An Analysis and Comparison of the Differences in the Realization of Interpersonal Functions in Different Political Keynote Speeches

Zijun Shen, Mingting Zhao


This research employs Halliday's theory of the interpersonal function to scrutinize and contrast language patterns and techniques in keynote speeches delivered by notable political figures, specifically former US President Donald Trump, ex-UK Prime Minister Theresa May, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the era of globalization, where increased interconnectedness emphasizes the importance of political speeches, shaping nations and reflecting the interests and identities of stakeholders, it is crucial to examine these speeches. The analysis identifies shared traits, including skillful use of first-person language to establish authority and self-expression, in addition to the use of medium-valued modal verbs and declarative mood for interpersonal connection and viewpoint assertion. The study explores variations in Trump's "America First" inaugural address and disparities in speeches by Trump and May that are related to high-valued modal and second-person verbs, highlighting their different political backgrounds. Furthermore, it evaluates the interpersonal function in Hillary Clinton's speeches, examining language's effectiveness in engaging audiences and accomplishing different speech objectives. By examining these patterns, this research supports a better understanding of cultural differences between the United States and Britain, revealing linguistic tools that help political figures connect with audiences and accomplish specific speech goals. This cross-cultural study provides detailed insights into language's role in political communication, deepening our understanding of leaders' strategies for effective agenda communication and resonance with constituents.

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