resignation Speech. Arab World English Journal11 (3) Pp. 567-684.


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Amir H.Y. Salama is currently Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English,
College of Social Science and Humanities in Al-Kharj, Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University,
Saudi Arabia. Also, I am a standing Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Faculty of Al-Alsun
(Languages), Kafr El-Sheikh University, Egypt. In 2011, I got my PhD in linguistics from the
Department of English at Lancaster University, UK. Since then, My research interests are corpus
linguistics, discourse analysis, translation studies, pragmatics, and lexical semantics.