Talk Like a Marine

USMC Linguistic Acculturation and Civil–military Argument

Published In: Discourse Studies, v. 16, no. 3, June 2014, p. 385-405

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by William Marcellino

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This study examines the relationship between US Marine discourse and civil–military public argument. A computer-aided semantic analysis of public record speech from senior Marine officers shows a style of cohesion, marked by future-oriented, inclusive, highly certain language. An appraisal theory discourse analysis of interviews with US Marines conducted during an ethnography of communication shows their talk argues discursively for cohesion. This way of speaking may constrain Marines in public argument, as they repeat ways of talking appropriate within the community, even when situationally inappropriate for civilian audiences.

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