Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Reproduktionen und Innovationen in Sprache und Kommunikation verschiedener Sprachkulturen
<< Reproduction and Innovation in Language and Communication in different Language Cultures

Americanizing the electoral battle. A (text-)linguistic analysis of the Rapid Response-Module

Heiko Girnth / Sascha Michel (Universität Mainz, Deutsches Institut, Deutschland)



While media-based electoral battles were traditionally restricted to the audio-visual media radio and TV, as well as to the print media, the campaign in the internet increases its importance. As a relatively new and innovative kind of the internet-based election campaign, the rapid response-module has become established.

The idea, respectively the intention behind this kind of online-battling can be seen in the simultaneous (synchronic) response to statements of the political opponent (foreign group). Apart from the (pretended) correction of facts with the self-group being upgraded and the foreign group being downgraded, information shall be offered for interested citizens as well as for "party-close" journalists.

Under US-American influence, it was used in the German campaign for the Bundestag in 2001 for the first time. Since then, it has been playing a major role for its (German) "initiator", the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who regularly instrumentalizes this "American import" as a strategic force (

In this presentation, I will analyze the rapid response-module (text-)linguistically. Above all, it is to be shown to what extent this module can be considered as a new (political) text type. After an overview of traditional (political) text types, the inherent innovation of the object in question will be demonstrated. For this purpose, a multi-level-classification ("Mehrebenenmodell") will form the basis of the discussion. This classification considers several linguistic perspectives and makes it possible to integrate many different (linguistic) levels among which the following are most important:

Form/Structure: What are the formal/structural characteristics (phonetic/ phonological, morphological, syntactic, lexical pecularities)?

Topic/ Development of theme: Which topics/themes dominate? How are these developed (descriptive, narrative, etc.)?

Function: What is the primary function of the text (assertion, appeal, etc.)? What are the subsidiary functions?

This presentation will have a glance at all three levels with the focus being put on the pragmatic perspective (function).

It helps us to understand that ADVERTISING, as one of the primary functions, is realized via establishing a pseudo-objectivity. The postulated objectivity in conveying information (quotations, references) is thus only manifested on the surface.

Finally, a comparison with the US-American realisation of the rapid response-module will reveal interlingual correspondances and/or differences. This shows us, to what extend we can speak of an Americanization of the German electoral battle in this respect.

Literature (selected)

Girnth, Heiko (2002): Sprache und Sprachverwendung in der Politik. Eine Einführung in die linguistische Analyse öffentlich-politischer Kommunikation. Tübingen: Niemeyer.

Girnth, Heiko/ Michel, Sascha (2006): Wahlkampf im Internet. Das "Rapid Response"Modul als politische Textsorte. In: Girnth, Heiko/ Dinter, Constanze (Hgg.): Strategien politischer Kommunikation. Semantische und pragmatische Analysen. (to appear)

Heinemann, Wolfgang/ Viehweger, Dieter (1991): Textlinguistik. Eine Einführung.

Tübingen: Niemeyer. (Reihe Germanistische Linguistik 115).

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-29