A Pragma-Dialectical Study of Personal Attack in China-Related Letters to the Editorof The New York Times

Lu Pinchao


This article under the research framework

of pragma-dialectics, analyses the use of personal

attacks in the China-related Letters to the

Editor of The New York Times, and evaluates its

reasonableness. The research results show that

the personal attacks in the China-related Letters

to the Editor of The New York Times can be

mainly classified into three subtypes: the abusive

variant (insult others), the circumstantial variant

(suspect motives) and the tu quoque (you also).

Both reasonable and unreasonable use of personal

attack are identified. The unreasonable use of

personal attack is mainly caused by: (1) the use

of personal attack prevents the opponents from

casting doubts or proposing his or her

standpoint; (2) the use of personal attack has

deficiency or even is invalid in logic, failing in

the examination of critical questions. On

account of this, the related discourse subjects

in similar kind of discourse practice, should: (1)

design their arguments reasonably according to

the code of conduct of critical discussion (Ten

Commandments); (2) consider the audience as

an extremely rigor one, making sure that the

argument can pass any critical examination,

and so the rational and responsible figure of the

proponents can be guaranteed.


Letters to the Editor; The New York Times; Pragma-Dialectics; personal attack.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18002/sin.v3i2.5262


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