Cross-situational Consistency of Female Politicians’ Language Use

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This article seeks to study political discourses of American female politicians, specifically Madeleine Albright, the first female United States Secretary of State in the history of the United States of America, from 1997 to 2001, Condoleezza Rice, the 66th United States Secretary of State, and Hillary Clinton, the 67th United States Secretary of State. Different in age, ethnicity, political views, educational and social backgrounds, they reveal that in order to succeed in the political arena, women are bound to hide their female personality. Examples in question are Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice, recurrent users of such male discursive features as rhetorical questions, logical order of arguments, conceptual metaphors of war, sports, and hunting. Gender-marked female discourse is characterized by hesitation, use of standard speech, cognitive, social words, and hedges. Research shows that Hilary Clinton is a typical example of the female-marked political discourse. This has enabled her to pursue, among others, a feminist agenda, which has proved an efficient communicative tactic. Drawing on the socialization specifics of Albright, Rice, and Clinton, the paper explains why Albright and Rice tend to have a male-marked discourse and Clinton a female-marked discourse, as the first female Secretary of State, Albright simply had no female role models, with only male predecessors before her. She seeks to make her speech as neutral as possible, just at times exploiting female discursive patterns. Condoleezza Rice, Albright’s successor, uses characteristically male discourse the most. It can be attributable to the fact that she belongs to two ‘minority’ groups: women and African Americans. Sounding femalish might have weakened her chances to stay the strong Secretary of State that the geopolitical situation would demand. It is noteworthy that female politicians can, or have to, switch between male-marked and female-marked discourses in order to achieve certain goals and preserve their current status.

About the authors

Denis S. Mukhortov

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.

PhD in Philology, Associate Professor of the Department of English Linguistics, Faculty of Philology

Leninskie Gory, 1, Moscow, Russian Federation, 119991

Yana S. Malyavina

Lomonosov Moscow State University


Department of English Linguistics, Faculty of Philology

Leninskie Gory, 1, Moscow, Russian Federation, 119991


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Copyright (c) 2019 Mukhortov D.S., Malyavina Y.S.

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