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ANALYSIS OF SPEECH ACTS AND IMPLICATIONS ON DONALD

TRUMPS SPEECH OF PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN


ANNOUNCEMENT, JUNE 16, 2015

The 4th Graduate Students Conference

By
Prabarini Dwi Pangestu

156332003

Ludmila Martha

156332014

F. Sabrina Cahyamitha

156332023

ENGLISH LANGUAGE STUDY


SANATA DHARMA UNIVERSITY
YOGYAKARTA
2015

Abstract
In politic, we have to be critical to the language used by the politicians
particularly during the presidential campaigns. There are some aspects which
differentiate the political language from daily language. The language in politic is
very suggestive in term of the choice of the words functioned as the means to
persuade the people who will vote for the candidates. Often, we are not aware of
being persuaded because the language is very well-arranged that the intention of
the candidates could be covered. This study deals with an analysis of speech acts
and implications on Donald Trumps speech of presidential campaign
announcement. It aims to explain the function of language in the campaign and to
uncover certain implications related to the language functions. This paper used
discourse analysis as the method of the study. The language found in the speech
served as representatives, directives, commissives, and expressives, and
declaratives functions. Whereas the implications, we found out a lot of violation
to the Grices four principles of maxims. Maxim of quantity has been the major
violation found in the speech since Donald Trumps commonly used exaggerated
words emphasizing his good quality and discrediting others.
Keywords: Language functions, speech acts, implications, maxims
A. INTRODUCTION
1.

Background of Study
In pragmatic, we have term speech events to describe social activities in

which language play a particular important role (Finegan, 2004, p. 305). One of
the speech events that we are interested in discussing on this paper is the political
speech delivered by one of the Americas presidential candidates in 2016
presidents election, Donald Trump. Political speech becomes a substantial
phenomenon since it involves a selected number of people as a team to prepare
the influential speeches for the candidates. Frequently, political speeches have
become significant in term that they are able to affect people, particularly in
determining their decisions. The change of the nation will be determined by how
the president candidates utilizing their political speeches.
The influential effects of the political speeches compel the president
candidates to prepare their public speeches as well as possible during their
campaigns. Their speeches are the representation of their political views,
ideologies, movements, future policies, and even their deliberately hidden
political agendas. It happens frequently that several candidates have failed to run

for presidents election since their speeches received negative responses. Because
of its power in determining the one who will hold the power, we are interested in
observing the ways it influences the people in the next America presidential
election, 2016.
In June 16, 2015, Donald Trump has announced his participation as one of
the presidents candidates in 2016. Donald Trump is one of the most influential
people in America, a master in gargantuan international business nets, and also an
overly familiar public figure. He is well-known for his business in real estates and
properties, as the main businesses, and the other branches businesses in which
they play an active role in the Americas economy. He is one of the richest, and he
has decided to run for the presidential candidate. This is a great event that should
be noticed by everyone in the world.
Trump launched his campaign declaring the official slogan, "we are going
to make our country great again" with a commitment to become the "greatest jobs
president that God ever created". In his announcement, he promised to focus his
works on reviving the American dreams by improving the economy of America,
returning its glory as the pioneer in economy and business. He also declared to
solve Americas financial problems and its dependency to other countries. He
criticized the old infrastructures of America and compared them to the third world
countries infrastructure. He noted that America was behind other countries like
China, Japan, and Mexico in the businesses and developments. He pointed the
problems of immigration, specifically addressed to the Mexican immigrants
whom he criticized of bringing more problems to America.
Analyzing his political speeches indeed will be very interesting in order to
unravel his campaign strategies and more importantly the content of his
campaigns. The ways he delivered his speech in his first announcement can be
analyzed using the implicatures and the speech acts theories. Following the
Grices theory of the cooperative principles, we are very eager to discover how far
Trump has violated the cooperative principles and for what purposes he did that
kind of violations.

It is commonly understood that in politic, the politicians often violate the


cooperative principles in order to gain publics attentions. It is frequently
discovered in the form of violating the maxim of quantity and quality to
emphasize their achievements and great contributions. It has been done solely for
the sake of creating the great, capable, kind and positive images toward ones self
and discrediting the images of the other politicians. In the case of presidential
candidates, it is also commonly discovered that the candidates often use
commissive and assertive techniques excessively to give promises and assurances
to the public.

2.

Research Questions
There are three research questions discussed in this paper, namely:

a.

What kinds of speech acts are mostly found in Donald Trumps speech in
presidential campaign announcement, June 16, 2015?

b.

What kinds of violation of maxims are found in his speech?

c.

What are his implications in using the violation of maxims and certain kind of
speech acts?

B. LITERATURE REVIEW
In language, we have the term speech acts, actions that are carried out
through language are called speech acts (Finegan, 2004, p. 296). The general
language functions performed by speech acts are particularly categorized into
several types:
1. Representatives
This speech act represents a state of affairs: assertions, statements, claims,
hypotheses, descriptions, suggestions, and can generally be characterized as true
or false (Finegan, 2004, p. 296).
2. Commissives
It commits a speaker to a course of action: promises, pledges, threats,
vows (Finegan, 2004, p. 296).
3. Directives

Directives are intended to get the addressee to carry out an action:


commands, requests, challenges, invitations, entreaties, dares (Finegan, 2004, p.
296).
4. Declarations
Declarations bring about the state of affairs they name: blessings, hirings,
firings, baptisms, marrying, declaring mistrials (Finegan, 2004, p. 296).
5. Expressives
It indicates the speakers psychological state or attitude: greetings,
apologies, congratulations, condolences, thanksgivings (Finegan, 2004, p. 296).
6. Verdictives
This type of speech act makes assessments or judgments: ranking,
assessing, appraising, and condoning (Finegan, 2004, p. 296).
There are some principles which govern the interpretation of utterances.
The principles are diverse, complex, and differ from culture to culture, meaning
that what seems common sense to one group is not necessarily common sense to
all groups (Finegan, 2004, p. 299). However, people could manage to understand
utterances since they normally trust that they and their conversational partners are
honoring the same interpretive conventions, so that there is a convention that
people will cooperate in communicating with each other, and speakers rely on this
cooperation in order to make conversation efficient (Finegan, 2004, pp. 299-300).
Therefore, this is what refers to Grices cooperative principle; that is to make
your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it
occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are
engaged (Grice, 1975, p. 45).
The cooperative principle divides some general principles, which can be
described as maxims, into four categories of communication as follows:
1. Maxim of Quantity
In maxim of quantity, the speakers are expected to give as much
information as is necessary, but to give no more information than is necessary
(Finegan, 2004, p. 300). As stated by Grice (1975, p. 45), the category of quantity

relates to the quantity of information to be provided, and under it, falls the
following maxims:
a.

Make your contribution as informative as required (for the current purposes


of the exchange).

b.

Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

2.

Maxim of Quality
Grice proposes maxim of quality so that the speakers or writers would say

only what they believe to be true and would have evidence for what they say
(Finegan, 2004, p. 302). Akmajian et al (2010, p. 401) states that in maxim of
quality, you are expected to try making contribution one that is true. As stated by
Grice (1975, p. 46), under the category of quality falls a super-maxim, try to
make your contribution one that is true and two more specific maxims:
a.

Do not say what you believe to be false.

b.

Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

3. Maxim of Relevance
The next, which is maxim of relevance, directs speakers to organize the
utterances that they are relevant to the ongoing context (Finegan, 2004, p. 301). In
other words, speakers are expected to give contributions which are connected to
the subject or context of the conversation. Under the category of relation, Grice
places a single maxim, namely, be relevant (Grice, 1957, p. 46).
4. Maxim of Manner
This maxim refers to how speakers or writers avoid ambiguity and
obscurity and be orderly in their utterances (Finegan, 2004, p. 301). In other
words, this maxim is related to how something is being said or the way
information is provided in a conversation. Under the category of manner, which is
related to how what is said is to be said, Grice (1975, p. 46) includes the supermaxim be perspicuous and various maxims such as:
a.

Avoid obscurity of expression.

b.

Avoid unnecessary ambiguity.

c.

Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).

d.

Be orderly.

C. METHODOLOGY
1.

Research Object
The researchers used a speech as the object of the research. The speech

which was used is Donald Trumps speech of the presidential campaign


announcement, June 16, 2015.

2.

Type of Research
Generally, the researchers used content analysis as the research method.

Content or document analysis is defined as a technique that enables writers to


study human behavior in an indirect way, through an analysis of their
communication (Fraenkel & Wallen, 2008, p. 472). This content analysis was
also beneficially employed. As noted by Fraenkel & Wallen (2008), content
analysis is unobtrusive since the presence of the writer does not influence the data
which is analyzed (p. 483).
To be specific, discourse analysis was also used as a method because it is
an appropriate method to solve the research problems addressed in this study.
Discourse analysis is defined as (1) concerned with language use beyond the
boundaries of a sentence/utterance, (2) concerned with the interrelationships
between language and society and (3) as concerned with the interactive or dialogic
properties of everyday communication (Stubbs, 1983, p. 1). In this case, the
discourse is used in the form of a video accompanied by the videos transcription.

3.

Research Method
Firstly, the speechs video and the transcription were downloaded from the

internet. The researchers then watched the video while reading the videos
transcription in order to identify the language functions and implications which
are presented by Donald Trumps speech. The sentences were noted and collected
as the data of the research. Afterwards, the data obtained were analyzed by the
researchers in order to find out the answers of the research questions in this study.

D. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS


The discussion is divided into two parts; the first is about the speech acts
and language functions found in Trumps speech with the explanations of his
intentions in using speech acts, and the second is about the violation of maxims
and Trumps aims of violating certain kinds of maxims. Thus, for the first step
leading into the discussion, we would like to answer the research question 1 and 2
by presenting the results of our analysis in the following tables:
Table 1: The Language Functions Occurring in Donald Trumps speech.
No. Language Functions

Number

Percentages

1.

Representatives

50

52,63%

2.

Directives

3,16%

3.

Commissives

17

17,90%

4.

Expressives

24

25,26%

5.

Declaratives

0%

6.

Verdictives

1,05%

95

100%

Total

Table 2: The Percentages of the Violation of the Maxims


No. Types of Maxim

Number

Percentages

1.

Quantity

45

37,19%

2.

Quality

32

26,45%

3.

Manner

19

15,70%

4.

Relevance

25

20,66%

121

100%

Total

1.

The Discussions on Language Functions


As it has been stated before, speech acts or any actions resulting

throughout language could appear anytime, even in a campaign speech. In Donald


Trumps speech, the result of representatives is the highest, 52,63%, with 50

utterances. Most of them show how boastful Trump was and how he loved to
blame on everything. As it can be seen in the following utterance, ...And
remember the $5 billion website? $5 billion we spent on a website, and to this day
it doesnt work. A $5 billion website. I have so many websites, I have them all
over the place. I hire people, they do a website. It costs me $3. $5 billion
website... From this sentence, Trump showed one of many unsuccessful Obama
programmes that Trump complained. He compared it to his websites which spent
less money but could run well, because he thought he had a better management.
Trump also dared provocatively to persuade the audience with the
percentage of another Obamas program which turned to fail, We have a
disaster called the big lie: Obamacare. Obamacare. Yesterday, it came out that
costs are going for people up 29, 39, 49, and even 55 percent, and deductibles are
through the roof. ... The way he convinced the audiences with the percentages
that came out from unclear source was questionable. Surely, he was trying to
make the audience believed what he stated.
By claiming toward something is also part of representatives. Trump for
many times mentioned how great he was in doing anything and the utterance
below is one of them, ...Im a private company, so nobody knows what Im
worth. And the one thing is that when you run, you have to announce and certify
to all sorts of governmental authorities your net worth. So I said, Thats OK.
Im proud of my net worth. Ive done an amazing job.... Telling Ive done an
amazing job to the audiences was his way to gain the attention and the most
important thing was gaining the votes.
Trump has used a lot of expressives in his presidential campaign
announcement speech. Mostly, he greeted and thanked people for their supports in
coming to his campaign: So nice, thank you very much. Thats really nice. Thank
youAnd its an honor to have everybody here., he praised his family for
doing a great job: by the way, speaking of my family, Melania, Barron, Kai,
Donnie, Don, Vanessa, Tiffany, Evanka did a great job., and he also blamed
his political opponents, like Obama and Clinton for the degeneration of America
in many aspects: Today I heard it. Through stupidity, in a very, very hard core

prison, interestingly named Clinton, two vicious murderers, two vicious people
escaped, and nobody knows where they are.
He purposely used expressions like greeting and thanking to appreciate
people for coming and to show that he appreciated their supports and efforts for
him. Praising was also his way to appreciate people who wholly support him and
blaming was used to emphasize his political opponents mistakes and weaknesses
and on the contrary, to emphasize his greatness and strengths, so that people will
think again to support his political opponents and support him instead.
Trump also used commisives mostly to make promise of prosperity and
greatness to the people of America. He promised to bring back the prosperity to
America by referring to American dream: Sadly, the American dream is dead.
But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger
than ever before, and we will make America great again. He promised to be the
greatest jobs president that God ever created by his statement: Ill bring back
our jobs from China, from Japan, from so many places. Ill bring back our jobs,
and Ill bring back our money.
Election promises are often used in political campaigns, aiming to
persuade people to vote for the candidates. We can have information about the
detail of their campaign programs and their ways to give contributions to the
country by observing their election promises. Observing meticulously their
election promises will give us the picture of the candidates qualities. Trumps
promises give impression that he can make possible all the things that he has
promised. He has promised of several big things that seem impossible to achieve.
In our opinion, he is too confident in his ability of achieving everything with a
great success.
Trump also used some directives in his speech. An example of directives
would be: Reduce our $18 trillion in debt, because, believe me, were in a
bubble. We have artificially low interest rates. We have a stock market that,
frankly, has been good to me, but I still hate to see whats happening. We have a
stock market that is so bloated. In this statement, Trump attempted to persuade
people to reduce the countrys debt due to certain reasons such as low interest

rates and the bloated stock market. This is a directives since Trump attempts to
make or invite the audience or the American people to perform an action, which is
to reduce the countrys debt.
The verdictives percentage is only 1,02%, which is the least number of
language function occurring in Donald Trumps speech. In verdicitives, as the
name suggests (to verdict), the speaker has a value judgment on something, for
example when Trump said You look at these airports, we are like a third world
country. And I come in from China and I come in from Qatar and I come in from
different places, and they have the most incredible airports in the world. You
come to back to this country and you have LAX, disaster. You have all of these
disastrous airports. Therefore, this utterance is verdictive because Donald Trump
criticized the airports.
Meanwhile, there is no declaratives in the speech since declaratives tend to
change the external status of an object or a situation and performed by an
institutional role in a specific context (marriage, war, etc.).

2.

The Discussions on Violation of Maxims


In using maxim of quantity, we have to be brief and clear in delivering our

speech. However, Trump often talked too much and repeated his words to
emphasize his ideas and his greatnesses Brooklyn, I ventured into Manhattan and
did a lot of great dealsthe Grand Hyatt Hotel. I was responsible for the
convention center on the west side. I did a lot of great deals, and I did them early
and young. And now Im building all over the world, and I love what Im doing
and he also often gave to much information than necessary about his political
opponents and turned off to discredit his political opponents:
I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And we wont be using
a man like Secretary Kerry that has absolutely no concept of
negotiation, whos making a horrible and laughable deal, whos just
being tapped along as they make weapons right now, and then goes
into a bicycle race at 72 years old, and falls and breaks his leg.

He purposely violated the maxim of quantity for the reason of creating the
good image of himself by repeating words that described his greatnesses and good

achievements and for creating bad images of his political opponents by


discrediting them.
Another maxim proposed by Grice is the maxim of quality. In Trumps
speech, there were a lot of violations of this maxim such as when he said: When
Mexico sends its people, theyre not sending their best. Theyre not sending
you. Theyre not sending you. Theyre sending people that have lots of
problems, and theyre bringing those problems with us. Theyre bringing drugs.
Theyre bringing crime. Theyre rapists. And some, I assume, are good people....
The audience should had been wondering or thinking twice whether what Trump
said was legit. He could have mentioned the beneficial sources or percentages of
it. There is no limitiation to tell it was a lie because it had no evidences.
Another violation of the maxim of quality is shown when Trump stated
that he was not a believer but ended up taking evidence from economist, in the
utterance below.
...According to the economists who Im not big believers in, but,
nevertheless, is what theyre saying that $24 trillion were very
close thats the point of no return. $24 trillion. We will be there soon.
Thats when we become Greece. Thats when we become a country
thats unsalvageable. And were gonna be there very soon. Were gonna
be there very soon....

It is almost impossible to imagine how America, a super power country,


could have the same destiny as Greece recently. Besides, he did not mention
which economists he referred to. Everyone could claim himself as an economist,
and not to mention how big 24 trillion was, peculiarly the Americans were not
aware of losing it.
The maxim of relevance also belongs to maxim which was violated quite
often, 20,66 % with 25 utterances. The violation of this maxim is usually
characterized by the sense of context which differs radically. In Trumps speech,
he mentioned some issues that happened to be irrelevant with what he intended to
say previously. Some examples of it can be seen as follows:
So nice, thank you very much. Thats really nice. Thank you. Its great
to be at Trump Tower. Its great to be in a wonderful city, New York.
And its an honor to have everybody here. This is beyond anybodys
expectations. Theres been no crowd like this. And, I can tell, some of

the candidates, they went in. They didnt know the air-conditioner
didnt work. They sweated like dogs. They didnt know the room
was too big, because they didnt have anybody there. How are they
going to beat ISIS? I dont think its gonna happen.

The relation between the opening speech and how he moved to ISIS all of a
sudden was irrelevant. There was no sequences from greeting people, to airconditioner problem, to the ability of beating ISIS.
Another example of how irrelevant his speech can be seen in the following
sentence:
...So I announced that Im running for president. I would one of
the early things I would do, probably before I even got in and I
wouldnt even use you know, I have I know the smartest
negotiators in the world. I know the good ones. I know the bad ones. I
know the overrated ones...

Trump was supposed to address what he would do if he was chosen to be


president, but in the utterance above he was talking about his knowledge of
smartest negotiators instead.
The last maxim found in Trumps speech was the maxim of manner.
Generally, this maxim requires speakers to avoid obscurity of expression and
ambiguity and also demands the speaker to be brief and orderly. Thus, it was
exemplified in Trumps utterance: So, heres a couple of stories happened
recently. A friend of mine is a great manufacturer. And, you know, China comes
over and they dump all their stuff, and I buy it. I buy it, because, frankly, I have
an obligation to buy it, because they devalue their currency so brilliantly, they just
did it recently, and nobody thought they could do it again. It disobeys the maxim
of manner because the order of the story is not good. Firstly, he stated about his
friend, who is a manufacturer, but then he talked about the business or products of
China. In terms of the maxim of manner, Trump should state the story of his
friend first and then tell the story of China. However, he did not describe his
friend, instead jumped to the elaboration of buying China products.

E. CONCLUSIONS
The first research question is related to what kinds of language functions
are mostly found in Trumps speech. From our research, we find that
representatives/assertives is the most type of speech acts occurring in Trumps
speech, with 52,63% percentage in total utterances, followed by expressives with
25,26%, directives with 17,90%, and verdictives with 1,05%. There is no
declaratives occurring in the utterances. The second question, referring to the
violation of maxims, we find Trumps speech violate four types of maxims. The
most maxim violated is the maxim of quantity with 37,19%, followed by maxim
of quality with 26,45%, and then maxim of relevance with 20,66%, and finally
maxim of manner with 15,70%.
In term of the last research question, we find the implications in Trumps
speech in using the violation of maxims and speech acts. We could infer that
Trump mostly emphasizes his strengths, achievements, and greatness by repeating
certain words frequently which disobeys maxim of quantity. On the other hand,
Trump often told lies by not including certain sources or evident in his speech,
which violates maxim of quality. Trump also uses certain kind of speech acts,
such as commissive, which is shown by telling promises in order to gain publics
attention to give votes for him.

F. REFERENCES
Akmajian, A. et al. (2010). Linguistics: An introduction to language and
communication (6th ed.). Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Finegan, D. 2004. Language: Its structure and use. Boston: Wadsworth.
Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (2008). How to design and evaluate research in
education (7th ed.). Boston: McGrawHill Higher Education.
Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole, & J. L. Morgan (Eds.),
Syntax and semantics: Speech acts (vol. 3). New York: Academic Press.
Ma, M. (2014). Effectual linkages between campaign promises and electoral
accountability. Retrieved November 6th, from http://www.researchgate
.net/publication/272088049_Effectual_Linkages_Between_Campaign_Pr
omises_and_Electoral_Accountability
Stubbs, M. (1983). Discourse Analysis: The sociolinguistic analysis of natural
language. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

G. ATTACHMENT
Table of Speech Acts and Violation of Maxims Analysis