Talking with the President: The Pragmatics of Presidential Language

Paperback | April 1, 2015

byJohn Wilson

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This book provides a pragmatic analysis of presidential language. Pragmatics is concerned with "meaning in context," or the relationship between what we say and what we mean. John Wilson explores the various ways in which U.S. Presidents have used language within specific social contexts toachieve specific objectives. This includes obfuscation, misdirection, the use of metaphor or ambiguity, or in some cases simply lying. He focuses on six presidents: John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald W. Reagan, William F. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama. These presidents cover most of the last half of the twentieth century, and the first decade of the twenty first century, and each has been associated with aspecific linguistic quality. John F. Kennedy was famed for his quality of oratory, Nixon for his manipulative use of language, Reagan for his gift of telling stories, Clinton for his ability to engage the public and to linguistically turn arguments and descriptions in particular directions. Bush, onthe other hand, was famed for his inability to use language appropriately, and Obama returns us to the rhetorical flourishes of early Kennedy. In the case of each president, a range of specific examples are explored in order to highlight the ways in which a pragmatic analysis may provide an insightinto presidential language. In many cases, what the president says is not necessarily what the president means.

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This book provides a pragmatic analysis of presidential language. Pragmatics is concerned with "meaning in context," or the relationship between what we say and what we mean. John Wilson explores the various ways in which U.S. Presidents have used language within specific social contexts toachieve specific objectives. This includes obf...

John Wilson is Professor of Communciation at the University of Ulster.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 0.91 inPublished:April 1, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199858799

ISBN - 13:9780199858798

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Table of Contents

1. Hail to the Chief: Pragmatics and the President2. Talking Pragmatics with the Best and the Brightest: John F Kennedy3. Lies, Truth, and Somewhere in between: Richard M. Nixon4. The Narrative Presidency: Ronald Regan and Stories From The White House5. It's Language Jim, But Not As we know it: William J Clinton6. Bring em on! The Empire Strikes Back: George W Bush7. There and Back Again With Barack H ObamaAfterwordReferences