On SAGE Insight: Is Trump always rambling like a fourth-grade student? An analysis of stylistic features of Donald Trump’s political discourse during the 2016 election

From Discourse & Society

Recently, a political figure has gained linguists’ attention since the day he announced his running for presidency – namely, Donald Trump. When he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US election campaign on 8 November 2016, the mass media dubbed this event as ‘one of the most shocking U.S. elections’, ‘plunging US into uncertainty’. He was characterized by his simple, pompous, repetitive language in a rambling fashion, resembling a more conversational style.

This study intends to evaluate stylistic features of Donald Trump’s political discourse based on the evolution over time as well as the genre variation by employing a comparison between Obama, Clinton and Trump. Results show that in debates, Trump uses less diverse vocabulary and simpler sentences. In campaign speeches, nonetheless, along with the change of circumstances, he sometimes employed a richer vocabulary and well-edited sentences. In addition, Trump’s speeches contain relatively more central themes in his campaign speeches. His concentration on political themes may meet key interests of a large proportion of electorates.

Abstract

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump was characterized by his simple, pompous and repetitive language. However, studies have shown that sometimes he does not speak the way he used to. Critical discourse analysis suggests that political discourse analysis should include both the characterization of the text and the systematic description of the context. Thus, this study intends to evaluate stylistic features of Donald Trump’s political discourse based on the evolution over time as well as the genre variation by employing a comparison between Obama, Clinton and Trump. Results show that in debates, Trump uses less diverse vocabulary and simpler sentences. In campaign speeches, nonetheless, along with the change of circumstances, he sometimes employed a richer vocabulary and well-edited sentences. In addition, Trump’s speeches contain relatively more central themes in his campaign speeches. His concentration on political themes may meet key interests of a large proportion of electorates.

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Article details

Is Trump always rambling like a fourth-grade student? An analysis of stylistic features of Donald Trump’s political discourse during the 2016 election
Yaqin Wang, Haitao Liu
First Published November 5, 2017
DOI: 10.1177/0957926517734659
From Discourse & Society

 

 

     
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