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Intertextuality as discourse strategy: The case of no-confidence debates in Thailand


By: Savitri Gadavanij

The discourse of Thai parliamentary no-confidence debates is intended to be formal in nature, and is defined as such by the constitution and relevant parliamentary regulations. However, the reality of this ‘parliamentary’ discourse does not always meet this idea. There is evidence of mixed genres and the combination of the language user’s (henceforth S) voice and other’s throughout the discourse of the debate. The combination of genres and voices in the discourse represents two levels of intertextuality (Chouliaraki and Fairclough, 1999: 49).

This paper argues that intertextuality is part of the in-built structure of the no-confidence debate discourse which operates in the face of three competing conjunctures: the debate’s purpose, its multiple audiences and its code of behaviour. Intertextuality reflects the struggle of the members of the Thai parliament to balance three purposes: the desire of highly partisan debaters to cause maximum damage to the opposing side, their need to seek public support and the need to stay within the parliamentary codes of behaviour. In this light, intertextuality can be seen as a strategy enabling MPs to produce a kind of discourse that can serve these competing social and political purposes, and to do so within the constraints of its three conjunctures.

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