How Trump’s language shifted in the weeks leading up to the Capitol riot – 2 linguists explain

How Trump’s language shifted in the weeks leading up to the Capitol riot – 2 linguists explain

“Fight like hell,” President Donald Trump implored his supporters. “And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” …

Throughout his presidency, Trump’s unorthodox use of language has fascinated linguists and social scientists. But it wasn’t just his words that day that led to the violence.

Starting with a speech he made on Dec. 2 – in which he made his case for election fraud – we analyzed six public addresses Trump made before and after the riot at the Capitol building. The others were the campaign rally ahead of the runoff elections in Georgia, the speech he made at the “Save America” rally on Jan. 6, the videotaped message that aired later that same day, his denouncement of the violence on Jan. 7 and his speech en route to Texas on Jan. 12.

Together, they reveal how the president’s language escalated in intensity in the weeks and days leading up to the riots. …

Researchers have noted how people routinely alter their speaking and writing depending on whether a setting is formal or informal. In formal venues, like the State of the Union speeches, textual analysis has found Trump to use language in ways that echo his predecessors. …

By Roger J. Kreuz & Leah Cathryn Windsor, University of Memphis

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