Рубрика конференции: Секция 17. Филологические науки. Специальность 10.00.00
DOI статьи: 10.32743/UsaConf.2022.8.35.344249
Библиографическое описание
Пешкова Н.В. THE STRATEGY OF POSITIVE PRESENTATION OF VACCINATION AGAINST COVID-19 IN AMERICAN POLITICAL DISCOURSE (ON THE MATERIAL OF JOE BIDEN'S SPEECHES)// Proceedings of the XXXV International Multidisciplinary Conference «Recent Scientific Investigation». Primedia E-launch LLC. Shawnee, USA. 2022. DOI:10.32743/UsaConf.2022.8.35.344249


Nataliya Peshkova

Candidate of Philological Sciences, Senior Lecturer, G.V. Plekhanov Russian University of Economics,

Russia, Moscow


For several years now, the world has been facing a global problem - COVID-19. Political leaders in all leading countries are taking various measures to protect their population, ranging from wearing masks and social distancing to self-isolation. But the most important task is to convey the need of vaccination to people. We have reviewed US President John Biden's speeches of 2021-2022 devoted to the need of vaccination among the population. We have also analyzed them in terms of the use of communication strategies and persuasion tactics.

The theory of speech influence is the science of effective communication, the origins of which should be sought in ancient times. Rhetoric, the science of effective public speaking, the ability to argue and win in it, received the highest prosperity in ancient Greece and Rome.

Modern linguistics is actively engaged in the study of the phenomenon of speech influence. The general object of research, designated by the theory of speech influence, is as follows - "the processes of regulating the activities of a person or a group of people with the help of speech, as well as a general pragmatic setting for optimizing speech influence" [5, p. 22].

Speech influence is studied in various areas of linguistics. In cognitive linguistics, it is studied by such scientists as A. N. Baranov, Yu. K. Pirogova; in communicative linguistics - O. S. Issers, E. V. Klyuev, O. A. Plotnikova, I. A. Sternin; in psychology and psycholinguistics - E. L. Dotsenko, S.G. Kara-Murza, L. I. Ryumshina , K. F. Sedov and others.

In political communication, such a type of speech influence as persuasion, associated with the theory of argumentation, plays a huge role. The purpose of this speech impact is to develop a system of ways to influence the mind of the interlocutor: "Using relevant strategies and tactics allows to create a personal, commercial, socio-political, cultural and historical image" [3, p. 126]. The basis of the method of persuasion is selection, the logical ordering of facts and conclusions according to a single functional task, logical proof. I.A. Sternin notes that persuasion appeals not only with logic, but also uses emotional pressure. To convince means “to inspire confidence in the interlocutor that the truth has been proven, the thesis has been established” [7, p. 49]. Since persuasive speech is based on the theory of argumentation, it excludes the possibility of misleading the listener about the goals and intentions of the speaker. The main characteristics of a rhetor should include honesty, modesty, forethought [2, p. 73].

Strategy of the positive presentation of information refers to strategies of a cooperative type, which is aimed to cooperation with a partner [4, p. 53]. The purpose of this strategy will be a positive representation of a phenomenon or event, increasing the positive image of a person, justifying the need to take any action. The problem of vaccination is not always unequivocally accepted by society. Therefore, it was very important to justify the need for this procedure. We have identified the following communication tactics that helped to most fully implement the strategy of positive representation of vaccination in the United States.

 1. The "reference to authority" tactic implies using convincing arguments, referring to the opinion of professionals in this field: "The communicator must seem sympathetic, authoritative or trustworthy, or possessing any other quality that facilitates persuasion" [1, p. 48]. As a rule, the speaker resorts to the use of a reference to an authoritative person or organization or a quotation.

In an attempt to persuade people to vaccinate, the authoritative source will be a medical professional (in this case, Dr. E. Fauci, who was the White House’s top adviser on pandemic issues) or world-famous pharmaceutical companies developing a Covid vaccine (Pfizer, and Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson and others): ""Dr. Fauci is with me today of our medical team, and I believe that the vaccines will continue to provide a degree of protection against severe disease" [9], "my team is already working with officials at Pfizer, and Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson to develop contingency plans ..." [9], After months of rigorous and independent scientific review, the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, authorized, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, recommended a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five [10].

 It is important for J. Biden to emphasize the authority of his own opinion so that people can trust him and, accordingly, get vaccinated. Therefore, he repeatedly emphasizes that he always practices what he preaches. Thus, listeners conclude that if he says that vaccination is safe, then they should trust him: " and I’ll give it to you straight as I promised you I always would"[8], " When I was elected, I said I would always be honest with you" [9]. Next extract underlines the creditability of the vaccine by the fact that American president did it himself and he was going to go the next shot: "Anyway, like I did in my first and second COVID-19 vaccination shot, about to get my booster shot and do it publicly" [12].

The fact that America is able to vaccinate not only the residents of its own country, but also the whole other world. Thus this argument can serve as an authoritative source. If other countries trust American medicine so much that they are ready to buy its vaccination, then Americans should trust as well: "To beat the pandemic, we have to vaccinate the world as well, and America’s leading that effort" [9], "We’ve shipped for free more vaccines to other countries than all other countries in the world combined, over 275 million vaccines to 110 countries"[9] .

Thus, within the framework of this tactic, three devices are used: 1) mentioning reputable doctors or pharmaceutical companies; 2) the president himself acts as an authoritative person; 3) the American vaccine is the best in the world, all countries want to buy it.

2. Tactics "appeal to logic" involves using the quantitative indicators without reference to the exact source. S.G. Kara-Murza believes that “numbers are a sign system that has an irresistible impact on both consciousness and imagination. The magic of the number is that it… has the authority of accuracy and impartiality” [6, p. 244]: " We also back then included an additional $10 billion for testing for schools.", Americans, we’ve given out over 70 million booster shots. Booster shots are free, they’re safe, and available at over 90,000 vaccination sites. Let me say that again. They’re free, available, and at over 90,000 sites" [8], "28 million more young Americans are now eligible for the protection of a vaccine; and my administration is ready" [10].

3. The tactic of "caution" is aimed to focus on the consequences that may arise if people neglect vaccination. The implementation of this tactic occurs using the following means:

1. Ellipsis - the intentional omission of a word: "Get vaccinated. Get boosted"[8], "Be concerned about Omicron, but don't be alarmed"[8], "Do not wait. Go get your booster if it's time for you to do so" [9]. In these examples, the subject is omitted, that is, the emphasis is put on the action. These constructions help encourage the listener to act.

2. Conditional sentences help to focus on the positive aspects of vaccination or, conversely, the negative consequences of refusal: "But if you're vaccinated and boosted, you are highly protected." [8], "There are people who are dying and who will die who didn’t have to. So please, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, do it now, do it now. It’d save your life and it could save the lives of those you love" [13], "If they authorize the boosters, which would be strictly made based on the science, that decision will be based on the science, this'll mean all three vaccines will be available for boosters" [11].

3. In all analyzed speeches devoted to vaccination against COVID-19, we have noticed the excessive use of such stylistic device as lexical repetition, that is, the frequent use of certain words. The most frequently used words are vaccine and booster and their derivatives. For example, in his January 4, 2022 address, Joe Biden used the word "get vaccinated" and its derivatives 25 times. The word "booster" - 17 times. The speech lasted 11 minutes. In a speech dated 11/29/2021, the word "vaccine" was repeated 20 times, and "booster" - 17. The duration of the speech was 15 minutes 28 seconds. It should be noted that in the mentioned speeches the President spoke about the vaccination of adults. In his address dated 11/9/2021, lasting 15 minutes and 22 seconds, the American leader addressed the issue of vaccinating children. Parents are always wary of any manipulations with their children, especially medical ones. To achieve a more effective impact, the word vaccine was repeated 36 times, and the word booster - 17.

However, other words may also be repeated: "So there's no excuse, no excuse for anyone being unvaccinated"[8], "So please, please, please get vaccinated"[81].

In the following passages, the previous word is repeated again. This helps to reassure that the measures taken are really working: "Funding for ventilation, ventilation systems in the schools, social distancing in classrooms, even larger classrooms, on buses, and everything from bus drivers to buses, the actual bus, in all this process"[8].

 4. Syntactic parallelism is used: "It gives us time. It gives us time to take more actions, to move quicker, to make sure people understand you have to get your vaccine. You have to get the shot. You have to get the booster"[9].

The repetition of words has a huge impact on the recipient. The information is becoming more and more familiar. And even if initially a person was against vaccination, then gradually he can get used to this information: "the masses call the true information that is most familiar ... the repetition of information increases its perceived correctness and reliability" [1: 137].

To sum up, we can state that the strategy of positive representation of information allows you to quickly and vividly form a definite opinion on the necessary issue. The "reference to authority" tactic creates a more authoritative opinion on the issue of vaccination. The "appeal to logic" tactic complements the first, as it provides convincing numerical data. The "cautionary" tactic focuses on what a person will get if they don't get vaccinated.



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