Faculty Publications

Title

Speaking Different Languages or Reading from the Same Script? Word Usage of Democratic and Republican Politicians

Document Type

Article

Keywords

elites, Lakoff, language, moral foundations, values

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Political Communication

Volume

33

Issue

2

First Page

212

Last Page

240

Abstract

Words are believed to be indicators of the values that are important to politicians and an impressive amount of empirical research has analyzed variations in language use. While it is generally accepted that there are value differences between Democrats and Republicans, the extent to which these differences are reflected in word usage has been theorized but is largely untested. The connection between values and language is, theoretically, not limited just to politicians, but should be especially evident among politicians as representatives of existing ideological poles. In this article, we examine elite rhetoric through the lens of four value-centered theoretical frameworks (Lakoff’s Parenting Styles model, Moral Foundations Theory, Schwartz’s Values Theory, and Motivated Social Cognition Theory). Contrary to the expectations posited by these four theories, we find little reliable evidence of value-related language differences between Democratic and Republican politicians. Our findings suggest that, at least when it comes to elite rhetoric, widely accepted theoretical claims about the value-based nature of political language and political differences are not consistently supported by empirical analysis.

Original Publication Date

4-2-2016

DOI of published version

10.1080/10584609.2014.969465

Repository

UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa

Language

en

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