Emotional Languages in Donald Trump’s Campaign Speeches: A Systemic Functional Linguistics Approach

Erick Firmansyah, Slamet Setiawan, Suharsono Suharsono


Abstract: The victory of Donald Trump in 2016 US Presidential Election marks the rise of Post-truth era at which objective truth is less important than the emotional truth. The present study investigates his use of emotional languages during his campaign. The investigated emotions are fear, warmth, and humour. The data on emotions which derives from the transcripted campaign speeches of Donald Trump are detected using prototype scenario theory developed by Wierzbicka (1992). They are, then, analyzed using Halliday and Matthiessen’s Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) (2004). The findings show the speaker has four (4) ideational patterns in expressing his emotions. Those are material, relational, mental, and conditional relation. The emotions are communicated mostly in declarative sentences with dominant use of modality will as median value of obligation. His communication style reveals dominant use of repetition varying from lexical item to clausal level. The messages of the emotions contain the problem and its solution. The problem is represented by the exploitation of common noun Hillary Clinton while the solution is represented by the use of pronoun we as the unmarked topical theme. Furthermore, the study modifies Halliday and Matthiessen’s SFL theory of emotion.

Abstrak: Kemenangan Donald Trump pada Pemilu Presiden Amerika Serikat Tahun 2016 menandai bangkitnya era paska kebenaran dimana kebenaran obyektif dikalahkan oleh kebenaran emosional. Kajian ini meneliti penggunaan Bahasa – Bahasa emosi saat ia berkampanye. Emosi yang diinvestigasi adalah ketakutan, kehangatan, dan humor. Data kajian yang diperoleh dari transkip pidato Donald Trump saat berkampanye dideteksi menggunakan teori skenario prototipe yang dikembangkan Wierzbicka (1992). Data tersebut dianalisis menggunakan teori Linguistik Sistemik Fungsional milik Halliday dan Matthiessen (2004). Hasilnya, penutur memiliki 4 pola ide dalam mengekspresikan emosi antara lain pola materi, pola hubungan, pola mental, dan pola hubungan pengandaian. Emosi tersebut disampaikan umumnya menggunakan kalimat deklaratif dengan dominasi penggunaan will sebagai nilai tengah kewajiban. Gaya komunikasinya menunjukkan seringnya pengulangan yang bervariasi dari kata hingga kalimat. Pesan – pesan dari emosi yang disampaikan berisi masalah dan solusinya. Masalah diwakili banyaknya penggunaan kata benda umum Hillary Clinton sedangkan solusi diwakili penggunaan kata ganti benda we sebagai topik tema yang tidak ditandai. Lebih lanjut, kajian ini memodifikasi teori emosi yang dikembangkan oleh SFL milik Halliday dan Matthiessen.


Emotional Languages; Systemic Functional Linguistics; Ideational Metafunction; Interpersonal Metafunction; Textual Metafunction

Full Text:



Bloor, T., & Bloor, M. (2004). The Functional Analysis of English: A Hallidayan Approach (Second Edition ed.). London: Arnold Publication.

Butt, D., Fahey, R., Feez, S., Spinks, S., & Yallop, C. (2000). Using Functional Grammar: An Explorer's Guide. Sydney: National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research Macquarie University.

Cherkaoui, M. (2016). Donald Trump: The Rise of Right-wing Politics in America: Al Jazeera Centre for Studies.

Eggins, S. (2004). An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics (2nd ed.). London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Feng, H., & Liu, Y. (2010). An Analysis of Interpersonal Meaning in Public Speeches - A Case Study of Obama's Speech. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 1(6), 825-829.

Flores-Ferrán, N. (2017). “I'm very Good at and maybe that's Why I'm Center Stage…”: Pronominal Deixis and Trump. English Linguistics Research, 6(1), 74.

Fontaine, L. (2013). Analysing English Grammar: A Systemic Functional Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Fundell, T. (2008). Ideational Function and Lexical Repetition in Three American Presidential Speeches. Högskölan Skovde, Sweden.

Gross, M. (2017). The dangers of a post-truth world: Elsevier.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. (2004). An Introduction to Functional Grammar (Third Edition ed.). New York: Oxford University Press Inc.

Johnstone, B. (1996). The Linguistic Individual: Self-Expression in Language and Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Koussouhon, L. A., & Dossoumou, A. M. (2015). Analyzing Interpersonal Metafunction through Mood and Modality in Kaine Agary’s Yellow-Yellow from Critical Discourse and Womanist Perspective. International Journal of English Linguistics, 5(6), 20.

Leth, A. N., Grønnebæk, L. L., Egholm, M., Jordahn, S., & Dyrbye, Z. R. (2016). Making America Great Again? HIB-Communication(Spring 2016).

Levinger, M. (2017). Love, Fear, Anger: The Emotional Arc of Populist Rhetoric. Narrative and Conflict: Explorations of Theory and Practice, 6(1), 1-21.

Lewandowsky, S., Ecker, U. K., & Cook, J. (2017). Beyond misinformation: Understanding and coping with the “post-truth” era. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 6(4), 353-369.

Liu, C. (2016). Reviewing the Rhetoric of Donald Trump's Twitter of the 2016 Presidential Election. Jonkoping University, Sweden.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. R. (2005). The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Matthiessen, C. M., & Halliday, M. A. K. (2009). Systemic functional grammar: a first step into the theory: Higher Education Press Beijing.

McClay, R. (2017). Us and Them: A Descriptive Analysis of Donald Trump's Campaign Speeches. Master, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

McComiskey, B. (2017). Post-Truth Rhetoric and Composition. Colorado: Utah State University Press.

Mohammadi, M. (2017). A Critical Discourse Analysis of Donald Trump's Language Use in US Presidential Campaign, 2016. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 6(5).

Morreall, J. (1983). Humor and Emotion. American Philosophical Quarterly, 20(3), 297-304.

Nur, S. (2015). An Analysis of Interpersonal Metafunction in Public Speeches: A Case Study of Nelson Mandela's Presidential Inauguration Speech. The International Journal of Social Sciences, 30(1), 52-63.

Rahman, A., & Yunianti, S. (2017). Critical Discourse Analysis in Donald Trump Presidential Campaign to Win American's Heart. TELL Journal, 5(2), 8-17.

Rohmah, S. N. (2018). Critical Discourse Analysis of Donald Trump's Speeches. Bachelor, Sunan Ampel State Islamic University, Surabaya.

Rose, J. (2017). Brexit, trump, and post-truth politics: Taylor & Francis.

Schrock, D., Dowd-Arrow, B., Erichsen, K., Gentile, H., & Dignam, P. (2017). The emotional politics of making America great again: Trump’s working class appeals. Journal of Working-Class Studies, 2(1), 5-22.

Sclafani, J. (2018). Talking Donald Trump A Sociolinguistic Study of Style, Metadiscourse, and Pollitical Identity. New York: Routledge.

Speed, E., & Mannion, R. (2017). The rise of post-truth populism in pluralist liberal democracies: challenges for health policy. International journal of health policy and management, 6(5), 249.

Ströbel, L. (Ed.). (2015). Linguistics Realization of the Concept of Fear. Düsseldorf: dup.

Widyawardani, Y. I. (2016). Rhetorical Analysis of Donald Trump's Presidential Candidacy Announcement Speech. Undergraduate Program, Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta.

Wierzbicka, A. (1990). The Semantics of Emotions: Fear and its relatives in English. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 10(2), 359-375.

Wierzbicka, A. (1992). Defining Emotion Concepts. Cognitive Science, 16, 539-581.

Wierzbicka, A. (1999). Emotions Across Languages and Cultures: Diversity and Universals. Paris: Cambridge University Press.

Ye, R. (2010). The Interpersonal Metafunction Analysis of Barrack Obama's Victory Speech. English Language Teaching, 3(2), 146-151.


  • There are currently no refbacks.