Drawing on the words of others at public hearings: Zoning, Wal-Mart, and the threat to the aquifer

Richard Buttny, Jodi R. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This study examines two public hearings on a zoning proposal that would allow the construction of a Super Wal-Mart Center on a field over the town's aquifer. Many citizens speak out against the zoning change because of the risk to drinking water, as well as other issues. Citizens face the speaker's problem of how to make their presentations convincing, given the technical matters involved and the fact that Town Board members have likely already heard about these issues. Some speakers draw on the words of others in their presentations. Using another's words allows the speaker to cite an authoritative source or to respond to what another has said, to evaluate it, and often to challenge it. Speakers use other devices in addition to quotes, such as formulations, repetition, and membership categorizations to develop their evaluative stances in the reporting context. The study's focus is the discursive construction and rhetoric of using others' words for the speaker's own purposes. (Public hearings, risk, reported speech, quotes, Wal-Mart, discursive analysis, rhetoric)*

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)735-756
Number of pages22
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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