“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
What do we know about the political language? Is it a weapon of the politicians to rule or it is a lie? What is it at all? Politics and its aspects do not exist without any relation to language, because language is the way to confirm people. Politicians may speak a lot, but it doesn’t mean that this will be done. This is the way to make people’s minds full of their wishes. People here what they want to hear, while the politicians talk everything what it necessary to say. The speech of any politician reflects his deep and moral principles. Politicians are like actors, they play different roles, and their first and the most necessary skill is speaking. This research is aimed to understand what political language is, what its methods are and to analyze power and influence of political language within contemporary society. Filling the political communication, the language is extremely effective policy tool, the struggle for power, influence and control, as well as the essential content of political communication. As a result, there exists the impact from macro social level of international politics to the nano level, for example, an individual opinion.
The key terms, which are interesting in this research, are as the following: political language, politicians` behavior, society, elections, power. (Carver and Pikalo 2008, p. 11)
The above mentioned quote of George Orwell is really the true one, because it shows the politics as the subtle game of people, who have power and want it more. So, what is political language? Language, in which politicians interact with their voters, has its peculiarities. It is an integral part of the political culture of society. In a sense, the political language can be viewed as a natural code of political culture, and the code that opens access to almost all its fields and layers. In addition, the language is a means of communication between the leader and his constituents. The language acts in some way as a link of political society, as a tool to maintain the necessary level of information of society. (Edelman 1974, p. 299) The language like any other media is a powerful tool for manipulating the consciousness of voters. The political language is a system of communication coding tools of political information, to provoke political action and its managing. (Partington 2003, p. 27)
The language not only represents politics that it is a politics itself. The importance of language of political symbols is not derivable in this case from the lexical content of words and sentences, it is given to a specific political situation. The purpose of any political communication is to hold certain interests and intentions. In this sense, language serves not as a policy tool of symmetrical communication between the high and low classes, but only as an instrument of political struggle. You can specify the two basic functions of the language of political communication: 1. The identification function (integration and differentiation). Especially in the elective struggle language serves as a unifying symbol that ensures cohesion of the group (“we”) in relation to others (“them”). The usage of the various linguistic forms (slogans, metaphors, idioms, etc.) gives the face of the political fronts. 2. Managerial function. Aimed and strategically planned usage of language, particularly in the electoral struggle, manages not only the attention of the public, but also its judgments, behavior and actions. In this sense, language is an integral part of political propaganda, controlling and shaping public’s opinion. 3. The next and really necessary function of political language is manipulation. Politicians talk about the problems to be solved, and it suborns, because the powerful politician is interested in the problems of common citizens of his country. (McCombs and Shaw 1972, p. 180)
The characterization of political language consists of also the fact that it is multidimensional, it means that it is addressed simultaneously to different groups and can cause them to different reactions. Itself, however, the multidimensionality of political language does not ensure public support to it in the flow of mass communications. Political language must in addition have a pronounced partisanship (based on the antithesis of the friends and the enemies. Just in such a way the language does its identification function. The logical structure of any symbol discovers the formal analogy with the logical structure of the corresponding object; we can identify a number of formal properties of political language, which correspond to the causes of public reactions. It’s about the stylistic elements such as orders, definitions, evidence and judgments. In their various combinations these elements form at least four clearly distinct linguistic styles used in the political governance:
1 . Appealing language.
It is used in situations where you must call the broad political support for large target groups: during election campaigns, referenda and parliamentary debates, etc. Here the general terms like “capitalism”, “totalitarianism”, “social justice” etc. are often used.
2. Legal language of constitutions, laws and codes of laws, treaties, agreements, etc.
In regard to syntax, legal language consists entirely of definitions and requirements. For the audience it gives the impression of exceptional precision in terms of socio-political problems.
3. The bureaucratic language as the language of the administrative rules, regulations, decrees, and so.
It reveals some similarities with the legal language (the exact language requirements), but differs in some important formal aspects: in the usage of language (not publicly elected government, but appointed officials), in the recipient (not the electorate, and the clientele), in the nature of the mass reaction to this style (no sympathy, just an annoyance and ridicule).
4. The language of negotiations.
As well as appealing language it is used to gain support for particular political positions. But these types of political languages differ considerably among themselves in the situation of their application, the nature of communicative parties and passed meanings in the course of linguistic communication. The public resonance in this case is not only undesirable, but even avoided. Modern political practice shows that the use of the power of certain linguistic styles often turns out to be a clear indicator of the actual political functions of public bodies than the traditional distinction between the executive, legislative and judicial authorities. (Kimmel, p. 4)
There is also the other chart of kinds of political language:
-Written texts: political journalism, declarations, constitutional texts;
– Spoken monologues: elections, inauguration, international conferences;
– Spoken dialogs: debates on TV, discussion on the highest level, briefings. (Fairclough 1989, p. 34)
Just how much political language is experiencing the influence of specific socio-historical and socio-political situation, it indicates a state, which in this area has developed in Nazi Germany and the Bolshevik regime in the USSR. In Germany, there was created a particular ideological language, Lingua Tertii Imperil (LTI), which was the Language of the Third Reich. It was characterized by the introduction of many neologisms, or change, emasculation, and falsification of the old accepted terms and concepts, which have been adapted to the spirit and the form of Nazi ideology. So the main methods of the political language are: slogans, mottos, key symbols, emotional influence, political formula and miranda, which is political doctrine. (Lasswell 1949, p. 16) All these methods are aimed to involve the voter into the movement of this or that politician and manipulate people. Also politicians may use meaningless words, which sound pompous or, on the contrary, very simple, but have no sense at all, or they may saturate their speech by many high words, metaphors, neologisms to perplex the listener with the great quantity of the words, which are hardly rendered to the normal language. Moreover, the political speechwriters, who are professionals and know all the political tricks of influence, prefer to use passive voice instead of active to bamboozle the listener with the long constructions of the sentence, to deprive the listener from the opportunity to hear the verb, which is the main part of the sentence as it defines the action. (Orwell 1946)
The power of political language within contemporary society is enormous. As we live in democracy and openness of thoughts, we hear the politicians almost every day, but when the time of elections comes, we are overwhelmed by all these political tricks. Of course, in the countries, where everything is more or less good during the world crisis, these political games have no such impact on society. When people live in good conditions, when they can receive education, medical help, insurance, social guarantees, they are less involved in politics. But unfortunately, the quantity of such countries in the world doesn’t exceed 5 per cent. But still such countries have the opportunity to be perfected. And the majority of countries all around the world have great problems with and without the world crisis. There politicians are the stars, who lie, but sound truthful, or say the truth, but do not want to translate promises into actions. They are active only when the time of elections comes, and the people are to make a decision, whose liar is better and more convincing? They say really nice speeches, with the propositions of improvement of the country, but when they are already elected, they forget about their promises. This truth is unerring in the majority of cases. But we want to believe that in the nearest future the world community will listen to the only truthful politicians, which do not use some language hints to fool people for their personal wealth and power.
Carver, T. and Pikalo, J. 2008, Political language and Metaphor, Routledge, New York.
Edelman, M. 1974, “The political language of the helping professions.” Politics and Society, p.295-310.
Fairclough, N. 1989, Language and Power, Longman, London.
Kimmel, R. “Political language”.
Lasswell H.D. 1949, Language of Politics: Studies in Quantitative Semantics. Chapter 1. George W. Stewart, Publisher, Inc., New York, p. 3-19.
McCombs M.E. and Shaw D.L 1972, “The agenda-setting function off mass media.” Public opinion quarterly, p.176-187.
Orwell, G. 1946, “Politics and English language”.
Partington, A. 2003, The Linguistics of Political Argument: The spin-doctor and the wolf-pack at the White House, London, Routledge.