Speech Profiles Of Heads Of States In New Year Addresses


The paper presents the speech profiles of politicians from countries with different political and social systems. The speech style of politicians is defined by social order of the country and distinctive nature of the intended audience, and also by speaker’s individual preferences. The objective of the study is representing of the speech profile of political leaders of Germany and the United Kingdom. The material under study is New Year addresses of heads of the countries to the nation. To describe the speech profile of the heads of states, we chose a three-level model that includes lexicon, thesaurus and pragmaticon. Dictionary analysis of politicians is carried out, when studying the lexicon, which they use to appeal to the nation. Thesaurus represents the linguistic world view of politicians. Motives and communicative role, that a particular linguistic persona adheres to in the process of communication, are identified in the analysis of pragmaticon. Study results have shown that speech profiles of heads of the countries greatly differ from one another. Indeed, Chancellor A. Merkel manipulates peoples’ minds, using different communicative tactics in her speeches. The Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth II appears as a believer in family values;

Keywords: Linguistic personaspeech profilepolitical discourselexiconpragmaticonthesaurus


Politics in any society is an act of public discussion and agreement. Public speeches are especially important for political leaders. This is a way for them to prove the importance of their opinion and the prerogative of its interpretation. Politicians, speaking to the people, are fighting for power, using certain methods of influencing voters, trying to make a certain impression. Fabian (2013) believes that “the one who dominates the political debate, who knows how to influence his speech,... he wins in political weight, influence, and political power”. The speech portrait of a politician is his ability to behave in public, answer awkward questions, defend his point of view, and maintain the created image (p. 321).

Problem Statement

The speech of a politician is what we first pay attention to. The personal qualities of a politician and his personality are reflected in his speech profile. Alysheva (2012) said: “the manner of speech of a political leader is usually not accidental, it is dictated both by the General social structure of the state and the specifics of the audience that the politician expects, and by the individual preferences of the speaker” (p. 12). Speeches of various political figures have repeatedly become the material for research. The heads of states are most frequently in the focus of studies. Thus, Maslova and Gurina (2019) described a speech profile of Donald Trump based on the material of his tweets. Sitsi (2019) presents the speech profile of the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Vinnikova (2018) describes the role of verbal and non-verbal means of communication in speech of Spanish monarch. Snigireva and Talalay, (2019) study the speech profile of the political German leader Angela Merkel. Abramova and Agarkova (2019) worked with the speeches of French president Emmanuel Macron. Sladkevich (2016) researches organization of the semiotic space of new year greetings of Presidents of Russia, Belarus and Poland. The public speeches of Russian president V.V. Putin are very popular among linguists: Grosheva and Budaev (2017), Kozhemyakin (2018), Stepanova (2016) and others. Public speeches of different types are used as the material of research: tweets, interviews, victory speeches of US presidents (Bezmenova & Epstein, 2019), New year's addresses (Lasitsa, 2017; Panpan, 2019; Zaitseva & Guryanova, 2019) and others. A lot of researches have been carried out and Ruzhentseva (2019) even presented typology and speech organization of speech profiles.

Research Questions

In this paper, we will present the speech profiles based on the results of studying the New year's addresses of Federal Chancellor of Germany A. Merkel (Merkel A.) and Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain (Official site) in 2015 and 2016. There is a list of research questions: 1) collect the material; 2) - study how the concepts of speech portrait and language personality relate; 3) consider the features of each politician's vocabulary;4) identify the characteristics of each politician's thesaurus;5) set the features of each politician's pragmaticon; 6) - describe the results obtained.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of our study is to make speech profile of heads of state based on the material of New year's addresses and compare them to point out similarities and differences.

To achieve this goal, we considered various opinions on the problem of defining a "speech portrait" in modern linguistics; described models for describing the speech portrait of a politician; considered language tools that form the dominant features that form the basis of the speech portrait of Angela Merkel, and Elizabeth II.

Research Methods

In this work we used the methods of keyword selection, component analysis, and method of speech portraiture described in works of Moskvin (2017) and Teacher, Meyer, Vodak, and Wetter, (2017).

In linguistics there are different approaches and different understanding of what a "speech profile" is. Bazylev (2005) speaks about the versatility of the speech profile, which reveals "the links between mentality and the ways people behave" (р. 6). Leorda (2006) defines a speech profile as “the linguistic persona embodied in speech of a certain social community”, and she considers the composition of a speech profile as a special trend in research of linguistic persona (p. 15).

Here we should distinguish two concepts – “linguistic persona” and “speech profile of linguistic persona”. There are many interpretations of these terms that can intersect with each other. So, analyzing the interpretation of the term "linguistic persona" existing in the theory of linguistic persona, Ivantsova (2010) writes that "the term ... is used excessively broadly to designate a collective of native speakers". She gives the following definition of linguistic persona - "personality in summation of social and individual features reflected in the texts it creates ". The same is with the term “speech profile” – there is no universal definition in scientific studies. Therefore, it is often difficult to comprehend the difference between two concepts. In our study we relied on definition by Bespamyatnova (1994), who defines the linguistic persona as “a sum of the distinctive qualities of the personality, revealed in its communicative behaviour, and provide the personality with the communicative individuality” (p. 67).

Thus, from our perspective the speech profile represents the speech preferences of the individual, which are manifested in specific situations for the realization of his intentions and for influencing the listener, on the one hand, and, a combination of features that make the personality recognizable, on the other. As for the politician speech profile, the personal qualities of a politician and his personality are reflected in his speech profile. So far, scientists have not developed a unified exact scheme for analyzing the speech profile of a person. There are several ways to reveal the structure of the speech profile of a political leader and to describe it. The choice of a particular method depends on which speech aspects are important to us. The main approaches to the research are: rhetorical, psychological, pragmatic, communicative and linguistic.

The analysis of a speech profile from a linguistic point of view is a spectrum of different realization levels of a linguistic persona. Babushkina (2012) considers phonetic peculiarities (intonation features) as the central aspect of this analysis: “the speech tempo, its melody, pausing and emphasis of words, that carry the meaning and expressive charge”.

Examining the concept of a speech profile, Romanova (2009) narrowly defined associates it “with peculiarities of a person’s language behaviour”, broadly defined “with a linguistic persona, the prototype of a native speaker”. According to the researcher, the speech profile should be built on verbal-semantic, thesaurus and motivational-pragmatic features of a person’s language behaviour (p.119)”.

However, today, in our opinion, the most convenient model for describing a speech profile of a linguistic personality is the three-level model, which includes the lexicon, thesaurus and pragmatics. Kitaygorodskaya and Rozanova (2005) call a speech profile “a functional model of a linguistic persona” and, basing upon the three-level model of a linguistic persona by Karaulov (2002), they single out the criteria, according to which this model should be analysed.

The first criterion is the lexicon of a linguistic persona – this is the level of a person’s knowledge of the vocabulary and grammar of a language. At this level we analyse words and phrases, used by a particular person.

The second criterion is thesaurus, which conveys the linguistic view of the world of a person.

When analyzing a speech profile, emphasis is placed on the use of special vocabulary, colloquial formulas and speech patterns, due to which the personality can be recognized.

The third criterion, pragmatics, includes a system of goals, motives and communicative roles, which a particular person sticks to in the process of speaking (Kitaygorodskaya & Rozanova, 2005).

Basing upon this model, we have described the speech profiles of the political leaders of Germany and Great Britain; study materials are New Year addresses of A. Merkel on 31st December 2015 and 2016 and Elizabeth II dated 25th December 2015 and 2016.


Speech profile of German Chancellor Angela Merkel

1. Lexicon

New Year's address of A. Merkel is full of terms from the socio-political and economic spheres (Krise, Die Wirtschaft, Arbeitnehmer, Arbeitgeber, Reallöhne wachsen), which is an indicator of the competence of the Chancellor in Germany’s social and economic life. Nevertheless, the Chancellor's speech is easy to understand, which is important, as Merkel appeals to the simple German people.

2. Thesaurus

Since the main purpose of the Chancellor’s New Year’s address is raising the spirit of unity in German citizens - A. Merkel very often uses the pronouns “wir” / “unser”: “unsere Werte”, “unser Bestes”, “unsere Außengrenzen”, “unser Land”, "unser Sozialsystem". To create a semblance of a dialogue with the nation and direct interaction, Merkel also uses the pronouns “Sie” / “Ihnen”: "sie werden stärker sein", "Dafür danke ich Ihnen von Herzen", "Ich wünsche Ihnen".

Some words A. Merkel repeats several times, thus drawing the attention of her fellow citizens to some problem, for example, with the component "Terror-": " Terrororganisation, Terrorismus, Terroranschläge" or repeating phrases: " Ebenso steht völlig außer Frage", " Es steht völlig außer Frage" and so on.

To achieve this goal - the togetherness of the German nation - the Chancellor uses words with the initial components "mit" and "zusammen": "miteinander Mitbürgerinnen, Mitmenschlichkeit, Mitbürger, Zusammenhalt,": " Wir sind als Nation zusammengewachsen".

The speech of the German Chancellor is unemotional and reminds a report rather than seasonal greetings. It describes A. Merkel as a restrained and cool-headed politician: "Ab morgen treten zum Beispiel wichtige Verbesserungen in der Pflege in Kraft".

The formality of speech is reinforced by passive voice and infinitives:" Richtig angepackt ist auch die heutige große Aufgabe des Zuzugs und der Integration so vieler Menschen eine Chance von morgen".

Syntactically, speech is replete with complex sentences with several subordinates, contrasted with short, single-ended sentences containing the most significant information, they sound like appeal:"Doch sie ist stark", "Diese Arbeit wird sich lohnen", "Danke" , "Nicht in Generationen".

3. Pragmaticon

The pragmaticon level is a set of goals and motives of a politician. Domestic and foreign policy issues constitute a large part of New Year’s addresses, that live in dependence with the Syrian crisis (der Krieg in Syrien, Terroranschläge, Trauer and Toten und Verletzten). A. Merkel appeals to the feelings of fellow citizens, asking to show tolerance for refugees, since only tolerance promotes the coexistence of different nations and cultures within one country: "Richtig angepackt ist auch die heutige große Aufgabe des Zuzugs und der Integration so vieler Menschen eine Chance von morgen."

A significant part of the attention is to the successes of Germany in the economic sphere and its leading role in the European Union: "Und wir Deutschen haben jedes Interesse daran, eine führende Rolle dabei zu spielen."

At the end of the New Year's address, A. Merkel sets a goal for the citizens of Germany for the next year - to be a united nation. Once again schenames the important features of the German people, which, according to the chancellor, are the base for the country’s future:"Es kommt darauf an, auch in Zukunft ein Land sein zu wollen, in dem wir selbstbewusst und frei, mitmenschlich und weltoffen sind."

Thus, the represented speech profile of A. Merkel allows us to draw the following conclusions: Chancellor’s New Year’s address least of all resembles a congratulation, it is an agitation where the politician seeks to convince citizens of the correctness of his decisions, the rightness of actions taken both inside the country and on the world stage. New Year's address has the form of a report, with the summed-up results of the year, with estimated ways of solving problems and goals for the next year.

Speech profile of the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Elizabeth II

For many years, Elizabeth II represents and protects the ideals of the monarchy. Every year, on December 25, at 3.00 pm London time, the queen addresses the nation with a traditional Christmas message. One can find all of them on Official website of the British Royal Family (2019). The Queen glorifies traditional values and expresses solidarity with the nation, both in good and in tough times. For many years, the Christmas message fulfils the function of as a chronicle of global, national and personal events.

We draw attention to the fact that the Queen congratulates her people not on the New Year, as it happens in Russia and in Germany, but on Christmas, which undoubtedly affects the content and format of the appeal.


Formal style involves the use of polysyllabic words and bookish vocabulary, that is, words of Latin and Greek origin, as opposed to the conversational style, where simple, monosyllabic words of Germanic origin prevail. We found it interesting to define what vocabulary prevails in the Christmas message and why.

All texts were subjected to frequency analysis using the Semograf information system of graphosemantic modelling Semograf. The words Christmas, people, world, good, happy, new are the most frequent. They carry a positive connotation and, as a result, cause a positive emotional response from the recipient.

In addition, in her speech the Queen uses the vocabulary typical of the formal style of the language: words of Latin, Greek or French origin.

Words of Latin origin: voyage, significant, endow, disaster, fatigue, spectacular, illuminate, remember, united, ultimate, celebrate, accessible, recognise, separate, exceptional, acute, ultimate, indifferent, imagine, amicable, prosperous, enormous, accumulated, affection.

Words of French origin: embrace, envelop, develop, abandon, encourage, ability, brave, consider, civilization, citizen, discover, education.

Frequent usage of polysyllabic words: anniversary, celebration, community, compassion, concern, contribution, courage, different, difficult, disaster, discovery, effort, encourage, enjoy, especially, example, experience, familiar, festival, fortune, generation, ignore, important, impress, individual, inspire, international, joy, member .

However, the Queen also uses monosyllabic words of Anglo-Saxon origin: alone (from old English eallāna), ask (from old English āxian), bind (from old English bindan), etc. in order to avoid excessive formality and make her speech comprehensible for a wide audience.

Elizabeth II practically does not use terminological vocabulary. Her speech is plain and comprehensible. However, a significant number of abstract nouns, nominating feelings and emotions ( feelings of cheer and good will, hope, thankfulness, love and happiness, inspiration, dedication, friendship and support, devotion and generosity of spirit, courage or strength ) can be noted.

The Queen's speech is personalized and specific - in every speech she mentions her family: «And this year my family has a new member to join in the fun». She calls names: “A few months ago… .when I opened the Anglian Air Ambulance, where Prince William works as a helicopter pilot». She gives the details of her personal life: «In 1949, I spent Christmas in Malta as a newly-married naval wife». She talks about specific events: «One cause for thankfulness this summer was marking 70 years since the end of the Second World War» and about geographic names: «Grenada, the Bahamas, Jamaica and New Zealand won more medals per head of population than any other countries»;

She provides numbers: «But the 67 medals at this year’s Games in Rio and 147 at the Paralympics meant that the GB medallists' reception at Buckingham Palace was a crowded and happy event». She shares her thoughts and feelings: «I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special».

The length of the sentences is, evidently, the most striking characteristic of the message. In most cases, sentences are rather long and can take up a whole paragraph. Sentences are mainly complex and compound. These types of sentences are perfectly suitable to express the relations between the subjects of discussion (time, place and reason) or for a more detailed description in subordinate clause. In contrast to the colloquial style, such sentences clearly indicate the boundaries (the beginning and the end of the sentence) by means of connecting words (link words).

The text of the Christmas message is strikingly different from other official speeches of Elizabeth II. Despite the fact that communication situation - the monarch's appeal to the nation - involves the use of the formal style, the reason for the appeal - Christmas - has an impact on the language means and ways of creating the text of the address.


Peculiarities of Queen Elizabeth II Christmas message are due to the religious nature of the holiday, on the occasion of which she appeals to the nation. The semantics of Christmas speech has its own peculiarities each year, but it is always based on several basic concepts: love and the Christian faith, family, tolerance, mutual aid, faith, events in the life of the kingdom and the royal family.

The Queen has been choosing the communication strategy to build the entire text of the message around one central theme. In 2015 the main motive was the tradition to decorate the Christmas tree, which serves as a symbol of faith in moments of darkness (tough times). In 2016 - inspiration, which often becomes the driving force of great deeds.

In her address, the queen often refers to the theme of the family, including her own, so the keywords of each address are lexical tokens of the lexical-semantic group (my great-great grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, many families, newly-married naval wife, one particular family, children, then grandchildren, then great-grand children, my family has a new member, generations, parents).

The central theme of each address is the theme of Christmas (Christmas tree, symbol of hope, the Gospel of John, verse of great hope, Christmas carol services, people of all faiths, the Star of Bethlehem, For Joseph and Mary, the circumstances of Jesus's birth, Christ's unchanging message, acts of goodness, the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago, find in him the guiding light, Christ’s example, The message of Christmas).

Christmas – according to Elizabeth II - is the time to express gratitude: «Christmas is a good time to be thankful for them, and for all that brings light to our lives». It is family time: «For his family's tree, he chose an angel, helping to remind us that the focus of the Christmas story is on one particular family». It’s the time to reflect about such Christian values as hope, patience, faith: «…the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, often read at Christmas carol services…»;

A very important concept expressed in the Christmas message is tradition. It is known that the British are proud of their history and are meticulous about their traditions. The queen - as the keeper of traditions, repeatedly emphasizes their importance for the British people. «… many families wanted a Christmas tree of their own, and the custom soon spread».

Thus, there is a set of basic concepts, which reflect in the linguistic view of the world of Queen Elizabeth II, forming her speech profile.


The Christmas message is the only public speech delivered by the queen, written by herself, without any prior consultation with government members.

In the message of the queen there is no clearly expressed addressee, she does not use any addresses, only at the end of her speech, congratulating on Christmas, she uses pronouns “you all”. That is why it produces the impression that Elizabeth II does not appeal to anyone, but meditates on the past year, the values, the holiday, that is why the Queen’s speech is called a message. This word can be interpreted differently: 1) information to someone; 2) a vital idea. It is clear that the communicative purpose of speech is not to appeal to the nation, but to convey to people the main idea of ​​Christmas interpreted by the queen.

A mandatory component of each message is the wish of a merry Christmas: «I wish you all a very happy Christmas». The main idea of the Christmas message can be seen in the social contact of the monarch with the nation. This is an opportunity to show the monarch as a man made of flesh and bones, who speaks in solitude in her own house, since the queen's Christmas message is usually filmed in one of the family residences - Sandringham, Buckingham or Windsor Palace.

The queen is sitting or standing in a room with home furnishings. In the background one can see a fireplace, an elegant Christmas tree, bookshelves, photos of family members or pets. These details relate to the message of the speech - Christmas is a holiday that is spent at home with the family. That is why the theme of Christmas as a family holiday runs through all her messages.

Queen Elizabeth Christmas message is characterized by greater imagery than in the appeals of her fellow heads of state. This is achieved through the use of such stylistic tools as a metaphor ( a symbol of hope, to confront moments of darkness, captures our imagination, joys of living, lighting candles of hope, brings light to our lives, inspiration fed their aspiration, face a challenge, wipe out injustice ) and epithet ( touching picture, an inspirational group, terrible conflict, unsung heroes, quiet dedication, the humblest of beginnings ).

In her Christmas messages the queen often uses precedent phenomena (precedent name, precedent statement, precedent situation, precedent text), quotes famous people. Referring to the opinion of the authority figures, the politician pursues the following goals – to increase the credibility of the reported information and to use the site as a starting point for the further course of the author's.

In the Christmas message we can find such precedent statements as: Biblical phrases, utterances of famous people and thought leaders, proverbs

Thus, according to the conducted analysis - the main features of the speech profile of Queen Elizabeth II are emotionality and imagery. In the Christmas message, she appears not as a politician, but as a keeper of state values, the main of which are family, faith, traditions and unity. She does not analyze the political situation, but recalling the main events of the past year, gives them her own assessment. The fact that she speaks about many things with the prism of her own family brings her closer to the people, makes her not only a monarch, but also an ordinary person. The queen does not set goals for the coming year, but preaching Christian values ​​such as faith, love and hope, she encourages her subjects to look to the future with faith in the best, despite the difficulties.


The results of our work revealed that the New Year appeals of the leaders of different countries have significant differences. Thus, Chancellor A. Merkel in her New Year’s address does not congratulate the nation, but rather tries to prove the correctness of her arguments, manipulates peoples’ minds, galvanizing people into certain action. New Year’s address least of all resembles a congratulation. It has the form of a report, with the summed-up results of the year, with estimated ways of solving problems and goals for the next year and prompting to action. To achieve the communicative goal Angela Merkel uses various communicative tactics in her New Year's address.

The Christmas message of the Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth II has its own structure, different from the similar speeches of other politicians. It has no appeal, its main part is devoted to the events of the past year, the final part contains biblical motifs, and it always ends with a wishing of a merry Christmas. Queen of Great Britain Elizabeth II appears as a believer in family traditions, a supporter and protector of family values.


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03 August 2020

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

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Lasitsa, L. A., Snigireva, O., Talalay, T., & Ivanova, L. (2020). Speech Profiles Of Heads Of States In New Year Addresses. In N. L. Amiryanovna (Ed.), Word, Utterance, Text: Cognitive, Pragmatic and Cultural Aspects, vol 86. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 854-863). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.08.99