Legislating to Control Online Hate Speech: a Corpus-assisted semantic Analysis of French Parliamentary Debates

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This corpus analysis of linguistic and semantic features in French parliamentary debates concerning online hate speech regulation, highlights tensions between state powers and private rights. Two key themes are identified: first, the problem of definition: how such online content is defined in the debates, and second, the problem of regulation: how the debates negotiate the supra-jurisdictional and individual jurisdiction issues involved, in regulating both the global online content and the responsibilities of the owners of the platforms who manage the content. For this analysis, the authors created a corpus of French National Assembly Examination Committee discussions and public sessions between July 2019 to January 2020 discussing the Loi Avia (Avia Law). The corpus was analysed using quali-quantitative methods. Overall, the study combines a top-down (global) and a bottom-up (local) analysis of the data, applying corpus semantic approaches (Lecolle et al. in Langages 210(2):35–54, 2018; Rastier in The Routledge handbook of semantics, Routledge, pp 507–522, 2015) to contextualize the analysis of the meta-discourse (Hyland in Meta-discourse: exploring interaction in writing, 1st ed. Bloomsbury Academic, Bloomsbury Collections, 2018. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350063617). The analysis highlights the linguistic features revealing the power dynamics inherent within the discourse and counter-discourse of the dominant and opposition political parties respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2323-2353
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Issue number6
Early online date14 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Online hate speech (cyberhate)
  • Parliamentary debate
  • Regulation
  • Corpus linguistics
  • Semantics


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