In convention speeches and inaugural addresses, presidential candidates and newly-elected presidents attempt to persuade listeners to vote for and support them. One persuasive tool that they use in these speeches is metaphor, considered a fundamental form of reasoning (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). The present study focuses on three conceptual metaphors (POLITICS IS WAR, POLITICS IS A JOURNEY, and POLITICS IS LOVE) used in 40 speeches given by American presidents from 1944 to 2021 in order to see if there are differences in metaphor usage across political party (i.e., Democrat and Republican) and across speech type (i.e., nomination acceptance and inaugural address). All speeches were double-coded for the three metaphors by a group of trained raters, and the average count for each metaphor type per speech was found using a many-facet Rasch measurement. Mixed-effects regressions were then conducted to determine differences across political party and speech type. No quantitative differences were found in the use of these metaphors, suggesting the possibility that these speeches represent a genre of political discourse with particular patterns of metaphor usage. Some qualitative differences between political party and speech type are discussed, as well as limitations and future directions for research.
College and Department
Humanities; Linguistics and English Language
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Woods, Kelly N., "War, Love, and Journeys: A Comparative Analysis of Conceptual Metaphors in Political Speeches" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9611.
conceptual metaphors, political discourse, persuasion