Using the process of breaking language down and critically analysis the parts and words of sentences used by individuals I am able to tell and construct some of the ideologocial meaning behind their choice of language and reveal what it says about them and the messages they have for us.
My case study are excerpts taken from Donald Trump during the speeches and answers he gave in the 2nd Presidential debate.
All passages used can be found online at http://www.macleans.ca/politics.
Donald Trump: The Obama Administration, from the time they’ve come in, is over 230 years’ worth of debt and he’s topped it. He’s doubled it in the course of almost eight years, seven and a half years to be semi-exact.
So I will tell you this: we have to do a much better job at keeping our jobs, and we have to do a much better job at giving companies incentive to build new companies to expand because they’re not doing it. And all you have to do is look at Michigan and look at Ohio and look at all of these places where so many of their – their jobs are just leaving. They’re gone.
And Hillary, I just ask you this. You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now? For 30 years, you’ve been doing it and now you’re just starting to think of solutions.
Look at them, not at me
In the first passage I analysed, I noted the heavy use of ‘us’ and ‘they’re’ in Trump’s speech. From that, I observed Trump was establishing a divide between the American society he classed himself as belonging to, and a ‘them’ group that he excluded. Here he defines ‘them’ as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
He blames Obama and the Administration he created under his regime for adding to the nation’s debt. He is using this criticism to discredit Obama and boost his own self-image. At least he attempts to do this. The first lines of the paragraph are confused and unclear.
This is true, I think…
He says the Administration has accumulated ‘over 230 years’ worth of debt’ as opposed to giving a specific figure. It is hard to tell what 230 years’ worth of debt looks like, so the audience will struggle to follow what he means by this. This is not the normal way to measure debt; people usually give a nominal money figure. It suggests Trump does not know the true amount, and this lack of research and specificity could lead an audience to doubt what he is saying is true.
Trump has failed to communicate his points clearly, during an oral debate, sentences should be easy for the audience to follow. Trump’s speech dirties the water. It is easy to miss the exact point of what he is saying and by causing his audience to have to think so hard, he is losing their attention.
Trump ends his statement by using the term ‘to be semi-exact.’ What does this mean? No one says semi-exact. Facts are stated with certainty; there should be no room for doubt if you are backing up a point. It makes you look weak and unsure; therefore, your audience will be unsure of you. It seems like Trump is does not fully understand what he is saying, and implies what he is claiming may not be completely true.
Attack is all I have
Trump has heavily attacked his opponents in this paragraph; both his rival Clinton and the current president who he also views as opposition. He relies on discrediting them, more than telling his audience why he would make a good president. It implies he may not have much to offer to aid his win; the only way he can is by knocking out his competition.
Trump uses no language here to inspire hope in his audience, nor does he give any explanation as to what he will actually do for his country. He uses only negativity, fear and hate.
This tactic indicates Trump is a selfish man, interested only in a vendetta against those he feels have wronged him, as opposed to promoting the things he will do to serve the people of America and their interests.
I’m telling you
Trump is very authoritative in the way he speaks. He uses phrases like ‘I will tell you’ and ‘all you have to do is look.’ It is a negative way to address people. Using instructions to control your speech is demanding and puts people off. They respond more to a friendly, warmer tone. Trump tells the audience what to do instead of opening up the floor and being a welcome recipient to their suggestions.
Also instead of providing his audience with facts, he tells them to look for it themselves. He is getting the audience to do their own research, which is a lazy and uninspiring attitude to have during a campaign. Trump’s lack of knowledge and evidence is a failure on his behalf, for him to offer the audience the information they need.
I hear your question, but I won’t answer it
Once again, Trump manages to govern the debate according to his own rules. Instead of answering the question directly; he moves the discussion once more onto employment, a subject he has already discussed at length. This seems arrogant, and could suggest Trump did not conduct other research and cannot talk in detail about any other subject the audience were interested in learning about and wanted answers to.
This passage demonstrates the demanding nature of Trump’s personality. In this speech he uses many imperatives and instructive words to place himself in a position of power and authority. Trump is attempting to express himself as a leader and a respected man who calls the shots and exudes no weakness.
The topics of conversation that he focuses on here are all self- relevant. It suggests the primary concern for him is his own appearance and how he presents himself to another.
Do you agree with what has been found here? What do you think? Post or comment below.