Dominic Smith ⇓

PhD Research

For my PhD, I am using techniques from Corpus Linguistics to analyse the discourse of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

My biography on the Birmingham University website


This study proposes a methodology that combines techniques from corpus linguistics with theory from the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) to Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). The methodology is demonstrated using a corpus comprising transcripts of Hugo Chávez's television programme, Aló Presidente, broadcast between January 2002 and June 2007.

In this thesis, I identify a number of criticisms of CDA and suggest that corpus linguistics can be used to reduce the principle risks: over-/under-interpretation of data and ensuring that the examples used are representative. I then present a methodology designed to minimise these effects, based upon a hypothesis that semantic fields are used more frequently in periods when they are topical, and therefore one can isolate instances which were produced at times of change. I use the Aló Presidente corpus to present a detailed description of three such semantic fields and then adopt the concept of discourse strategies from the DHA to demonstrate how Chávez's framing of the topics changes with time. This leads to a set of conclusions which seek to answer the research question:

How is life in Venezuela framed as having changed under Chávez's Presidency by reference to his Aló Presidente television programme during the period 2002-2007?

My supervisors were Professor Susan Hunston from the Department of English and Doctor Pat Odber in the Department of Hispanic Studies. The thesis was examined by Doctor Geoff Barnbrook of the University of Birmingham and Doctor Victorina González-Diaz of the University of Liverpool.

My PhD was awarded in December 2010, and the thesis will be available shortly via The University of Birmingham eTheses repository / the British Library EThOS service.

I held the Sir Henry Thomas Scholarship in the Department of Hispanic Studies in the University of Birmingham from 2005-2008.


Conferences and Presentations:

The following links will take you to PDF versions of slides used at various conference presentations.

[x] Me

I am Dominic Smith and this is my personal website.
I am a radio amateur, Agile project manager and website developer living in Cambridge.   More about me »