The third quarter of my investigation into linguistic analysis of Trump’s speeches during the presidential campaign. In these posts I am demonstrating some of the processes linguists, writers and audiences alike put into practice when coming into contact with texts (spoken and written) in institutions they consume such as the media, or in politics. Often they will learn from the things they observe and will use these practices when reading or engaging with other works of literature so they may apply the obtained awareness to their own creations or communication.
Donald Trump: Your regulations are a disaster, and you’re going to increase regulations all over the place. And by the way, my tax cut is the biggest since Ronald Reagan. I’m very proud of it. It will create tremendous numbers of new jobs, but regulations, you are going to regulate businesses out of existence. When I go around, Lester, I tell you this, I’ve been all over, and when I go around, despite the tax cut, the things that businesses and people like the most is the fact I am cutting regulation.
Me, Myself and I
This part of Trump’s speech is in response to Hillary Clinton who was awarded the first two minutes to reply to a question asked by the audience. We can suppose when he is using the word ‘you’ he is referring to her.
The graph below shows how much time of the speech is dedicated to speaking about specific people. 1st person pronouns are the most used, showing Trump has spent quite a bit of time here talking about himself. Next most frequently used pronouns are in the second person, showing he has addressed a good portion of his speech to Clinton.
The least amount of time is spent talking about the audience and public outside of the debate. This could imply something regarding his priorities as he is conducting his campaign.
Emotive Play and Loaded Words
The paragraph is loaded with emotive ploy. He uses exaggerated language once again; words like ‘disaster’ and ‘out of existence’ to stimulate negative associations with Clinton and to make out everything is doom and gloom. In stark contrast when Trump discusses himself, he uses highly positive language like ‘tremendous’ and ‘I’m very proud.’ He is making Clinton look bad, and in comparison, him look good.
Look at Me
However, the subjects of his bragging refer only to his wealth and the businesses he owns. He strays off topic from the question and instead begins likening himself to Ronald Reagan. He has done this to big himself up by using a historical character who was once President of the United States. Is this how Trump thinks of himself? Is he saying he believes he is already President? Is he so arrogant he believes there is no competition?
It is also a reference to how rich Trump is. He is using these attributes to show the power he believes his money gives him, using his status as a wealthy man to buy the support of voters.
Its all business with me
He says the thing people most like about him is that he is cutting regulation, not that they like him most because he is a nice person. Not once does Donald Trump refer to anything about his personality that people like. He maintains an impersonal tone, keeping it all business. It shows a lack of care for connecting with his audience and the people of his country. Possibly suggesting he cares very little for their welfare at all.
The fact his best foot forward in this paragraph is that he is ‘cutting regulation’ says something about what kind of candidate Trump is attempting to be. He is using the public’s distrust of the current system to feed his own campaign. He does this by painting himself out to be a renegade; one for cutting regulations and not abiding by them.
In this paragraph the language has strayed from the structure expected of a political speech. Emotive words and personal opinion are used far more than facts or figures. This could be a persuasive ploy that is appealing to the audience, or it may suggest a poorly planned political speech.
The lack of evidence presented may cause doubt in the audience as to how Trump plans to deliver on these promises he is making, and without substantial backing it can make the points deployed look empty, or words lacking in intention.
The vague terminology he uses, that are repeated constantly, imply he doesn’t know what else to say to fill out his time. The lack of engagement with his audience is careless, and an oversight on Trump’s behalf. He seems ignorant of the fact this face-time is used by candidates to build connections with their audience, to earn their trust and vote. He seems more preoccupied for finding a stage for his own achievements and an audience to observe him attempt to humiliate his female rival.