Doublespeak: The Empowerment of the Self and the Dis-Empowerment of the Other

Taher Ben Khalifa


Regarding the ability doublespeak offers to its users to distort and mislead, the question about how power is (re)produce, distributed, and enacted becomes of great concern. Within this context, the present paper seeks to study how the use of doublespeak serves for the empowerment of the self and the dis-empowerment of the other. The study of this topic consists in the analysis of some examples that are taken from political speeches delivered by the US presidents; Bush, Obama, and Trump. To analyze these examples, a combination of three theories—theories of discourse analysis, theories of power, and theories of politics—is used. The application of this theoretical combination is based on the use of a simple method of research. This method follows three successive steps. First, the traces of doublespeak are detected and classified. Second, interest is given to the study of how each of the traced uses of doublespeak serves for empowerment. Third, interest shifts to the interpretation of the obtained results to highlight the political ends standing behind any struggle for power. The paper ended by offering a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of empowerment in the political uses of doublespeak as well as a simple method of research. Also, it proved that the use of doublespeak represents a strategy of empowerment that the speakers resorted to while seeking to get more power to dominate and to achieve personal goals. The paper might show as well some limitations like the uses of examples from other political contexts. However, this did not affect the quality of the research nor the results that are sought to be reached, instead, it represents a good start for future researches to look into other contexts.

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