Language, attitudes and party politics: The representation of Republicans and Democrats in Presidential weekly addresses

Dezheng Feng, Shuo Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study investigates Barack Obama's attitudes towards Republicans and Democrats by analyzing a corpus of 249 Presidential weekly addresses. Analysis shows that Obama's attitudes towards the Republicans are characterized by a negative judgment of propriety, creating a negative image of the Republican Party, whereas when Republicans and Democrats are mentioned together, his attitudes are characterized by his hopes for and commendations on bipartisan collaboration. An analytical model based on the attitude schema is proposed to explicate the strategies for encoding attitudes. It is found that negative attitudes are always expressed implicitly by recounting events that elicit the attitudes (i.e. behaviors of the Republicans) and performing speech acts that are motivated by the attitudes (i.e. urging the Republicans to stop the wrong behaviors). The patterns of attitudes reflect bipartisan conflict and cooperation on the one hand, and constitute an important strategy to battle against the opposition party and build coalitions on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-251
Number of pages20
JournalPragmatics and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Attitudes
  • Barack Obama
  • Party politics
  • Political discourse analysis
  • Presidential rhetoric
  • Weekly addresses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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