Ideological Schema and Legitimization of Voice in the Lebanese Revolution Slogans
Ibrahim Srour ()
The slogans raised by the Lebanese revolution protesters include a specific language use which reveals power, perseverance, and determination. As such, the Lebanese revolution slogans have encouraged the researcher to unfold and analyze its significant traits. The purpose is to unveil notions of power, how the notions are transmitted, pinpoint the audience to which the slogans are directed to, and exhibit why the slogans are written in the way they are. Through the slogans, the demand of the protesters is as follows. They want to topple the governing regime and trial its officials. Hence, through the slogans raised by the revolution, the Lebanese protesters firmly believe that the political leaders must be held accountable for their power abuse and wrong doings. Although the slogans of the Lebanese revolution were trilingual: Arabic, French, and English, the data of the analysis roughly comprises 22 eclectic slogans from the Lebanese revolution originally written in English. The overall data is composed of 187 multilingual slogans. Moreover, in order to analyze the slogans of the Lebanese revolution, the researcher will employ van Dijk’s (1997, p.25) Ideology Schema as well as the morpho-syntactic features (van Dijk 1997) related to political discourse. The schema and the features enable the researcher to uncover how language is used by the protesters in order to express the dissatisfaction with the government and its unjust practices. Through this analysis, the researcher hopes that the present paper would be a contribution to the field of analyzing the slogans of the Arab Spring in general, and the Lebanese revolution in particular.
Key terms: Language, Ideology, Political Discourse Analysis, Slogans, Revolution, Lebanese.
The Lebanese protesters hold and raise banners containing specific slogans. The banners have various written slogans which are of many colours. The banners’ colour acts as an eye catching device. As such, the banners become multimodal screens that have, according to Kress (2003), a “functional specialization” (p. 117). That is, the orthographic mode of the slogans which is ‘writing’, is “used for the representation of event structures…of aspects of the world” (Kress 2003, p.117). Accordingly, banners facilitate the mode of expression of the protesters. The banners become a representation of a) the world we are living in, b) the event structures which are revealed in the Lebanese revolution itself, and c) the aspects of the world which are the calamities that the Lebanese people are suffering from. The ailments gripping the Lebanese society are the economic crisis, the corruption of the government, the lack of jobs, and the government’s passiveness in facing the rooted problems.
The banners are ‘signs’ to be held up in order to be noticed by the audience. These signs include slogans which in turn “… realize the interests, the perspectives, the positions and values, of those who make the signs” (Kress 2003, p.44). Hence, the ones who make the signs are the protesters themselves. In writing the signs, the protesters would have invested, in the banners, everything which is happening in their life.
Fairclough (1989) believes that language has a decisive role in “the production, maintenance and change of the social relations of power” (p.1). Moreover, slogans are words or phrases written in order to communicate one’s messages which are of significance. Slogans are directed towards a specific audience. Also, slogans are used in various contexts such as political, social, commercial, and sometimes religious contexts. Hare (1991) posits that the term ‘slogan’ has its roots in the Scottish-Gaelic term “Slaugh-Gharim” which means an ‘army shout’, i.e. a battle cry of a clan which is used to instill fear in the heart of the clan’s enemy and to motivate the clan’s soldiers. Thus, the slogans of the Lebanese revolution are a battle cry. The revolution itself is a war cry. It is a cry for change and bettering the public social situation. So, the revolution is a social wave in the face of the corrupted elite clasping their claws over the country. Furthermore, since words embody the slogans raised by the protesters, then slogans become representatives of a specific event structure which displays a particular view of the world. Accordingly, the specific event structure is the Lebanese revolution and the particular view of the world is the protesters’ dissatisfaction with the turmoiled situation of the country.
Since slogans communicate a message to a designated audience, therefore slogans are dialogic in nature. As such, slogans include an addresser, an addressee, and an audience. Accordingly, slogans are “a site for interaction” (Hoey 2001, p. 18), whether it is a social or a political interaction. Moreover, as slogans communicate a key idea, a concept, or an ideology, it is of essence to “ask what sort of words are being used” (Gee 2011 b, p. 53). As a result, slogans are a form of social practice. According to McGregor (2010, p. 2), Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is an analytical tool utilized to describe and analyse social interaction and society in the way they are mirrored in a text. As a result, CDA aids in understanding the meanings of a text, whether the text is written or spoken. As such, there exists a dialectical relationship between language and power which are resided in a text (Fairclough, 1995 b, p. 44). Therefore, the slogans of the Lebanese revolution exhibit an intertwined relationship between language and power. The slogans stand as a crystal clear example of how language is utilized to support the protesters’ opinions and challenge the power of the ruling regime.
The revolution is a powerful social practice. The Lebanese protesters are practicing their legitimate right to voice their opinion. Through the slogans which are raised on banners, the protesters are revolting in the face of corruption. Accordingly, through the act of writing the slogans, the protesters are practicing the power of the word. Hence, since the slogans are a mode of expressing one’s voice and opinion for the purpose of change, the slogans become political. What is meant by political is that the slogans are a site for power struggle, power challenge, and for expressing one’s view of the world. As such, slogans become a type of political discourse.
Moreover, the Lebanese protesters use language in order to challenge their government and the ruling regime. Thus, the slogans which are raised show how the protesters utilize language to fortify their opinion of the government, defy the governing social members, and express their disdain of the country’s deteriorating status. There are many slogans raised during the Lebanese revolution. The slogans are either uttered, chanted, or simply raised on the banners.
Among the many slogans of the revolution, there is the famous slogan “The People Want to Overthrow the Regime”. This slogan is not a new slogan which is solely used by the Lebanese protesters. This slogan originated in the Jasmine Revolution of the Arab Spring which was originally used in the Tunisian revolution. Later on, the slogan was chanted in many revolutions of the Arab Spring such as the Egyptian, the Libyan, the Yemeni, and the Iraqi revolution. The slogan was used in many countries of the Arab Spring, by varying its lexis and became “The People Want to Change the Regime”. In the Lebanese revolution it was used as “The People Demand the fall of the Regime”. Whether the lexical item ‘overthrow’, ‘change’, or ‘fall’ is used, the slogan still signifies the power of the people’s will and longing for changing the present situation. The people yearn for a better life. Thus, they revolt and fight with words. As such, the revolution is a social action which primarily depends on the protesters voicing their opinion and expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions towards what is taking place in their country.
Hence, the social act of the revolution becomes discursive, because the revolution reveals a particular view of the world. Furthermore, the notion of discursivity is part and parcel of Political Discourse Analysis (PDA), wherein PDA is realized under the umbrella of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Accordingly, when conducting a political discourse analysis, it is of essence to include notions of CDA such as social interpretation. Therefore, for the purpose of this research, a social interpretation of the Lebanese revolution slogans will be conducted.
The aim of this research is to analyse how the Lebanese protesters use language in order to express the dissatisfaction with their current social situation and the disdain with the political ruling class. The purpose is to reveal that slogans are a site for the legitimization of voice and a medium for discursive power. Thus, in analyzing the slogans of the Lebanese revolution, it is imperative to pinpoint important notions. The notions are crucial for the understanding of the role of language in slogans, in general, and the Lebanese slogans in particular. The notions include “… who the intended audience [is]… who the actual hearers or readers [are]…” (Johnstone 2008, p.10). Accordingly, when the notions are revealed and how the social rules that give rise to the slogans are framed, then, what is written ‘in’ the slogans “…clearly influences what gets said and how” (Johnstone 2008, p.10).
The slogans of the Lebanese revolution are written in Arabic, French, and English. The overall data of this research is composed of 187 multilingual slogans. However, the researcher will analyze the Lebanese revolution slogans that are originally written in English. The analysis will target 22 slogans eclectically on the basis of its important constituent elements.
Review of Literature
This literature review presents what has been written in the field of analyzing revolution slogans, especially the slogans of the Arab Spring. Many researchers tackled the slogans from various perspectives. Some researchers conduct a critical discourse analysis, others analyze the embedded political messages, whereas other researchers conduct a contextual, a critical, or a semantic analysis. Also, some researchers analyzed the political discourse strategies of the slogans. Furthermore, during the search for information concerning this section of the article, the researcher came across only one research paper which included an analysis of the Lebanese revolution slogans, where the researchers adopted the Politeness Theory (PT) in conducting their study. Al Masaeed (2013), analyzes the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and its slogans by conducting a critical discourse analysis. The purpose of the implementation of CDA and intertextuality in investigating the slogans is to reveal how the Egyptian protesters used the power of language to empower themselves, challenge the political government, and overthrow Egypt’s former president. Also, Al Masaeed employs a theory of Multimodality to analyze the modes of the different slogans raised by the protesters. The modes include the variety of images and expressions that are held by the protesters. The purpose is to show how semiotics aid in exposing the injustice befalling the Egyptian citizens. Sraj (2013) examines the slogans of the Arab Spring. He considers the slogans as an important tool for embedding political messages. Sraj analyzes the clause ‘Irhal’ (an Arabic word which means ‘leave’). He posits that the clause ‘Irhal’, which is a single-word lexical item, functions as a single statement which condenses various semantic expressions. As such, the clause ‘Irhal’ becomes highly semantically significant. Sraj concludes that the protesters have adopted the imperative verb ‘Irhal’ in order to assert their ideology of ‘change’ in their insistence on changing the political government.
Lahlali (2014) analyzes the slogans of the Egyptian revolution. He conducts a contextual analysis in order to shed light on the social, political, cultural, and the religious aspects of the slogans. Thus, he categorizes the slogans into seven categories such as political, religious, and cultural. Lahlali reveals that the slogans reflect various political points of view. The slogans include many themes such as hope, reprimand, prosecution, and a yearning toward a better Egypt. In addition, Lahlali proves in his analysis that the language register of the slogans reverberates the various societal levels of the Egyptian society. Accordingly, the variety of the political orientations has played a major role in shaping the slogans of the Egyptian revolution.
Obeidi (2016) conducts a critical analysis of the slogans raised by the Tunisian revolution. Her focus is on the slogan of toppling the repressive regime. In her analysis of the Tunisian revolution slogans, Obeidi reveals how the slogan of toppling has sparked the wave of protests in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and then, in Iraq. The slogan is as follows: “The People Want to Overthrow the Regime”, and it originated in Tunis. The slogan was molded in each of the countries to suit the needs of the protesters.
Al-Sowaidi, B., Branda, F., and Mansour, A. (2017) analyze various slogans from Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The researchers analyze the slogans according to a theory of Political Discourse and a theory of Rhetorics. The purpose is to exhibit how the slogans serve as a vessel for the transmission of political comments and political ideology. Also, Al-Sowaidi et al. (2017) examine the slogans in order to portray the persuasive effects of the slogans in shaping the Arab ideology and viewpoint concerning what is going on in the region. In their conclusion, the researchers consider slogans as inclusive of various strategies which are typical of political discourse and political issues. The slogans, in the view of Al-Sowaidi et al. (2017), act as a tool for the inclusion or exclusion of groups in society. As such, the researchers believe that slogans can be a sub-genre of Political Discourse.
Furthermore, Sraj (2017) examines the protest speech of the Civil Movement slogans. He claims that slogans must be constructed in a linguistically systematic manner. Slogans must abide by the linguistic rules of slogan writing. Thus, if the slogans are linguistically accepted and well-formed, they become a decisive tool for convincing the masses of the demand of the revolution. Sraj concludes by asserting that socio-political aims are achieved when the protesters use illustrative slogans.
Ismail and Mahmoud (2019) analyze the slogans of the Iraqi revolution. The researchers conduct a semantic analysis of the slogans in order to reveal the communicative pattern of the written slogans. The purpose is also to convey how the slogans contribute to the youth’s awareness of the important notions of reform and change, and how the two notions can be effective in the toppling of a corruptive regime. The researchers stress, in their conclusion, the essential contribution of the slogans in the adjustment of power between people and the government.
Diana and Steuer (2019) analyze the physical and the symbolic nature of the notion of “the People” in the slogans of the Egyptian revolution. The researchers analyze the slogan ‘The People Want the Fall of the Regime’ from a socio-political perspective. In addition, Diana and Steuer investigate how the legitimacy of the people is constructed via the revolution slogans. Also, the researchers examine the expression ‘child martyr’ and how the political representatives used the idea of martyrdom during Egypt’s 2011 elections, in order to persuade the voters.
Nassar and Al-Harahsheh (2020) analyze the Lebanese revolution slogans from a socio-pragmatic perspective. The researchers adopt a framework which is based on the Politeness Theory (PT). Moreover, the politeness principle of Face Saving Act almost does not exist in the slogans, because most of the slogans carry profanity and taboo words targeted at the governing officials. The study reveals nine socio-pragmatic functions of the slogans. The nine functions portray the political, social, and the economic situation in Lebanon. In addition, most of the slogans, according to the researchers, embody feelings of hate, despair, and warning. Contrary to the ‘not good’ feelings which are expressed in the slogans, very few slogans include notions of perseverance and persistence. However, the most predominant function of the analyzed slogans is the Face Threatening Act of insult.
This section of the research has presented some major studies conducted in the field of slogan analysis. The focus was on the slogans of the Arab Spring which were manifested in specific countries of the Arab World, namely Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon.
Since Political Discourse Analysis (PDA) is within the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), the researcher will utilize the Ideology Schema proposed by van Dijk (1997, p.25). According to van Dijk (1997), PDA focuses on “… the reproduction of political power, power abuse or domination through political discourse, including the various forms of resistance or counter-power against such forms of discursive dominance” (van Dijk 1997, p. 11).
Furthermore, the Ideology Schema focuses on ideological discourse through analysing the following:
- Identities (a group identity or mass collective identity)
- Norms and values
- Group relations
- Resources (van Dijk 1997, p.25)
Moreover, in order to make the above notions clearly revealed, the researcher will conduct an in-depth analysis of the slogans by adopting the morpho-syntactic features proposed by van Dijk’s (1997). The proposed features are related to political discourse and aid in unveiling instances of power abuse and counter-resistance through discourse. The proposed features include:
- Pronouns such as we, us, them, you
- Variations of word order
- Use of specific syntactic categories
- Active and passive constructions
- Clauses and embedding
- Sentence complexity (van Dijk’s 1997, p. 38)
Analysis and Discussion
This section of the research is an in depth analysis of 22 eclectic slogans chosen from the overall collected data. The eclectic slogans are selected for the significance in including a detailed portrayal of the situation in Lebanon through the various themes as well as the protesters’ opinion about what is taking place in the country. The analysis includes first, an excavation of the morpho-syntactic features of the slogans. Second, the researcher examines the Ideological Schema of the Lebanese revolution slogans in order to reveal the ideology of the protesters behind raising the slogans.
- ‘The people demand the fall of the regime’
This slogan is a powerful slogan because it clearly includes the purpose behind the Lebanese revolution. The slogan is in the form of a statement which has a simple structure and includes an imperative verb ‘demand’. The verb is semantically significant because it leaves no choice for the addressee but to comply with what the protesters want. Also, the verb is pragmatically of essence as it embeds the deictic marker of time ‘now’ or ‘at the moment’. Moreover, another powerful lexical choice is the verb ‘fall’ that connotes an action which is of a top-down direction. That is, the ruling system must fall from its high reigning palace onto the ground. The governing personnel must be toppled. Furthermore, the expression ‘The People’ is of prime interest in the context of the statement-slogan. The expression embeds the pronoun ‘we’ as opposed to the noun ‘regime’ which embeds the pronoun ‘them’. Hence, the opposition is between ‘we’ (the people), and ‘them’ (the regime). Thus, when the expression ‘The People’ is coupled with the imperative verb ‘demand’, together these words reveal the legitimacy of the people in their right to change their present situation to the better.
- ‘Revolution, Revolution, Revolution’
This slogan is based on the concept of three’s. The main word is the noun ‘revolution’ which is a call for a specific action. The action is to mobilize against the government and stand in the face of injustice. Moreover, the repetition of the noun ‘revolution’ three times creates an emergency need for taking action. Such a repetition stresses the idea of mobilization and reveals the urgency for a revolution. This effective slogan is written on a single banner, where the word ‘revolution’ is repeated vertically. Such a graphic style of writing presentation attracts the attention of the reader. Although the slogan is written, the protesters usually utter the noun-slogan in a serious tone of a high-pitch voice. Also, the ‘screaming’ of the slogan is usually accompanied by raised fists on the part of the protesters. The slogan is pragmatically significant because it is a cry uttered by a collective gathering which demands a particular action to be taken by the rallying masses. Moreover, the slogan carries all the connotations which accompany the lexical item ‘revolution’. That is, the connotations are manifested in the actions done by the protesters which include power, such as an attempt to crash and occupy a vital governmental institution.
- ‘Leave, Leave, Leave’
This slogan is composed of a main verb which is in the imperative form. The verb is repeated three times. The repetition stresses the action of ‘resignation’. The slogan is a simple lexical item, i.e. a one-word slogan. Moreover, the repetition enables the slogan to be uttered with ease, and the repetitive rhyme attracts the attention of the reader and the hearer. The slogan is raised by the protesters in order to demand the resignation of the government, and in particular, the Prime Minister’s. In addition, the slogan embeds the collective pronoun ‘we’. As such, the slogan would become: ‘We the people, demand you to leave’. Accordingly, the usage of the slogan asserts the power of the people in facing the government.
- ‘Our government is a government of thugs. Down with the rule of the thieves’
This slogan is a very powerful slogan, because it reveals how the people look at the government. The slogan is raised by the protesters in order to inform everyone who reads it of the demands of the Lebanese revolution. The slogan is composed of a complex structure: one nominal sentence and one verb phrase. The nominal sentence carries the specific attitude of the protesters towards the government. The government is a group of ‘thugs’ who have sabotaged the country. Also, the portrayal of the government as thugs is stressed in the verb phrase of the slogan, where the members of the government are portrayed as ‘thieves’. Semantically, there is a lexical relation between the collective nouns ‘thugs’ and ‘thieves’. The lexical relation is co-hyponymy, because the item ‘thieves’ in included in the broader item which is ‘thugs’. However, the existence of the two nouns together becomes an effective collocation. The effectiveness resides in revealing the reason for the economic decline of the country: The Lebanese government has stolen the resources of the country. Furthermore, the slogan is typical of the negative portrayal of the government as the ‘other’ as opposed to the positive portrayal of the protesters: ‘we’. Thus, ‘our’ government becomes the ‘other’, because it has drenched the country of the riches. As a result, the verb ‘down’ embeds a call for the falling of the ruling system. Also, the slogan is semantically and pragmatically significant. The semantic significance is the following. The ruling of the government is not any ‘ruling’, but it is the ruling of thieves. Pragmatically, the slogan means that the persons who are ‘ruling’, are specialized governmental members. The specialty of the ruling personnel is to rob the citizens and the country of any resourceful material. Hence, the government is supposed to belong to the people and to care for the well-being of the country. However, since the government is doing nothing in order to benefit its country, the protesters demand it to leave the ‘rule’. In addition, the slogan includes some words which vary in terms of the syntactic categories. For example, the preposition ‘down’ is used as a verb. Morphologically, such a process is called ‘conversion’, which takes place when a word keeps its form but changes its grammatical function. As such, the interplay of many morpho-syntactic features in the slogan, gives the slogan a complex structure.
- ‘Don’t throw tear gas we can cry by ourselves’
This slogan has a different theme than the previous slogans. The slogan is not about toppling the government, but it is about the safety of the protesters. The slogan alludes to the violence which the protesters are suffering from. The armed police forces are using excessive force by gasing the protesters with tear gas in order to prevent the advancement towards the Prime Ministry. Also, the slogan is symbolic of the negative social situation which the protesters are living in. The verb phrase ‘we can cry by ourselves’ conveys the sad state of the people. Furthermore, the slogan, which is a verb phrase, is in fact a sarcasm directed towards the armed police forces. The use of sarcasm means the following: ‘there is no need for tear gas because we can cry by ourselves. We cry because of the wrong doings of our government’. Hence, the phrase ‘we can cry’ embeds the actual reason for the tears. ‘We’ cry because of what ‘they’ did to ‘ourselves’, wherein the pronoun ‘they’ refers to the government members.
- ‘Christians and Muslims for a civil state’
This slogan has another different theme which is also unlike the theme of the other slogans raised by the protesters. The protesters call for a ‘civil state’, and not for a state which is governed by factions. The protesters have had enough of the government of factions and its unjust practices. There is a revolution because of the behaviour of the corrupted regime. Moreover, the protesters are Lebanese citizens of different religions: Christianity and Islam. The use of the coordinating conjunction ‘and’ is of semantic significance. The conjunction not only joins the parts of the nominal phrase together, but it also links the two religions as well. In addition, the slogan reveals that the protesters, although divided by the actions of the factional state, they are united in order to demand the establishment of a civil state. Accordingly, the preposition ‘for’ is used by the protesters to mean ‘demand’ or ‘call for’. Therefore, the nominal phrase slogan is symbolic of the unity of the Lebanese people in the face of the abusive government.
- ‘The happiest depressed people you’ll ever meet’
This slogan is in the form of an adjective phrase. The use of opposing attributes magnifies the feelings and conveys the internal psychological state of the protesters. The pronoun ‘you’ is used collectively in order to denote the government members and anyone who is reading the slogan. The use of opposites in the slogan delivers the intended message: the protesters are the ‘people’, the superlative adjective ‘happiest’ portrays the protesters’ artificial smile, and the adjective ‘depressed’ conveys the true feelings of the protesters. Pragmatically, the slogan means that no matter how depressed the people are (because of the economic situation), they will not allow anything to break their ‘Will’. In addition, the slogan embeds the use of the pronoun ‘we’. Accordingly, the slogan becomes as such: ‘We are the happiest depressed people you will ever meet’. Hence, the notion of ‘we’ versus ‘you’ is also inferred from the slogan.
- ‘Let’s change today for a better tomorrow’
The slogan is in the form of a statement. The conversational style of the slogan conveys solidarity towards the addressee. Although the style is amicable, the slogan calls for a ‘change’. The slogan is written in the style of advertising. In the slogan, collocation is used in a verb phrase and in an adjectival phrase as follows: ‘change today’, ‘better tomorrow’. The collocation functions as a cause-effect collocation and embeds the conditional -if clause. That is, if change occurs today (during the revolution), then a better future awaits the protesters as well as the country. Also, the preposition ‘for’ is stylistically significant in terms of the slogan writing style and word economy. Thus, the preposition ‘for’ stands in the place of the expression ‘so that we can have’. Accordingly, the slogan becomes as follows: ‘Let’s change today so that we can have a better tomorrow’. This brevity in the writing style embeds the term ‘the people’, which is a notion occurring in ‘let us’. As such, the usage of the pronoun ‘us’ embeds two meanings. The first meaning is ‘us’ (the people) and the second meaning includes ‘the people’ together with ‘the government’. However, the first meaning is more plausible, given that the uprising is challenging the regime. Therefore, the slogan calls upon other protesters to rally, in order to change the regime so that all the citizens have a better future.
- ‘Respect existence or expect resistance’
This slogan is musical because of the rhyming words. The end rhyme in ‘respect’ and ‘expect’ as well as in ‘existence’ and ‘resistance’ is significant. The collocating pairs embed the condition terms put by the people. The government must respect the existence of the citizens and treat them as respectable social members. However, if the government does not treat the citizens in a respectable way, resistance is to incur. This slogan includes the performative speech act of warning which is directed towards the government. So, the protesters are warning the government of the consequences of ill-treating the citizens. Pragmatically, the protesters demand a dignified and a peaceful existence. Hence, what gives the slogan a powerful resonance is the use of the imperative verbs ‘respect’ and ‘expect’. The verbs stand as a clear message of what is to befall the government as a result of not treating the people in a dignified manner. Moreover, the slogan embeds the binary relations of ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the hidden pronouns ‘you’ and ‘our’ as follows: ‘you must respect our existence or else you must expect our resistance’. This embedding exhibits the power of ‘the people’ and their ability to stand for their own right.
- ‘We are missing our lessons so we can teach you one’
This slogan is written on a banner and is obviously held by a student. Pragmatically, the slogan conveys the theme of patriotism. As such, the slogan is read as follows: ‘We (the students) are missing our lessons (at school or university) so that we can teach you (the government) a lesson in how to be patriotic and to stand up for one’s right’. The pronoun ‘we’ is representative of ‘the people’ in the face of the government. Moreover, the verb ‘missing’ is in the continuous form, denoting the progressiveness of the action: the students are always missing their lessons. This action is done for a higher cause, which is ‘defending the people’s own right’. The slogan is in the form of a declarative statement. The statement reveals the decisiveness of the people in the fight, in order to get what rightfully belongs to them. Furthermore, the slogan indirectly portrays the government in a negative light. Thus, instead of the government teaching the people ideas of patriotism, the people themselves are the ones teaching the government how to be patriotic. Accordingly, this slogan has moved the power from the hands of the government into the hands of the people.
- NO TRUST
This slogan is a noun phrase which is composed of two lexical items: a negation ‘no’ and a noun ‘trust’. The slogan is powerful because it reveals the opinion of the protesters. The protesters consider the government as an illegitimate ruling regime. The government has betrayed the people’s trust. This betrayal resulted in the drastic situation of the country. Accordingly, the revolution has come to disavow the government: the people do not trust the government anymore. As a result, the regime must step down and leave. Moreover, the two lexical items of the slogans portray the following notion: since the people do not trust the government, such a regime is undeserving of ruling. Also, the slogan embeds the binary pronouns ‘I’, i.e. the people and ‘you’, i.e. the government as follows: ‘(I do) NO (t) TRUST (you)’. Therefore, the people are the ones who give legitimacy to the government. Hence, the people have decided to topple the ruling regime. As such, the slogan conveys the symbolic power of ‘the people’ over the governmental power.
- ‘If not now when? If not you who?’
This slogan is composed of two -if clause conditionals. The slogan is in the form of a question, and since it is raised in the revolution, the question-form slogan has a specific function. The slogan functions as a rhetorical question, which is a question that does not need an answer. The two-question slogan means two things. First, now is the right time to revolt against the government. Second, who else would the protesters revolt against, if it was not the government? Hence, the use of the -if clause in the form of a question embeds “the people’s” decision to challenge the illegitimate government. Therefore, the repetition of the negation structure in the -if clause emphasizes the protesters’ perseverance and decisiveness in revolting against the regime. Accordingly, this slogan proves the legitimacy of the people’s action, which is the revolution.
- ‘It’s never too late for the future of our children’
This slogan is a declarative statement which embeds the notion of hope. The protesters are still hoping for a change. Also, the notion of aspiring for a better future is revealed in the expression ‘never too late’ and the noun ‘future’. The lexical choice conveys the strength of the protesters. Hence, the protesters’ perseverance and positive representation function as a symbolic weapon in the face of the government.
- ‘You have stolen my dream’
This slogan includes the theme of robbing the people of the essence of their existence: their dreams. The corruption of the regime is so intense that the government has prevented the people from dreaming of prosperity and from hoping for a better tomorrow. Moreover, the slogan is informative and it is directed towards the ruling personnel through the use of the collective pronoun ‘you’. Also, the verb ‘steal’ is in the perfect tense ‘have stolen’, which is significant in the context of the revolution. The verb tense reveals the cause of the revolution, which is ‘the stealing of a dream’. In addition, the verb indicates that the ‘stealing’ done by the corrupt government did not come to an end, and no one knows when it will end. Thus, the revolution has taken place in order to prevent the corruptive actions of the government. Pragmatically, the slogan shows the desperate psychological situation of the protesters.
- ‘It’s time for payback’
This slogan clarifies one of the reasons for the Lebanese revolution. The protesters have risen to collect the country’s dues. As such, the protesters stand as book keepers of the wrong doings of the government. The verb ‘payback’ collocates with the noun ‘time’ in order to compose a declarative statement carrying the theme of the slogan. The protesters have come to claim what is theirs: the country and its resources. Furthermore, the slogan embeds the time deictic marker ‘now’. Accordingly, the slogan means: ‘now’ is the time for the people to get even with the government. Hence, the slogan sets the purpose of the Lebanese revolution, which is to challenge the government’s power and reclaim the country. Once again, this slogan reveals the decisive power of ‘the people’ in the face of the corrupt ruling regime.
- ‘Nothing makes sense because psychopaths are in charge’
This slogan functions as a label of the government members. The slogan sums up the situation of the country. In Lebanon’s current situation, everything is chaotic. The negation phrase ‘nothing makes sense’ exemplifies the country’s calamity. Also, the slogan includes the form of cause-effect. The second part of the slogan gives the reason for the country’s deterioration. The reason is the country being ruled by a group of psychopathic members. The adjective ‘psychopaths’ denotes collectivity and is a powerful branding of the ruling members of the government. Moreover, this label is a Face Threatening Act (FTA) functioning as an insult to the government. As such, the slogan embeds the following notion: since psychopaths are in charge of the country, the people have come to reclaim the power in order for everything to make sense again.
- ‘Politicians are like sperm, one in a million turns out to be a human being’
The slogan is powerful statement which categorizes the ruling personnel. The slogan is a nominal sentence which hides the idea that the politicians are anything but human beings. As such, the slogan employs the Face Threatening Act (FTA) of insulting the members of the government. Moreover, the usage of the comparison lexical item ‘like’, sets the standard for categorizing the politicians. The use of the simile in the slogan reveals the status of the politicians with respect to the protesters. The members of the regime are not human beings because of what the politicians did to the country. Hence, if a good politician comes to rule rightfully, it would be a rarity.
- ‘ The power of the people is stronger than the people in power’
This slogan is effective because it conveys a strong message. The slogan is a declarative statement of the idea of the people’s power. Not only is the government in control of the country, but the people have the power to control the country as well. Moreover, another message is embedded in the slogan through the use of anti-metabole. Antimetabole is a stylistic device where certain lexical items in a sentence shift in position, in order to reveal a specific meaning. Antimetabole appears in ‘power of the people…people in power’. The message embedded in the stylistic device is directed towards the government members and is as follows: the people are also powerful and are strong enough to take matters into their own hands. As such, the message is informative, because it reveals that the protesters are more powerful than the elite ruling class which is governing the country. Hence, the following idea lurks in the slogan: since the people are more powerful than the government, the people have come to topple the corrupt government and be in control of the country.
- ‘You ain’t got none unless you got funds hun!’
The slogan sets the condition for the return of the country as a prosperous country. The lexical item ‘unless’ is used as a conditional, in order to inform the government of how to rectify the economic situation of the country. Moreover, the pronoun ‘you’ is used collectively so as to refer to the government. Also, the slogan utilizes a double negative in ‘ain’t’ and ‘none’. The use of a double negative conveys the expression ‘on the condition that’. Thus, a positive expression is embedded in the double negative. The embedding resides in the second part of the slogan, and in particular through the use of the plural noun ‘funds’. The noun ‘funds’ collocates with the twicely repeated verb ‘got’, in order to convey the intended message and form the bigger picture. Hence, if the government is to financially stabilize the country, there must be funds and investments taking place inside Lebanon. Furthermore, the slogan reveals the intended message in a resonating manner through the use of rhyme in ‘none’ and ‘hun’. In addition, irony is hidden in the slogan as follows: instead of the government proposing the solution to the drastic economic situation of the country, the people are the ones showing the government the way out of the problem. Hence, the conversational style of the slogan, the rhyming words, and the utilization of irony, facilitate the transmission of the message in the most eloquent style. Accordingly, the slogan reveals the power of ‘the people’.
- ‘You recycled the parliament, recycle the trash. Clean up the trash in the parliament. Throw out the government with the trash’
The slogan has a complex structure because it has several parts. As such, the parts form a particular category with a specific theme. The category and theme are revealed in the verb ‘recycle’ and the noun ‘trash’. The verb and the noun are repeated twice. Also, the dominant theme is ‘cleansing’, whereas the category is the Face Threatening Act (FTA) of insult. The theme of ‘cleaning up’ is semantically significant because it embeds the notion of cleansing. The notion reveals the idea of ‘purging’, as if someone is sanitizing the parliament from a disease. Moreover, there is the use of collocation related to the theme of cleansing in the words ‘recycle’, ‘clean up’, and ‘throw out’. All of the words amalgamate to convey the magnanimous deteriorating situation of the country and portray the government as a ‘decaying’ government. Furthermore, the pronoun ‘you’ is directed at the Prime Minister. As such, the pronoun is embedded in the second part of the slogan as following: ‘(you) recycle the trash’. Thus, the pronoun is an indirect order to the Prime Minister to dissolve the government. In addition, the complex structure of the slogan utilizes the Face Threatening Act (FTA) of negative labeling. The slogan labels the government as ‘trash’ which belongs in the trash bin and not in the parliament. The noun ‘trash’ is repeated three times in order to emphasize how the protesters look at the members of the government. Thus, the triple usage of the noun ‘trash’ stresses the negative portrayal of the government. Therefore, the use of FTA reveals the protesters’ strong longing to get rid of the ruling regime.
- ‘No more corruption in Lebanon!’
This slogan is in the form of a blunt exclamatory statement functioning as a clear declaration of the people’s demand. The use of the negation ‘no’ and the gradable lexical item ‘more’ is of pragmatic significance. The significance resides in the following notion: the people have had enough of corruption. Moreover, what strengthens the message of the slogan is the use of the exclamation mark at the end of the slogan. Semantically, such a usage highlights the intensity of the people’s feelings. As such, the exclamation mark collocates with the expression ‘no more’, in order to reveal the purpose of the Lebanese revolution. That is, the protesters are revolting because of the rooted corruption and accordingly, they are demanding the obliteration of such a foul behaviour.
- ‘STOP child marriage. STOP child marriage. STOP child marriage’
This slogan is eye-catching because of the use of the structure of threes. The main slogan is ‘STOP child marriage’. However, the slogan is repeated thrice, in order to emphasize a specific idea which is ‘child marriage’. Moreover, the slogan reveals the demand of the protesters. The demand is conveyed through a theme which is different than the themes of the rest of the slogans. The theme of the slogan is underage marriage. The protesters demand the government to legislate laws against underage marriage. The demand is embedded in the usage of the imperative verb ‘STOP’ which is repeated three times. The repetition emphasizes the need for taking an immediate action on the part of the government. Hence, this slogan is written because of the atrocities which are caused in the Lebanese society because of not having rules against underage marriage.
The identity of the protesters is not only related to a single individual, but is also related to more than one group. The identity is a collective identity which includes Lebanese people of various social statuses. Moreover, the slogans are directed towards a specific audience, which is the government as well as the people watching the revolution news coverage. The revolution has united the Lebanese people under the emblem of nationalism. Hence, the main motto under which all the Lebanese protesters are unified is patriotism.
The main activity of the protesters is revolting against the corrupt regime. The revolution is manifested in raising specific slogans. Since the slogans intend to reveal a particular ideology or send a designated message, they become a mode of social interaction. As such, the slogans constitute the bedrock of social structure and are essential in bridging the social members together. Thus, the revolution has united the protesters via slogans under one cause, which is to demand the reformation of the country. It is a reformation which starts with cleansing the governing system.
The protesters have raised many slogans of various aims. The slogans included many goals such as eradicating corruption, toppling the government, providing a better future, preventing child marriage, and empowering the people.
- Norms and Values
The slogans unveil the various norms and values instilled in the Lebanese society. The norms are related to moral codes and ethics such as the people’s right for a decent life. Also, the slogans demand an election of a new government which is capable to manage the country in a corruption-free manner. Furthermore, the breaking of the norms, for example, is revealed in the absence of laws which prevent underage marriage. Thus, the slogans which were analyzed, call for the restoration of social norms and values.
- Group Relations
The ideology schema of ‘group relations’ is conveyed through the identity of the protesters. The protesters are Lebanese people who belong to diverse political orientations, various educational status, and are of different age groups. All of the protesters have united for one sole purpose, which is to salvage the country.
The resources of the Lebanese revolution are divided into two: the human and the material resources. The human resources are the protesters themselves who are revolting against a decaying regime, for the purpose of demanding the demolition of corruption in the country and the toppling of the government. Moreover, the second resource is represented by the slogans which are raised by the protesters. The slogans contain various themes and different demands. The slogans are manifested differently: some slogans are chanted and other slogans are written on banners and raised up high.
Interpretation and Conclusion
The Lebanese revolution stands as a fierce guardian against any force which aims to destabilize the country. The main participants are the protesters who have rallied against an unjust government. The protesters come from various social backgrounds and are of different statuses, whether social, economic, or educational statuses.
The intense aggravating situation of the country has united all of the different social members of the Lebanese society. The unity has taken place under the umbrella of the Lebanese revolution. So, the demands of the people were most expressive of the people’s yearning for a corruption-free and an honest country.
In conclusion, the slogans revealed how the people can voice and transmit particular ideologies. The voice of the people was conveyed through the act of writing the slogans. The lexical choice and the morpho-syntactic features of the slogans were a clear evidence of the power of the word. Hence through the utilization of word power, the people have regained their voice. As such, the discursive nature of language has ultimately endowed the people with more power than the power of the government. Therefore, the word power of the slogans has asserted the legitimization of the voice and the power of the people.
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 – (PhD) Associate Professor Lebanese University Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences Department of English Language and Literature (First Branch).