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March 2017
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LiBRI: When Apologies Are Not Sincere Apologies

PhD Ahmad Kareem Salem Al-Wuhaili will present in the latest volume of the LiBRI journal an article about the duality of political apologies, aiming to reveal the fact that important political faces apologise without meaning it.

Unfortunately, apologising, which used to be a sincere statement of one’s feelings of guilt, sadness or pity, has become a tool for some politicians to solve problems by using means of emotional manipulation.  Politics has developed ever since the beginning the same concept; Chilton defined politics as a struggle for power, a fight between those who want to impose it and those who go against it. The paradox of politics is the fact that it functions based on two opposing features which are put together: cooperation and conflict.


One of the main tools of politics is language, thus a politician has to be particularly careful when choosing words. In fact, the capacity of using properly the communication skills in order to express one’s ideas is the source of power of every politician. Being able to play with the meanings of the words in order to appeal to people’s principles and needs and hiding the bitter truth under euphemisms, whose purpose is to deceive people, can be considered necessary skills that every politician needs to have. When it comes to apologising, politicians abuse this capacity creating speeches which are more or less sincere by using some specific techniques. Therefore, the responsibility they should assume for their wrong deeds or decisions is presented under distorted words.

But comforting people is not the only aim of the insincere apologies uttered by politicians, another purpose of this speech is to build confidence in-between the opposite parties, determining a powerful sense of stability inside the political structures. Due to the appeal to emotions and feelings, apologising has also another purpose: strengthening the identity and nation.

This study will prove the above-mentioned facts by analysing six fragments of the discourses of different American persons occupying elective offices. In these excerpts, numerous apologising statements will be uttered by using different techniques. These methods have the purpose ensuring the basic background for apologies to seem credible and sincere.

Let’s take for example Bill Clinton’s apology for “Cheapening” the Oval Office to Rosie O’Donnell:

I’m sorry for all the men who ever hurt you, I’m sorry that I hurt you. Everything you’ve said to me, I’ve said to myself, and I hope one day you can forgive me, and I hope I can forgive me.


Using the structure “sorry” – which is has various pragmatic functions – rather than the verb “to apologise” the American president not only he eliminated the dispute, but also he dropped his responsibility for Rosie O’Donnell.

The study will present more examples where the politicians will abuse the pragmatic functions of words in order to achieve their goals. Disguised messages represent the main tool in solving the dispute between those who have offended and the victims. Numerous techniques are used in creating the speech of a politician who must apologise for a wrong attitude, deed or behaviour.

Read more here!

Andreea Toma