US-VERSUS-THEM POLARIZATION IN THE US PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES OF 2000

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Abstract

Political discourse as a specific sign system in which the meaning depends on the speaker’s intention tends to portray participants in terms of “us” versus “them”, which makes “us-versus-them” polarization one of the main distinguishing features of political discourse. The onset of the 21st century is a turning point in the history of geopolitics, which requires politicians to be more creative in search of vote-winning means. The pragmasemantic approach allows to study presidential debates between 1. Bush and Al Gore from the standpoint of semantics which studies meaning and which has been recently affected by pragmatics that deals with non-linguistic aspects of meaning such as the context of a situation and the speaker’s intention. The presidential debates of 2000 are a vivid illustration of how two opposing politicians strive to share the same objective though different language means. The contentanalysis program LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) was used in order to verify the results of research. The analysis of Pronouns, Positive/Negative Emotions, and Tense Focus through LIWC makes a contribution to political discourse studies. This article illustrate how various language means such as use of pronouns “we” and “they”, specific vocabulary and slogans, when grouped together, can appear to be an efficient research tactic.

About the authors

Denis S. Mukhortov

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

Author for correspondence.
Email: dennismoukhortov@mail.ru

Ph.D. in Philology; Associate Professor, Department of English Linguistics, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Leninskiye Gory 1, Moscow, Russia, 119991

Elizaveta A. Zhovner

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

Email: lisayka@mail.ru

Department of English Linguistics, Faculty of Philology, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Leninskiye Gory 1, Moscow, Russia, 119991

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Copyright (c) 2019 Mukhortov D.S., Zhovner E.A.

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