We, at IDEAL-English Language and Culture in Brighton/UK, also focus on language styles/registers as part of our language training. When and why do we use a “particular language” to address our target audience more effectively? When and why do we write an email more formally and informally? Can the power of applying the correct language register influence the decision-making of my audience?
Mr. Donald Trump, one of the two candidates of the forthcoming American presidency, seems to be in charge of a highly effective language style that has reached about 50% of all American voters. How come? Sometimes when he speaks he seems erratic and unfocused, but this careful dissection of his speech patterns and constant changes of language registers might be very deliberate. Mr. Trump’s “broken speech” may make him more authentic, relatable and trustworthy. He comes over more of a “genuine guy from next door” rather than a “polished, robot-like” educated speaker. His fragmented sentences and limited vocabulary would normally ruin any presidential campaign, but Mr. Trump’s linguistic delivery mirrors the “average conversation” – which makes voters believe he is an honest outsider. His language bursts of noun phrases, self-interruptions, sudden departures from the theme, flashes of memory, odd and insulting side remarks…..to mention just a few!
Mr. Trump’s speeches are appealing and powerful because he uses a lot of “salesmen’s tricks” that help shape our unconscious. Let’s take, for example, his frequent use of “Many people are saying…” or “Believe me” – often right after saying something that is baseless or untrue. This tends to sound more trustworthy to listeners because he has direct experience what he is talking about. It seems that people believe more in something that has been shared and experienced.
When Mr. Trump keeps calling Mrs. Clinton “crooked”, or keeps referring to terrorists” as “radical Muslims”, he is strengthening the association through repetition. He also calls his supporters “folks”, to show he is one of them. We are all aware of how effective the right language application can be when emotions need to be raised and steered. Quite often, Mr. Trump lets his audience finish his sentences for him and the blanks are filled with sentiments that resonate: fears of joblessness, worries about the US losing its status as a major world power, concerns about foreign terrorist organizations, etc. He connects with his audience on an emotional level. Mr. Trump taps into fear and insecurity, but then enables his audience to express that fear through anger.
In style alone, however, this “emotional” appeal may not be enough to portray a strong leader – or is it going to be enough in our modern world that is so much governed by celebrities and lack of substance?
IDEAL, English Language and Culture in Brighton/UK, would like to hear from you what you think of Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming the next American president. What do you like and dislike about him and Mrs. Clinton?