Inclusive Pronouns in Selected Political Speeches of Hillary Clinton. A Linguistic Study

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2017
20 Pages



1. Introduction
1.1 Public Speaking
1.2 The Context of Human communication
1.3 Pronouns in Political Speeches

2. Pronouns
2.1 Types of Pronouns
2.2 Inclusive pronouns

3. Methods

4. Data

5. Analyzing Clinton's Speech
5.1 Clinton's Speech at Georgetown Institute
5.2 Clinton's Concession Speech at Presidential Election
5.3 Clinton's Speech in New York

6. Conclusion



Political speeches have different tools in making speeches so influential. One of these tools is using inclusive pronouns. The study concentrates on a famous political figure, Hillary Clinton, who is nominated for running a president. Clinton has a long history in politics and elections. The study analyses three speeches about three different occasions during her time in 2016. The results of these speeches show that inclusive pronouns are highest among other personal pronouns.

1. Introduction

Language is still one of these tools that makes the reality different. It specially takes an important role in public speaking. We use language not just to tell what we have in our minds, rather we construct our world by choices in language and build more ideas and concepts. Politics is like any other field which never neglects language but it uses language more effectively to achieve more aims. However, the definition of politics is variable. It is defined according to the function of politics itself. Cultures understand politics in the way they understand world. Consequently, the concept of politics is reflected in language that addresses their existence. Chilton (2004: 3) states that there are two directions regarding the definition of politics. The first one considers politics a fight among those who look for power and those who resist that power. The second one looks at politics as a way of collaboration among those who negotiate to find out a solution for the engagements about money, influence, liberty and so on. Beard (2000: 4) points to the fact that the word politics has a classical Greek root meaning " city ", citizen, " civic ", but the Greek philosopher Plato himself treats politics as " nothing but corruption".

Miller (1991: 390) observers that political process usually includes persuasion and bargaining. Hence, it is important to elucidate the use of language in establishing the effects of authority, legitimacy, consensus and the like that are fundamental to politics. In addition to that, politics, as other domains, has its own code, a terminology being used by linguists to refer to a language variety particular to a specific group (Beard, 2000: 5).

1.1 Public Speaking

The life is changing every day and every year. This progress of life frames the way we use language to address the people in different events. Lamerton (2001: 8) says, “ speech is like an iceberg. The part below the surface that no one sees, the preparation of the speech, is 90 per cent of it – but the audience only sees the 10 per cent that is the presentation.ˮCoopman and Lull (2012: 4) define public speaking when a person is speaking to a group of people about a certain topic during a limited time in a particular place. So, politicians speak in public to address their supporters and audience trying to convince them about certain political issues. For instance, Hillary Clinton had a number of speeches regarding her election campaign and how she was speaking to her voters to sustain the trust inside their minds. Nelson et al (2008: 7) add another point in public speaking in which people the democratic societies have the freedom of expressing their ideas and opinions, for that reason is vehemently important to learn and develop public speaking effectively. This point has been emphasized by American institution.

1.2 The Context of Human communication

There are a number of situations through which we communicate and interact. According to Coopman and Lull (2012: 14 -15) there are five kinds of human context as follows:

1. Interpersonal communication occurs between two or more people talking to each other as unique individuals. You maintain personal relationships with friends, family, and coworkers through interpersonal communication.
2. In small-group communication, three or more people interact to accomplish a task or reach a shared objective. Local theater groups, committees, and collaborative work groups are examples of small groups.
3. Organizational communication takes place within and among organizations for the purpose of accomplishing common goals, such as creating products and offering services. Organizations often provide the setting for speeches, as when a department manager gives a presentation to senior executives.
4. Mass communication originates with a media organization such as NBC, People magazine, XM Satellite Radio, or The New York Times and is transmitted to large, fairly anonymous, and oft en diverse audiences.
5. Public communication occurs when an individual speaks to a group of people, assuming primary responsibility for speaking for a limited amount of time. This kind of human communication is what the study focuses on adapting Clintons' speech.

1.3 Pronouns in Political Speeches

Speech is one of the tools that politicians use wisely. By speech politicians create the aspect of persuasion in their audience's minds. Therefore, there are a number of linguistic elements or devices being used in speech for that matter, like pronouns. Beard (2000: 35-6) refers to the kinds of speeches in politics not just as debating between parties but there are other forms of speeches such as, the college lecture, the religious sermons, the social club AGM and other forms as events of formal speeches. In all these kinds of speeches, rhetorical skills are needed for communication better and persuasion.

Obeng and Hartford (2002: 10) mention the function of the political pronouns as a way of referring to the roles like agency or individuals as self-reference and identity.

Beard (2000: 44-5) argue that pronouns are vital in politicians speeches because the make the influence of speech so plaint and this is what all politician want in their political campaigns or policies. There are five ways that politicians use pronouns as follows:

1. They can use the first person singular pronoun I such as: Today I intend to reduce the taxes.
2. They can use the first person plural pronoun We such: Today we intend to raise taxes.
3. They can refer to their position: The chancellor must raise taxes for the long term of the nation's economy.
4- They can use no agentive pronoun at all instead using agentless passive without mentioning the direct responsibility like. it has been found necessary to raise the taxes.
5. They can use a form of metonymy by making what they have created – their budget into an agent itself: this budget will help all those on low incomes.

2. Pronouns

Trask (2007: 233) defines pronouns as a part of speech that include the words like, them, she and something. Pronouns are different from other parts of speech, and any pronoun is a single word or scarcely a longer form. They have no meaning as independent words, and their function is as a complete noun phrase. Crystal (2008: 391) states that pronouns,“ a term used in the grammatical classification of words, referring to the closed set of items which can be used to substitute for a noun phrase (or single noun). “

2.1 Types of Pronouns

According to Finegan (2008: 38), there are five kinds of pronouns as follows:

1. Personal PronounsThe most familiar pronouns are personal pronouns, such as I, me, she, him, they, and theirs. Primarily, personal pronouns are distinguished from one another by representing different parties to a social interaction like a conversation. This aspect of pronouns is called person: the first person is the speaker or speakers; the second person is the person or persons spoken to (the addressee); and the third person is the persons or things spoken about.

First person—speaker: I, me, mine, we, us, ours

Second person—addressee: you, yours

Third person—spoken about: she, her, hers, he, him, his, it, its, they, them, theirs.So political pronouns are under this type of pronouns

2.Demonstrative pronounsrefer to things relatively near (this, these) or, by contrast, relatively far away (that, those) when the referent can be identified by pointing or from the context of a discussion. Examples of demonstrative pronouns include that in That really bothers Guy and those in Those are Guy’s.

3.Interrogative pronounsare used to ask questions. Who in Who played the role of Emma? and what in You told Rosie what? and What did you tell Rosie? are interrogative pronouns. In the sentence Whose are those?, whose is an interrogative pronoun (those is a demonstrative pronoun).

4.Relative pronounshave the same forms as other kinds of pronouns, but are used differently. In the sentences that follow, examples include who (in 1), that (in 2), and which (in 3). Other relative pronouns include whose and whom. Notice that a relative pronoun is related to a preceding noun phrase. In the examples, the relative pronoun and the related noun phrase are italicized, with the relative pronoun underlined.

1. Ellen’s a doctor who specializes in gerontology.
2. The show that won most awards is “60 Minutes. ”
3. She’s a licensed masseur, which I am not.

5. Indefinite Pronounsis the name used for a set of pronouns whose referents are identifiable but not specified: one, some, someone, anyone, everyone, no one, somebody, anybody, everybody, nobody, something, anything, everything, nothing.

2.2 Inclusive pronouns

These pronouns are used by politicians specially in case of making connection and shared views and feelings. For that reason, they choose them to be fit to the event or any political occasion. Obeng and Hartford (2002: 10-11) use the term political pronouns to refer to the inclusive pronouns. Inclusive pronouns are we and our and exclusive pronouns are you, your, they, their and these pronouns are common among politicians sincerity to their group and to convey their prejudice about other politicians. In other words, the pronouns help to establish a contrast between a politician's group and that of his political opponents.


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Inclusive Pronouns in Selected Political Speeches of Hillary Clinton. A Linguistic Study
Master in Applied Linguistics
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Hayder Ankushi (Author), 2017, Inclusive Pronouns in Selected Political Speeches of Hillary Clinton. A Linguistic Study, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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