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    • Impoliteness in Context - Piers Morgan Interviews Janet Mock: A Linguistic Analysis

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  • Ideologies about sex and gender, which marginalise those who deviate from the norm, are often reproduced in spoken discourse both deliberately and unconsciously. They not only offend those who identify as transgender, but also legitimise the existing power relations between the cis-gender community and the transgender community. Adopting a combined discourse-analytical and pragmatic approach, the following study explores the relationship between discourse, ideology and power in a television interview hosted by Piers Morgan with transgender activist, Janet Mock. This interview sparked twitter outrage, with many people criticising Piers for his insensitive handling of the interview. This study thus sets out to explore why the way Piers handled the interview with Janet Mock could be considered insensitive. Drawing on concepts and tools of pragmatics, as well as other dimensions of talk such as genre and topic, one explores how topics are ideologically managed by Piers, how his speech acts reflect and reproduce power and ideology and how rapport is (mis)managed in the interview. To explore how rapport is (mis)managed, Spencer Oatey’s (2005) Rapport Management Model is operationalised. A quantitative analysis of Piers Morgan’s question turns is conducted and Piers’ speech acts are then analysed qualitatively to determine how their underlying meanings affect rapport in this interview. Close analysis of this interview reveals Piers’ discourse implicitly embodies a naturalised view of sex and gender, which is interpreted as offensive by Janet. One concludes that Piers does not communicate face-attack intentionally in this interview, nor does Mock perceive Piers’ communicative behaviour as intentionally face-attacking. Rather, Piers simply lacks understanding of how to communicate with a transgender individual in a manner that is deemed respectful. This study aims to raise people’s self-consciousness that you can be completely kind, but say something very offensive at the same time – the two things are not mutually exclusive. 
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