THE ROLE OF SOCIETY IN THE AUDIT OF CO-OPERATIVES - A LINGUISTIC STUDY

Irmeli Helin
The relationship between language and ideology is a delicate but fascinating area of linguistic studies. In this paper, German legislation concerning the auditing of co-operatives is investigated to point out linguistic features showing the role of totalitarian society in the management and supervision of nominally non-political commercial institutions. Texts were selected from the Third Reich to be compared with further legislative texts written before this period (1889 and 1928) and after the reunion of Germany (1994).

The standard ideology in a society or community is always present in its language. The ideology encourages prescription in language, dedicated to the principle that there must be only one correct way of using a linguistic item. Since an ideology promotes uniformity at the cost of variety, the narrow forms of prescription may be seen as diseases or malfunctions of the ideology. On the other hand, according to the theory of critical discourse (CDA), background meanings are both inside and outside a text. Furthermore, history and syntax belong to meaning, where ideology has a double face and its contents have been inscribed in social practice.

In this paper, I search not only for implicit features to reveal the background existence of a totalitarian society, but also for explicit terms showing the relationship between the rulers and the co-operative institution. Such terms include government officers, who appoint the auditors and who are given the right to control the whole system of auditing. There are also further textual features to show a radical change in the surrounding society, such as (i) political terms appearing in previously unpolitical language of specialisation, (ii) repetition of manipulative terms, (iii) diachronic references, (iv) previous or present enemy implicitly referred to in the text and (v) terminologically defined purposefulness. If a text includes points (ii) to (v), it is defined as an ideological text. The existence of (i) qualifies the ideological text as political and totalitarian. This can be further confirmed by comparing the results with findings of other texts, originating from different societal circumstances. Laws concerning the various economies of a democratic society do not contain political items. Therefore it is interesting to see that all the above aspects could be found in the legislative texts of 1936 and 1941.

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