Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

“Facts” and “Feelings” in the Discursive Construction of the “Best Interests of a Child”: The Charlie Gard Case

Judith Turnbull


The study investigates how the ethical issues of the “best interests” of a child, end-of-life care and parental responsibility were presented and discursively constructed in the case of Charlie Gard, a young baby suffering from a rare degenerative disease with no known cure. The story of his parents’ legal battle against doctors’ decisions to withdraw treatment hit the headlines, arousing strong, emotional reactions among the public. The paper investigates the linguistic resources adopted in the presentation of the various arguments of the parties involved. The corpus is therefore made up of two subcorpora, one covering the institutional, specialist discourse of the hospitals and law courts, the other composed of articles published in British quality and popular newspapers. Bearing in mind the heterogeneous nature of the sources, the study primarily adopts a qualitative discourse analysis approach, and in particular Appraisal Theory which offers a wide and flexible range of instruments to find the key to the reading of a text.


Appraisal Theory; Charlie Gard; child’s best interests; court decisions; editorials; ethics; hospital statements; legal dispute; news reports; public opinion

Full Text:



Bell, Allan. 1998. The Discourse Structure of News Stories. In Approaches to Media Discourse, edited by Allan Bell and Peter Garnett, 64-103. Oxford: Blackwell.

Martin, James R., and Peter R.R. White. 2005. The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Oteíza, Teresa. 2017. The Appraisal Framework and Discourse Analysis. In The Routledge Handbook of Systemic Functional Linguistics, edited by Tom Bartlett and

Gerald O’Grady, 457-472. Oxford: Routledge.

Page, Ruth. 2003. “An Analysis of Appraisal in Childbirth Narratives with Special Consideration of Gender and Storytelling style”. Text. 23 (2): 211-237.

Thompson, Geoff. 2008. Appraising glances: evaluating Martin's model of APPRAISAL. WORD. 59 (1-2): 169-187. DOI: 10.1080/00437956.2008.11432585.

Turnbull, Judith 2018. Migration. What is in a word. Lingue e Linguaggi. 25, 45-64.

van Dijk, Teun A. 1998. Opinions and ideologies in the press. In Approaches to Media Discourse, edited by Allan Bell and Peter Garnett, 21-63. Oxford: Blackwell.

Wilkinson, Dominic, and Julian Savulescu. 2018. Hard lessons: learning from the Charlie Gard case. Journal of Medical Ethics 4: 438-442.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2019-001-turn


Lingue Culture Mediazioni - Languages Cultures Mediation
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (27/11/2013 n. 380)
Online ISSN 2421-0293 - Print ISSN 2284-1881

Dipartimento di Scienze della Mediazione Linguistica e di Studi Interculturali
Università degli Studi di Milano

Editors-in-Chief: Paola Catenaccio, Giuliana Garzone
Editors:  Marina Brambilla, Luigi Bruti Liberati, Maria Vittoria Calvi, Gabriella Cartago, Lidia De Michelis, Dino Gavinelli, Marie-Christine Jullion, Alessandra Lavagnino, Chiara Molinari, Giovanni Turchetta.
Sub-Editors: Maria Matilde Benzoni, Paola Cotta Ramusino, Mario De Benedittis, Kim Grego, Giovanna Mapelli, Fabio Mollica, Bettina Marta Mottura, Mauro Giacomo Novelli, Letizia Osti, Maria Cristina Paganoni, Giuseppe Sergio, Virginia Sica, Nicoletta Vallorani.
International Advisory Board: James Archibald (Translation Studies) - Hugo de Burgh (Chinese Media Studies) - Kristen Brustad (Arabic Linguistics) - Daniel Coste (French Language) - Luciano Curreri (Italian Literature) - Claudio Di Meola (German Linguistics) - Donatella Dolcini (Hindi Studies) - Johann Drumbl (German Linguistics) - Denis Ferraris (Italian Literature) - Lawrence Grossberg (Cultural Studies) - Stephen Gundle (Film and Television Studies) - Tsuchiya Junji (Sociology) - John McLeod (Post-colonial Studies) - Estrella Montolío Durán (Spanish Language) - Silvia Morgana (Italian Linguistics) - Samir Marzouki (Translation, Cultural Relations) - Mbare Ngom (Post-Colonial Literatures) - Christiane Nord (Translation Studies) - Roberto Perin (History) - Giovanni Rovere (Italian Linguistics) - Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (Russian Studies) - Shi-Xu (Discourse and Cultural Studies) - Srikant Sarangi (Discourse analysis) - Françoise Sabban, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine (Chinese Studies) - Itala Vivan (Cultural Studies, Museum Studies)

Editor of LCM - The Series: Marie-Christine Jullion

Referee List