The analysis of the political discourse seems to be a hot topic for many linguists interested in the rhetoric studies. A lot has been done in this area; however there was no investigation of attributes and attributive clusters in the speeches of    presidents of the USA.

Attributes may play in important role in the manner in which conservatives have framed the discussion, the problem of attributive clusters can receive progressive response so far, and ideas for more effective progressive framing of the debate.

Attributive clusters frame the public discussion and receive the status of repeated frames so often and for so long that they have become ingrained in the public’s mind, which means that those frames have become realized physically in the brains of many members of the public.

Such clusters as “tort reform”, “tax relief”,” lawsuit abuse”, “frivolous lawsuits”, “greedy lawyers”, “litigation lottery” and etc. evoke a frame. They communicate that something is the matter with the tort system, which requires reform or correction. In this respect, the phrase is similar to an effective political ploy to rule the public. Once the public accepts these phrases, they have bought into the idea that they need to be relieved from the affliction of “bad things” and that they need to fix the tort system. The debate then turns to the question of how and how much. At that point, progressives can’t win the debate.

Thus, the analysis of attributive clusters can be an interesting subject to segment the linguistic programming so much admired in Politics and political discourse.


My article is based on the analysis of 30 speeches by president of the USA George Bush  given during 2003-2007 on various occasions.

Political speech as a genre has many specific features both extralinguistic and linguistic.
First of all, president’s speeches are the production of speechwriters. In the USA speechwriting represents a unification of art and  political science. Political speech has several stages of preparation. Initial stage is the search of subject, arguments and proofs, in other words, preparation of the bulk of the speech.

Then, the speechwriter is to work with the information about the target audience, to collect data and include the necessary wording that would appeal the listeners.
The second stage of writing the speech is connected with the structuring when the arguments should be followed in the form of suspense to produce the effect of persuasion.

The third stage is language embodiment as it should be understood, listened to and memorized.

The fourth stage is performance of the speech as the speechwriters are to be working with a particular person.

Thus, a political speech should be regarded as a specific type of political discourse with multi faceted representation - the speechwriter prepares the text and the political figure adds personal communicative features and strategic representation.

The analysis presented today is based on the investigation of adjectives in the function of attributes in speeches, their role and function. This focus on attributes is based, first of all on statistics data: I observed that there are about 20% of attributes in speech argument, subject and proofs. So why are attributes so important for political discourse in the speeches of President George Bush?  

Adjectives functioning as attributes are very complicated from semantic point of view. Adjective in context can express either a definite meaning or can be vague and form only a conceptual frame of evaluative character. Thus, attributes in political discourse seem to be one of the main tools for propaganda and persuasion.

Political discourse is always a script and the political speech is twice as much a script with usage of framing.

Every word is defined with respect to what cognitive scientists call a frame. A frame is a conceptual structure of a certain form.
American politics puts pressure on words like “liberal”, “conservative”, “compassionate”, “safe” and others as they are used more as weapons than as tools of communication.

Political language doesn’t just express beliefs. It mobilizes and inspires. This happens with the help of framing where attributes (adjectives) are of significant relevance because, as a rule, humans understand abstract and complex ideas in terms of more accessible and concrete concepts.

In American culture and in the American political discourse there are two opposed and idealized models of the family: the Nurturant Parent Model and the Strict Father Model.
The metaphor of the Nation as a Family maps the values and relationships from those family models onto politics. President George Bush and the speechwriters effectively use these frames in the speeches.

Let’s see this simple framing on the example of speech given January 30, 2007 where President Bush Discusses Economy.

We find such attributive clusters as: warm welcome, common good, good folks, good sign, cool experience, strong economy, fundamental question, fine company, great companies, global economy, good policy, great workers, tough economic period, terrorist attack, a more satisfied worker, competitive company, important priority and others of the same kind.

The speech was given at Caterpillar Inc, Illinois. In this speech George Bush is framing the image of nurturant parent who is proud of the company progress. Adjectives are evoking evaluative positive frames with broad referential base. Using these adjectives alongside with other ploys of political discourse he frames the advantage, responsibility and progressive economic movement.

Attributes play the role of magnifying lenses that make the noun more significant and memorable. Framing of positive changes in American economy is achieved. All that stands behind have been covered.

Another speech where President Bush Rejects Artificial Deadline, Vetoes Iraq War Supplemental ,  given in May  2007.

This speech presupposes the role of a Strict Father Family. The evidence is on the surface in attributive clusters: emergency war spending bill, brave men and women, bipartisan meeting, rigid and artificial deadline, impossible conditions, fighting directions, political statement, new strategy, new commander, free nation, unanimous vote, coalition forces, sectarian murders, innocent life in Iraq, vital funds.
Attributes show another evaluative tonality and connotations. They seem to be less evaluative, more precise in meaning and do not have broad referential base. George Bush ( speechwriters) frame the necessity of a war funding bill.

Adjectives functioning as attributes in political speeches of President George Bush are mostly important in the following strategies of persuasion:

-close address


-focusing on adherent qualities    

Adjectives as a lexical layer tend to receive evaluative meaning. When they function within political discourse, adjectives (attributes), besides their nominative meaning acquire the evaluative function. Evaluative characteristics tend to be very complex.

There are three ways to change the evaluative charge:

1/ neutral adjective turns into evaluative;

2/ evaluative adjective loses the evaluative meaning;

3/ evaluative adjective changes the meaning of evaluation, it can acquire occasional meaning.

Thus, in this article the classification of meaning of adjectives is based on the differentiation between proper evaluative and descriptive adjectives. The context of political speech influences on this process. As it was mentioned before, speechwriters are smart to play on the semantic components within the semantic structure of the adjective and further attribute.

We support the point of view of Russian linguist E.Volf (2002) who says that evaluative modality is being framed within text. Thus we have analyzed by means of content-analysis the ratio of evaluative and descriptive adjectives-attributes, as well as partially evaluative adjectives-attributes in the texts of speeches.

Here we present figures that show  adjectives that are mostly used in the investigated discourse:

Good 0,62
Free  0,49
great 0,44
Clear 0,42
Important 0,39
Right 0,35
National 0,29
Safe 0,28
Better 0,27
Strong 0,26
Democratic 0,16
Young 0,14
Peaceful 0,12
Innocent 0,11
Global 0,10
Radical 0,09
Hopeful, encouraging, key, vital, brave 0,08
Dangerous, true 0,07 urgent, positive 0,06
Acceptable, effective 0,05
Stable, confident, fundamental, brutal, wrong, violent, aggressive 0,04
Liberated, honest 0,035
Accountable, outlaw, unified 0,031
Essential, bad 0,02
Crucial, optimistic, vicious 0,02
Sustained, steady, failing 0,017
Dynamic, faithful, frivolous 0,013
Loud, murderous, inspiring, 0,008
discouraging, outrageous, controversial, provocative, stunning 0,004

As we may observe the most frequent is the adjective NEW, The New Heritage Dictionary of the American Language says:

1 : having recently come into existence

2 a (1) : having been seen, used, or known for a short time b : being other than the former or old <a steady flow of new money>

3 : having been in a relationship or condition but a short time <new to the job> <a new wife>

4 a : beginning as the resumption or repetition of a previous act or thing <a new day> <the new edition> b : made or become fresh <awoke a new person> c : relating to or being a new moon

5 : different from one of the same category that has existed previously <new realism>

6 : of dissimilar origin and usually of superior quality <a new strain of hybrid corn>

7 having been in use after medieval times
Having analyzed the semantic structure of every meaning, we may deduct the general concept expressed by this adjective- progressive, different from others and consequently implying successful.

New is used in speeches devoted to the foreign policy of the USA. In particular, in speeches devoted to strategy and tactics in the problem of Iraq, funding war in Iraq, debates between Republicans and Democrats.

Adjective New is used for framing public opinion and it plays an important role to raise ideas and feelings of American people.

Please observe the following examples:
The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

Now, the House is debating a resolution that disapproves of our new strategy. This may become the first time in the history of the United States Congress that it has voted to send a new commander into battle and then voted to oppose his plan that is necessary to succeed in that battle.

In the first example the key words are new strategy and succeed. If previous methods did not help to achieve the result, then the framing of new strategy ( possessing positive connotations) together with the noun strategy forms the frame of positive solution to the problem/

In the second example President George Bush criticizes Congressmen for the absence of support to the new strategy and consequently blocking success of Americans in the war. George Bush speaks about democrats who had opposed the war in Iraq since the beginning.

By using the frame of avoiding difficulties President manages not only enlighten his point of view but criticize democrats and   show them as  non patriots.
Next examples show this frame as more powerful because there is a strategy of contrast in them:

This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad….An era of new threats requires new forms of engagement, new strategies, and new tactics….As a result, we must look at security in a new way, because our country is a battlefield in the first war of the 21st century.

In scheme the interpretation would look as following:



One more frequently used adjectives – free, this is the key framing for American society , and the most interesting point for this attribute is that is used in the speech strategy of contrast

Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies -- and most will choose a better way when they're given a chance.

The terrorists are defined by their hatreds: they hate democracy and tolerance and free expression and women and Jews and Christians and all Muslims who disagree with them.
For the vast majority of Iraqi citizens who wish to live as free men and women, this event brings further assurance that the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever.

Being a democratic nation is framed as privilege:

In the coming weeks, the ballots will be counted, a new government formed, and a people who suffered in tyranny for so long will become full members of the free world.
And finalizing the exposition of examples I would like to show how the adjective can change the evaluative charge being used in framing.

And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share.

America, our coalition, and Iraqi leaders are working toward the same goal -- a democratic Iraq that can defend itself, that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists, and that will serve as a model of freedom for the Middle East.
America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan -- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.

The mandated withdrawal in this bill could embolden our enemies -- and confirm their belief that America will not stand behind its commitments. It could lead to a safe haven in Iraq for terrorism that could be used to attack America and freedom-loving people around the world, and is likely to unleash chaos in Iraq that could spread across the region.

In Afghanistan, we saw how terrorists and extremists can use those safe havens in a failed state, to bring death and destruction to our people here at home.
We didn't drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.


In conclusion , I would like to say that adjectives in political speeches play the role of framing concept and can be used in different strategies of speechwriting.