The social meaning of stylistic variability: Sociophonetic (in)variance in United States presidential candidates' campaign rallies

Annette D'Onofrio, Amelia Stecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While speakers have been shown to deploy linguistic styles to project socially meaningful personae, less well-understood are the ways that variability or consistency of stylistic practice across and within speech events can itself accumulate to construct a public image. This study examines the use of (ING) and word-final/t/-release across multiple campaign rallies of three US presidential candidates, speakers in heightened contexts of persona construction. Differences emerged in the degree and nature of variability candidates exhibited in the use of these features across rally locales and utterance-level topic differences. We argue that the degree of linguistic variability a candidate exhibits across events itself serves as a socially meaningful linguistic resource, contributing to a constructed public image of flexibility or consistency in relation to a speaker's audience and public platform. We conclude that the amount of linguistic variability a speaker exhibits across contexts is itself a dimension of stylistic practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLanguage in Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • politicians
  • sociophonetics
  • Style
  • variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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