“Dissident” – a resignification?

Something interesting happened in the news media last week.* After the fatal attacks on security forces in Northern Ireland on 9 and 10 Marc, the suspects were repeatedly referred to as “Irish Republican Army dissidents” (AP), “dissident republicans” (Guardian), “IRA dissidents” (The Star), “dissident republicans” (BBC), “dissident republican groups” (Telegraph), etc.

This fits with the standard dictionary definition of dissident (“disagreeing, esp, with an established government, system, etc.” according to the Oxford Concise Dictionary). But it does not fit with recent corpora, i.e., databases of the ways in which language is actually used. For example:

dissident

Note the distinct tendency for the majority of these “dissidents” to be positively valued (for a particular political position)? The dissidents are disagreeing with very particular types of governments and systems, and in a way which is pro-liberal, pro-democracy, pro-West and/or anti-Communist.

This is a random selection from the Collins WordbanksOnline English corpus (56 million words; contemporary written and spoken English). The British National Corpus (100 million words; British written and spoken English) returns similar results. (Oxford also now has a corpus, but they only have a video demo online.)

*It undoubtedly happened earlier, but I only became aware of it last week, reading the British coverage of the recent killings in Northern Ireland.

About these ads

2 Comments to ““Dissident” – a resignification?”

  1. Tightens Media Grip??I don’t utnersdand China’s Consitution statesArticle 35 of the 1982 State Constitution proclaims that . . . “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly,Article 36. of the 1982 State Constitution proclaims that . . . Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities.” Article 37. of the 1982 State Constitution proclaims that . . . The freedom of person of citizens of the People’s Republic of China is inviolable. No citizen may be arrested except with the approval or by decision of a people’s procuratorate or by decision of a people’s court, and arrests must be made by a public security organ. Unlawful deprivation or restriction of citizens’ freedom of person by detention or other means is prohibited; and unlawful search of the person of citizens is prohibited. Article 38. of the 1982 State Constitution proclaims that . . .“The personal dignity of citizens of the People’s Republic of China is inviolable. Insult, libel, false charge or frame-up directed against citizens by any means is prohibited.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: