People in the state of the union: Viewing social change through the eyes of presidents

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


On-line databases of presidential speeches now allow for a diachronic exploration of language use at the highest political levels. This allows for a contrast between legislative and legal advances for minorities and the integration of those advances into the presidential lexicon. In this paper, I explore language use pertaining to 'people' in the American State of the Union addresses from 1945 to 2005. I demonstrate that while there was clearly a shift two decades ago to systematically portraying human beings as being made up of two genders, or being subsumed under a gender-neutral term, other aspects of gender, such as parenthood, are still stereotyped by American presidents. In short, analyzing lexical instances related to 'people' in the State of the Union address allows us not only to reflect on the values held by U.S. presidents, but also to systematically uncover how they use language to exercise power on the very people they are elected to serve.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPACLIC 19 - Proceedings of the 19th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes
Event19th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 19 - Taipei, Taiwan
Duration: 1 Dec 20053 Dec 2005


Conference19th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 19

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)

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