‘Mr. President, discourse matters: a contrastive analysis of Donald Trump and Barack Obama’s discourse

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Whether a person is depicted as a hero or a villain, his discourse can be representative of his personality; the way the audience is addressed or the type of used words can play a part in determining the public image of any individual. This paper is contextualized within the analysis of political language. The purpose of this research is to analyze the language forms used by the current president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, and his predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama, and as well to discuss how their linguistic discourse influences their public image in the field of politics. The method implemented in this research is based on the analysis of three main focal points: the amount of words and length of sentences, the morphological composition and the use of pronouns in their speeches. The corpus of this research consists of six speeches which are equivalent in pairs and delivered by each president in the same specific contexts: their presidential announcement, election night victory and inauguration speech. The results obtained in this research show some significant differences between the two presidents regarding the analyzed items and they seem to justify how they affect their public image. In conclusion, it seems that there are some reasons why each president is using or used a specific type of discourse, which is clearly addressing certain people, groups or classes that are willing to support their ideas and proposals.

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1. INTRODUCTION In the last months the US elections has brought the attention of the global mass media and consequently of the public from the whole world. The influence of the US in the world is vastly significant since it is considered to be one of the world potential superpowers together with China and Russia. The decisions taken in any of these countries are crucial for the economy development in the rest of the world. Therefore, the departure and entrance of any new president as well as the election of one or another candidate is highly likely to bring certain changes in the economic field as well as in the environmental, social, and military ones. The current panorama is that the democratic ex-president Barack Obama has abandoned the White House after eight years, whereas the new republican president Donald Trump has taken this empty throne after winning the latest US elections and will remain there at least for four years. In this occasion, the victory of president Trump seems to have created the abyss between his supporters and detractors bigger than ever. Near half of the Americans, seemingly those who voted for him, seem to be fully convinced with Trump’s electoral promises and plans and they think he is the leader that America needs for real changes in politics. On the contrary, there is a group of active detractors among media and population who think the opposite and they are continuously carrying out public protests against the new US president since he was elected in November 2016. In this sense, the information that daily appears in media seems to focus deliberately on responses taken by the president’s detractors immediately after he announces any new actions to be performed or even after any post he publishes in social networks. Besides, it seems that all the decisions that the new president is taking are unpopular, polemic and very negative for America and the rest of the world. This attitude of media towards the republican president is creating a magnifying drama around him, depicting him as a villain. In contrast, it seems that the public image of his predecessor president Obama was generally more positive among Americans when he was first elected despite the fact that he also had his detractors from public and media as well. All in all, the interest awaken in the figure of president Trump is huge and media seems to be magnifying it before even having any results derived from his actions. Despite Trump’s victory in the US elections obtaining fewer votes than his democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, 46.1% and 48.2% respectively, continuous attacks in most media channels do not seem to go in hand with the support of nearly half of the Americans. In this sense, it is a general fact that any president or candidate in any country in the world creates opposition and disagreement among voters as well as in the media channels; however, the case of president Trump seems to be more sounded and criticized than any of his predecessors in the White House. After careful reading and compiling data from some speech scripts from both presidents Obama and Trump (presidential announcement, election night victory, and inauguration), this paper aims at analyzing and comparing the language forms and strategies used by both presidents as well as at discussing how their speech can suggest a public image of either a hero or a villain in the field of politics. Our research hypothesis is that the form of their discourses in terms of length, word categories and use of pronouns can influence positively or negatively the way they are perceived by general public and media. In this sense, it should be anticipated that the public image of Obama seems to be more positive among media and audience than the one of his successor. Before discussing the obtained results, a theoretical framework is introduced in which some background information from both Trump and Obama is used to set the scenario for the discourse analysis. To support this contrastive analysis, a section presenting some ideas about the importance of discourse in politics is introduced with the aim of supporting the conclusions derived from the obtained results. 2. HERO OR VILLAIN: DISCOURSE MATTERS Whether president Obama could be considered a hero or a villain for his mandates and actions, it is a real fact that everyone can opine, regardless on which side of the barricade you are. He left presidency in January 2017 and already can be assessed for the things he did well and those he failed during his eight years in the White House, but acknowledging that what is good for some people can also be harmful for others and the opposite. On the contrary, it is still too early to assess president Trump despite the fact that his electoral promises and first decisions as president were at least controversial. What can be analyzed is their discourse, signs and results that guide us to determine why president Obama had so many supporters during his first campaign and also his first weeks as president whereas president Trump had so many detractors during the same period of time. Results from the previous research by Ahmadian, Azarshahi and Paulhus (2017) suggest that there are three outstanding features around president Trump that make him such a controversial figure. These are his informality, narcissism and dynamism. These features and behavior could be traditionally considered at least unusual when running for president of the United States, Mr. Trump has won the latest elections. So, it should be acknowledged that these elements can be both positive and negative at the same time; they can bring advantages and disadvantages, or pros and cons. Since this study only focuses on language forms and functions through scripts, dynamism will not be considered within this research. Narcissist and Populist vs. Humble Discourse Despite the fact that narcissism is often viewed as something negative, some authors have suggested that it may also be advantageous (Brunell et al., 2008; Engelen, Neumann & Schmidt, 2016; Holtzman, & Strube, 2010; Rosenthal & Pittinsky, 2006). This lack of modesty could be an effective strategy to seek attention, promote oneself and increase self-esteem [Pfeffer 2015]. Rasking and Terry (1988) stated that some characteristics of narcissist people are being manipulative, imperious, vain, arrogant and self-sufficient. According to Pfeffer (2015), narcissist speakers are also likely to be good leaders and they can also move masses because they are established on a well-defined position, they promote an idea, and they strongly defend their arguments considering it the only acceptable one and attacking the opposite view. Deluga (1997) also appointed that a narcissist leader can be associated with charisma; and this may involve gaining support from the public. In terms of discourse analysis, the use of personal pronouns is of relatively high interest to analyze how speakers distinguish between themselves and the others [Ortigues 1977]. In this sense, Rasking and Shaw (1988) considered that narcissist talk involves the use of the first singular person, denoting self-focus and egocentrism. The use of the first singular person can also emphasize the speakers’ emotions in the speech, making the discourse more subjective and creating a sense of proximity and sympathy with the audience [Stigel 2001]. As a result, closeness to the audience is a strategy to create a circle of trust between the speaker and the audience [Saarien 2014]. In the field of political discourse, these ideas might imply that speakers performing narcissist discourse could be attempting to approach middle and lower social classes, convincing emotionally that someone is on their side [McColl-Kennedy & Anderson 2002]. Besides, all these features suggest that leaders using discourse with a narcissist tone could be linked to populism, which is a form of mass politics. The idea of populism is the act of representing ordinary people and masses and opposing elites and privileged groups: I-we vs. the enemy-they [Lafiti 2014]. Another advantage of political populism is that people tend to trust what other people say and consequently a part of them simply takes the decision of supporting a leader without meditating on other possible consequences or disadvantages. In the current century, populist discourse has been mainly driven with certain topics of interest concerning today’s problems such as political corruption, social status and inequality, loss of identity and national values, among others. In this sense, Lafiti [Lafiti 2014] appoints that this type of discourse is often anti-theoretical and anti-intellectual and it is delivered by a charismatic and strong leader, not necessarily friendly. Such speakers argue other positions and can even threaten or show an intolerant attitude. On the contrary, humble discourse is the opposite of a narcissist and populist one. Sometimes humble leaders are seen as weak because they do not show the expected strength like other leaders. Along history, leaders have been glorified and shown as heroes or idols [Morris, Brotheridge, & Urbanski 2005]. In this sense, Rost (1991, 94), leaders were said to have become “a savior like essence in a world that constantly needs saving”. However, humble leadership has also some benefits. Collins (2001) thought that companies or organizations with humble leaders are sustained over longer periods of time even after they retire, and they often become and remain the benchmark of their sector. Besides, embarrassing conflicts such as mistresses, thefts or abuse of power do not seem to be connected with humble leaders. Concerning language use, leaders using humble discourse tend to avoid egocentrism and ‘I-Talk’, using the form ‘we’ instead. Fortanet-Gomez (2004) stated that the use of the first person plural pronoun ‘we’ implies the participation of all the members of a community, group or team and this reinforces the idea of unity above one single person. Beard (2000) thought that plural forms of the first person pronouns are also a strategy to share responsibility between the speaker and the others, delivering an image of union and team work. However, it should be noticed that the pronoun ‘we’ can also imply both inclusion and exclusion, being a pronoun of solidarity as well as rejection: ‘we’ as ‘I + my group’ and ‘we’ as ‘I + you’ [Iñigo-Mora 2004; Pennycook 1994]. Formal vs. Informal Discourse Formality is a type of social deixis that defines the setting or social act in which the language is used [Crystal 1980; Levinson 1983]. In addition to this, Richards et al. (1997) defined formality as the language used in situations when the speaker is very careful about the choice of words and sentence structure. In this sense, formal language is characterized by the special attention paid to the form [Labov 1972]. Besides, there are different elements that can determine the formality of discourse such as discourse directness, morphology and syntax, or terminology (threatening and insults), among others. In this case, the use of pronouns is also relevant because they avoid the repetition of nouns and makes discourse more cohesive and coherent. First of all, the personalization of the discourse with the first person is a characteristic of informality, especially ‘I-Talk’ as it has been previously described. On the contrary, neutral forms denote certain indirectness and this is a form of formality [Yaguchi 2001]. According to Williamson (2006), the use of the second person pronouns involves directness; ‘you’ means invocation and in some context this can be considered non-academic discourse. In words of O’Hair, Rubenstein & Stewart (2004) the second person pronouns should be avoided in formal contexts since this directness is a sign of rudeness and impoliteness in most countries. Furthermore, the function of ‘you’ is to persuade rather than to inform by gaining the attention of the audience to take actions; thus it is a way of showing closeness with the audience [Ajayi & Balogun 2014; Jeon 2003]. Besides, the pronoun ‘you’ tends to be used in familiar circles rather than in professional ones [Swick 2008]. In contrast to the second person pronouns, the third person ones do not directly refer to the speaker or the addressee but to other people or things that are not present at the moment of the speech [Casañ-Pitarch 2016]. In fact, they are the opposite of the second person pronouns [Cornish 2005]. The function of the third person pronouns is quite varied, there are both singular and plural forms and they also distinguish male, female and neutral forms. As it was previously said, pronouns substitute nouns; so masculine and feminine pronouns substitute the person’s proper name. However, in some situations, it may also be considered rude to overuse the third person pronouns instead of the person’s proper name [Quirk et al. 2008]. By the way, the neutral singular form ‘it’ refers to things and ideas, but it can also be used as an anticipatory subject. Carreon (2006) states that this pronoun is usually the most common one since it establishes both neutrality and anonymity. As a result, this neutral form avoids personalization and directness. At last, plural forms are considered what other subjects do, removing responsibility from the speaker and excluding them from the group [Pennycook 1994]. The second element that can also determine formality is morphology and syntax. Concerning how morphology can determine the level of a text or speech formality Heylighen and Dewaele (1999) differentiated between formal and informal elements. According to these authors, words can be context independent (formal) and context dependent or deictic (less formal). Formal categories are nouns, adjectives, prepositions and determiners; whereas pronouns, verbs, adverbs and interjections are deictic forms. Conjunctions are considered neutral. The difference between these two categories is that the independent forms do not require any previous reference to other concepts and they stand on their own whereas dependent forms need other words in order to understand their meaning. As a result, the use of one or another form has certain effect on the audience; in words of Heylighen and Dewaele (1999) the use of formal elements provide the message receivers with fewer chances to be misinterpreted. On the contrary, informal elements are more flexible and thus the message remains more ambiguous and subjective and the audience would take their own interpretations either favoring or disfavoring the communicator’s message. Similarly, discourse syntax also has some influence on the audience. It shall be acknowledged that the standard forms of the language should be considered formal ones whereas those expressions which break with the language recipe grammar should be appointed as less formal. In this sense the order of words, the extension of sentences, or the use of verb forms can also have certain effects on the audience. According to Djafarova (2008), audiences are more easily attracted by short messages rather by long ones; in this sense, direct orders and short messages are far more effective than sentences built with more words than necessary. Besides, if the order of words is the standard (S+V+O/C), the flow of the information is more fluent and the message is transmitted more clearly and direct than in those cases in which the standard order is altered; this results in increasing the possibilities to be understood by the audience. At last, the use of imperative forms is a way of directness and it is connected to persuasion in the sense that the meaning of such messages and the requested action are more easily understood [Taufik, Tarjana, & Nurkamto 2014]. 3. METHODOLOGY As previously stated, the purpose of this research is to analyze and compare the language forms and strategies used by presidents Trump and Obama and consequently to discuss how they influence their public image in the field of politics, being considered either heroes or villains. This main objective is the basis for our hypothesis which questions if there is any evidence for the way presidents’ discourse forms can influence public and media, and how it tells upon their image as political leaders. This research has been performed with a corpus formed by three speeches delivered by President Donald Trump and another three speeches by President Barack Obama. These six speeches are equivalent in pairs: presidential announcement, election night victory and inauguration speech. The total extension of this corpus was 16,438 words. There are three main focal points in this research, and they are related to the amount of words and sentences, morphological content and use of pronouns. In this sense, the quantification of samples for each category has required the use of software: Wordsmith and Taggant. The first, Wordsmith, was used to determine the extension of words and sentences as well as to carry out the analysis on the use of pronouns. On the other hand, the software Taggant will help us determine the morphological content of the corpus in this research. The analysis of this corpus has provided some relevant results that will help us to explain the findings in this research based on the previous literature review before coming to a conclusion that fulfills the main purpose of this research. 4. RESULTS The present section shows the obtained results concerning the extension of the different analyzed speeches, their morphological composition and the use of pronouns. Table 1 shows a comparison between three equivalent speeches delivered by presidents Trump and Obama: presidential announcement, election night victory, and inauguration discourse. In this case, the amount of words and sentences and the average of words per sentence are compared. As it can be observed, the average amount of words per sentence used by Donald Trump in these three speeches (11.58) was superior to the ones employed by Barack Obama (21.85). Furthermore, Trump’s sentences were always shorter in terms of words in comparison to Obama. In addition to these results, it has also been found that Trump’s presidential announcement was clearly the longest among the six speeches analyzed (6,337), whereas the other five had an extension between 1,456 and 2,603 words. Table 1 Speech Extension Donald Trump Barack Obama Sentences Words Words x Sent Sentences Words Words x Sent Presidential announcement 636 6,337 9.96 133 2,603 19.57 Election night victory 101 1,456 14.42 115 2,413 20.98 Inauguration 162 1,680 10.37 78 1,949 24.99 899 9,473 11.58 326 6,965 21.85 The second item in focus was the morphological composition of the six analyzed samples. As it can be observed in table 2, the average composition of the speeches delivered by Obama and Trump differ. For example, Obama wins in the use nouns, determiners, adjectives, prepositions, non-personal pronouns and conjunctions whereas Trump defeats his predecessor in the use of verbs, personal pronouns and adverbs. The use of adjectives and conjunctions is similar in both cases. In this sense, it is especially relevant the difference of determiners, non-personal pronouns and prepositions used by Obama over Trump; and on the other hand, the difference in the use of verbs, personal pronouns and adverbs of Trump over Obama. Furthermore, the difference between the percentage of formal and deictic word categories is +17.40 for Obama and +1.69 for Trump. In this sense, Trump’s discourse contains more deictic forms than Obama’s; and consequently, it seems that the first discourse is less formal than the second one. Table 2 Morphological Composition Nouns Det. Adj. Prep. Verb Pron. Pron. 2 Adv. Conj Trump (T) 22.82% 6.29% 7.04% 11.01% 25.10% 12.72% 2.13% 5.52% 7.36% Obama (O) 24.94% 9.10% 7.60% 13.24% 20.99% 9.29% 3.58% 3.62% 7.65% T vs. O (1) -2.12% -2.81% -0.55% -2.23% 4.11% 3.43% -1.44% 1.90% -0.29% T vs. O (100%) -4.44 -18.26 -3.76 -9.20 8.92 15.58 -25.22 20.79 -1.93 Concerning the use of pronouns, this study focuses on the use of personal ones. As shown in table 3, it can be observed that some pronouns are more usual for one or the other president. On the one hand, the most frequent pronouns in Donald Trump’s discourse are the first person ones, both singular (24.15%) and plural (32.12%). In this sense, 56.27% of the pronouns are the first person ones. The subject pronouns ‘we’ and ‘I’ are the most frequent as shown in table 3. The use of ‘they’ (10.21%) and ‘it’ as an object pronoun (7.22%) is quite relevant; and concerning personal determiners, the form ‘our’ is also very frequent (11.54%). On the other hand, Barack Obama also makes use of the first person (65.12%), but in this case the balance clearly favors the plural form (51.63%). In this case, 26.51% of the pronouns and personal determiners used by Obama refer to ‘we’, 14.88% to ‘our’, 9.92% to ‘us’, and 9.30% to ‘I’. The other pronouns are less often within the discourse of both presidents (> 6%); however, their relevance can be significantly different if they are compared. For example and despite the fact that their use is more limited, the use of the form ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘me’, ‘him’, ‘her’ are more frequent in Donald Trump’s discourse. Another significant difference between Trump and Obama is that the first uses more subject pronouns (59.59% vs. 52.09%) and the second wins the battle in the use of personal determiners (19.09% vs 27.75%). Table 3 Personal Pronouns Subject Pronouns (T: 59.59% - O: 52.09%) Object Pronouns (T: 20.58% - O: 18.60%) I You He She It We They Me You Him Her it Us Them Trump 17.51 5.73 2.49 0.50 4.81 18.34 10.21 3.40 4.23 0.58 0.33 7.22 2.16 2.66 Obama 9.30 4.03 1.55 0.93 4.65 26.51 5.12 1.40 3.26 0.16 0.16 1.40 9.92 2.33 T vs. O 8.21 1.70 0.94 -0.43 0.16 -8.17 5.09 2.01 0.98 0.43 0.18 5.82 -7.76 0.33 Personal Determiners (T: 19.09% - O: 27.75%) Possessive (T: 0.33 - O: 0.31) Reflex. (T: 0.41% - O: 1.24%) My Your His Her Its Our Their Mine Ours Itself Ourselves Themselves Trump 2.99 1.74 0.41 0.08 0.08 11.54 2.24 0.25 0.08 0.08 0.17 0.17 Obama 2.79 2.17 1.40 0.78 1.40 14.88 4.34 0.00 0.31 0.31 0.78 0.16 T vs. O 0.20 -0.43 -0.98 -0.69 -1.31 -3.35 -2.10 0.25 -0.23 -0.23 -0.61 0.01 4. DISCUSSION Based on the obtained results it seems that the discourse of President Trump is more narcissist and populist as well as more informal than the discourse of his predecessor in the White House. On the contrary the discourse of President Barack Obama seems to be delivered with a humble tone and a higher degree of formality in comparison with Donald Trump. However, it shall be acknowledged that both of them won the US elections and became Presidents despite the fact that their discourse forms are quite different in terms of length of their speeches, morphology and the use of pronouns. On the one hand, the public image of President Trump seems to be connected to narcissism and populism as a result of his discourse. Trump has been often appointed as narcissist for his vain, arrogant and self-sufficient personality and populist because of his charismatic and strong leadership, not necessarily friendly, and who can argue other positions with threats and an intolerant attitude. His narcissist attitude seems to be evident in the sense that his discourse contains a high degree of egocentrism as his repetitive ‘I-Talk’ suggests. As it has been explained, ‘I-Talk’ emphasizes emotions and proximity of the speaker with the audience, thus favoring empathy over rationalism. Furthermore, some of his main electoral promises were about creating jobs for Americans, this approach was directed at the middle and lower social classes that consequently experience employment and economic problems. Showing interest in them and appointing a well-defined enemy (corrupt governors, lobbyist and donors) probably resulted in getting benevolence and then further support from these social classes. This is shown in his discourse when President Trump makes use of the exclusive ‘we’ and refers to the enemy as ‘they’. This ‘we’ clearly refers to him and his supporters and voters. He seems to be quite exclusive, not only because of the results obtained in our research, but also for his general attitude towards his detractors and all those who do not support his ideas. As it was seen in some of his speeches, he has even insulted and despised other people, including his opponents and audience as well as groups for their social, racial or gender conditions. Besides, Donald Trump seems clearly to be a populist politician in the sense that his main topics are about political corruption, social status and inequality, loss of identity and national values as it has previously been appointed by Lafiti (2014). The topic of political corruption seems to be a strategy to claim that he will be a better politician than his predecessors, the way of discrediting his opponents regardless his arguments are either true or false. The topic concerning the loss of identity and national values could be a call to patriotism, but in this case, and in contrast with Obama, Trump appoints enemies. As it was stated, these enemies are mainly corrupt governors, lobbyist and donors; however, he also involves countries and people from non-American nationalities as a part of their problems. This is an aspect of prejudice against foreign people and their countries and even racism despite he is not directly accusing them. Instead, he is mentioning them in the process of his attacks and tagging them as a problem for his country. Another feature of Trump’s discourse aimed at obtaining the support of the middle and low working classes was the level of formality in his language, which was lower than the one of his predecessor. The use of a less formal discourse is another strategy to approach the support from lower classes. In this sense, people with more education seem to speak more formally rather than those with a low academic profile. So, this also supposes that President Trump addresses his discourse to people from lower contexts rather than higher or more accommodated ones. In this sense, it has been found that the average length of his sentences is shorter than of those used by president Obama. As previously stated by Djafarova (2008), audiences retain more information and are also further persuaded if their input messages are shorter. Thus, it could be said that the language used by the current president is more persuasive in this sense and addressed to a specific public determined by their social status. Another aspect that implies a higher or lower degree is the use of formal and deictic elements in terms of formality. In this sense, the range of formal elements over deictic ones in Trump’s discourse is +1.69, whereas Obama’s is +17.40. This means that the messages delivered by Trump contain further action (verbs and adverbs), whereas Obama’s ones are more descriptive (nouns, determiners, and prepositions). Surprisingly, the use of adjectives in both cases is similar. Regarding these levels of formality, our results could imply that Trump’s messages are more ambiguous and subjective than his predecessor’s, thus it is another characteristic of a populist discourse in which the audience makes its own interpretations and feels identified with them more easily rather than with higher and elitist classes. For all these reasons, it seems obvious that Donald Trump is approaching a specific audience and aims at controlling them with a defiant and rebellious attitude over those who do not share his view of the world. On the other hand, President Obama used a more formal discourse in comparison to his successor with a humble tone. From the very beginning in his first electoral campaign and along his two mandates, he maintained this image and tone of a humble politician with the formal language. This attitude of a good man against conflicts, controversies and scandals has resulted in the fact that he is adored by a large group of Americans as well as by people from other countries. According to the messages conveyed in his speeches, it seems that he continuously defends the unity of his country, his people and also the whole world rather than appointing an enemy. To start with, Obama uses far less ‘I-Talk’ than Donald Trump as well as less personal pronouns. He mainly delivers his speeches using the pronoun ‘we’, being more inclusive than exclusive since he is not appointing particular enemies as Trump does. Besides, the use of ‘we’ implies the participation of all the members of the community and reinforces the idea of unity (Fortanet-Gomez, 2004). As a result, he creates a friendly and peaceful atmosphere through his discourse and regardless of his actions people are less likely to detract a leader who promotes these ideas. Concerning the extension of his messages, it can be observed in our results that his sentences were longer than Trump’s ones, in this case the average extension of his sentences contained 21.85 words. This is nearly the double of words used by his predecessor. Besides, he also used a higher degree of nouns, determiners and prepositions as well as more non-personal pronouns. This implies that his language is more descriptive, it shows further details and it is more precise than the one used by Trump. Another feature of Obama’s discourse is that it seems to be less populist than the one of Trump; however, he also used some topics that his successor also referred to such as political corruption, social status and inequality. It shall be acknowledged that he talked about the identity and national value but not as a loss. Instead, they were referred to as a virtue that should rise again, not appointing any enemy and sharing the responsibility of growth as an act of patriotism and love towards their nation. Considering that he combines the ideas of unity and patriotism, it is ineludible to think that his discourse promotes a sense of epic; in other words, he refers to heroic deeds from the past as a positive model for the present and future and denoting a certain degree of nostalgia. In this sense, Obama seems to look for unity rather than separatism or appointing enemies; thus, he is avoiding detractors since he is not entering into conflicts with anyone. This does not imply that other people or groups are willing to attack and criticize him; however, he is reducing this risk by not promoting them. As suggested by Collins, humble leaders are less likely to be connected to conflicts and this is a strategy to avoid attacks from media. 6. CONCLUSION It seems that the discourse can be representative of personality of individuals and their attitude towards their audience, and consequently it is a relevant factor to consider when analyzing the public image. In the case of President Trump, it seems that his position against Lobbyists has created certain degree of controversy in the media, which is partially funded by these groups of pressure and influence. Thus, it sounds obvious that they continuously attack him as an opponent to their interests. In this sense, this research has focused on identifying some linguistic elements in the discourse that may justify why some people can appoint Presidents Trump and Obama, either as villains or heroes. In the case of Donald Trump, it seems that he has many supporters that think he is a good leader and could become a national hero; whereas other great part of Americans and also people from the whole world think that his role and attitude are typical of villains. In our analysis, results seem to have determined that his discourse should be classified as narcissist and populist. Regardless of his actions and decisions, his attitude and personality have made that media has also depicted him as a villain. Despite the fact that this data has not been considered in our analysis, it is evident that the media in the USA and internationally does not tend to introduce news about him in a positive way despite his decisions and actions have not shown any results since his time in the White House started only a few months ago. In the case of President Trump, it seems that there is no middle ground, many people support him and many others detract him at the same time. On the contrary, Barack Obama also had his supporters as well as detractors during his first electoral campaign, at the time when he was proclaimed the president of the United States an also during his two complete mandates. However, the humble tone in his discourse probably influenced the fact that he had fewer detractors than Donald Trump seems to have nowadays. Moreover, and despite that he stated that there were problems in the country, Obama did not show such an extremist position against Lobbyists and donors; and he was consequently acclaimed and supported by most media channels. Some of them even introduced him as a light of hope for the country and his people after the two mandates of the Republican President George Bush. As it was observed, Trump’s discourse generally contains longer sentences and further actions with him as protagonist, whereas Obama’s ones tend to be shorter and more descriptive and the unit as a country is the main focus. This contrast of self-prominence could be determinant in the way the audience perceives a leader with more or less positivism and sympathy. This research could be concluded by emphasizing the narcissist and populist ‘I’ and the less formal style of Trump and the humble ‘We’ and more formal and descriptive style of Obama to address their audiences and present facts and ideas. In the future, this research could focus on the analysis of other elements such as the use of imperative and the most frequent terminology, which should also be representative and influential in their discourse forms. Regarding difficulties, the use of the software Taggant still cannot guarantee the best precision in its results; despite the fact that we consider that it is quite accurate and reliable in terms of morphological and syntax analysis. Thus, this work may include certain imprecisions in the course of this analysis despite the fact that they should not make our main findings and conclusions vary.

About the authors

Ricardo Casañ-Pitarch

Universidad Politécnica de Valencia

Email: ricapi@upv.es
Camí de Vera, s/n, 46022 València (PhD in Applied Linguistics) holds a MA in the English language for international trade (Business) and a BA in English Philology. He is currently an Assistant Professor at polytechnic university of Valencia (Spain). His main research interests within the field of applied linguistics are genre analysis and language acquisition. His most recent studies focus on discourse analysis and language acquisition with serious videogames


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