My project was using Critical Discourse Analysis on two speeches: one from Donald Trump and one from Hillary Clinton, in order to uncover how power was established, subverted, and maintained through their language use.
For a couple of weeks now I’ve had all of the materials that I need to start working on the project, so I’ve begun to read through them leisurely to absorb the information that I’ll use. For Finnish, I’m reading Fred Karlsson’s Finnish: An Essential Grammar, and for Welsh I’m reading A Welsh Grammar by Stephen J. Williams. I’ve managed to find a free Latin textbook online to use for my comparisons, and my references on Quenya and Sindarin are from a page run by the University of Bergen in Norway and a few other sites.
Language use in presidential politics is, inherently, a negotiation of power and power structures. While all language use can be seen in this way, the implications of the presidential nominees’ language use are deep-rooted and far-reaching. Language plays a critical role in how politicians project their platform and attempt to convey their competence for the job. Researching the language of politics at the highest and most performative level can reveal systems of dominance and power that are reflected not only in the ideologies of the politicians themselves, but also in the ideologies of the people who support them. The way a politician uses language, how they buy into or reject underlying structures of dominance, can affect the way people feel toward them, either consciously or not. Analyzing how the presidential nominees in the 2016 election cycle use language to convey power and maintain, create, or subvert power structures is particularly of interest during this politically charged and nebulous time of potentially drastic change. The use of Critical Discourse Analysis can help uncover these implicit and explicit ideas of power expressed by presidential politicians, allowing for a greater understanding of the politicians’ stances.
As I conclude my research, I have come to realize that the topic of linguistic relativity is immensely huge. From all of the different languages that can be studied to all of the different aspects of cognition that can be tested, there is so much out there that my initial proposition evaluating all of the current research on linguistic relativity was deemed impossible pretty early on. But that didn’t stop me from trying to come to my own consensus based on various books that argued both for and against linguistic relativity and many journal articles.