Characteristics Of Linguocultural Type In The English-Language Political Discourse


This article deals with the problem of linguistic and cultural type in the English-language political discourse. Firstly, the authors give a brief introduction to what the problem is, how it is being interpreted in Modern linguistics, paying attention to the fact that in the genesis of cognitive-discursive paradigm of linguistics one of the aspects of description of a linguistic personality, and mainly the detailed discursive analysis and investigation of a certain linguistic and cultural type in political discourse is not affected to a greater extent. One of the main anthological criteria of a linguistic personality seems to be his symbolic essence. More than that linguistic personality may be characterised primarily via discursive means of expression. This means that in the focus of attention in this particular article is the analysis of a linguistic personality using the method of critical discourse analysis. Besides the authors also resort to the method of structural analysis of written, and oral speeches of this particular politician as well as the linguistic and cultural method. All these methods allow the authors to get deep into the essence of the linguistic phenomenon and come to the conclusion that a linguistic and cultural type is represented in a form of a linguopsychological type closely connected with a specific real person, being a paradigmatic invariant personality.

Keywords: Linguistic and cultural typelinguistic personalitypolitical discoursesymbolic essencetrickster


Recent studies of political discourse have been one of the most actively explored issues. (Connolly, 1993; Fairclough & Wodak, 1997; Jorgensen & Phillips, 2002; Van Dijk, 1993; Van Dijk, 1995; Wodak, 2011). This is no coincidence, since the sphere of politics, which took one of the leading places in the list of information messages and articles in the media and the problems most discussed by the world community in the 20th century, has now pushed aside other important areas in the global information space. More precisely, the dynamics of today's political life of the planet leads to the fact that political discourse actually absorbs such traditionally independent areas of the socio-discursive sphere as engineering and technology, sports, healthcare (in relation to the latter, we see the politicization of this seemingly purely medical problems like COVID-19) and many others. This is what determines such an increased interest in linguistic studies of the phenomena considered in the framework of political discourse.

At the same time, the relatively short history of the cognitive-discursive paradigm in linguistics leaves many areas of scientific research of political discourse almost untouched. One of these areas seems to be a detailed discursive description of a certain linguistic-cultural type in political discourse. Most often, a linguistic personality is examined in the fullness of the meaning of this term, i.e. the study examines not only the specific or characteristic features of the speech of a famous politician, but also his personality as such, in the unity of its strengths and weaknesses, which allows you to combine the character of a person, his actions and how it is expressed in his words in various situations reality.

A lot of articles and even dissertational studies are devoted to the study of the linguistic personalities of famous representatives of the Russian political establishment, who most often give oral messages or publish works of the memoir genre, and whose specific speech style or apt statements have become aphorisms. In particular, the works dedicated to the linguistic personalities of V.V. Putin (Alysheva, 2012; Sedykh, 2016; Sopova, 2011), V.V. Zhirinovsky (Galinskaya, 2014), N.Yu. Belykh (Astashova, 2013) and other political figures known in the Russian Federation.

Naturally, the political leaders of the Anglo-Saxon world were not ignored. In particular, studies of the same type as the aforementioned were dedicated to the personalities of W. Churchill (Krichun, 2011), B. Obama (Lipko & Antip'yeva, 2014; Nesterova, 2015) and other well-known politicians in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and others politicians in the countries of the British Commonwealth. Many works are performed in a comparative manner. For example, George W. Bush appears in one of the studies in comparison with V.V. Putin (Patrusheva, 2011).

All these works are united by the fact that they are focused on the description of a particular linguistic personality of a politician, i.e. specific person. Thus, they practically do not differ from other works on the study of a linguistic personality, which has manifested itself in the history and modernity of mankind in general and of its country in particular, such as writers, actors, thinkers, scientists. At the same time, a parallel paradigm of studying a linguistic personality should be noted, where the focus of the research is not so much on the personality as a unique individual, but as a type of linguistic personality, taken on the basis of the analysis of several personalities who are equal or close in value actions and, accordingly, having a number of general and at the same time specific for a given psychological type of personality mechanisms and skills for using speech. This allows us to talk about a certain linguistic type of personality, or, using the accepted term, about a linguistic type.

Problem Statement

By V. I. Karasik’s and O. A. Dmitrieva’s definition, linguistic and cultural types are “recognizable images of representatives of a certain culture, the totality of which is the culture of a particular society” (Karasik & Dmitriyeva, 2005, p. 8). From this definition it follows that the linguistic-cultural type (hereinafter referred to as LT) is associated primarily with a certain socially significant, or at least recognizable in society, sphere of systemic activity. It is for this reason that in most studies of LT most often the occupation of the studied type is highlighted as an integrating feature of this concept. Studies of English-language LT represent their variegated palette. Such, in particular, are “the English crank”, “hacker”, “rocker”, “British colonial employee”, “English snob”, “English butler”, “British queen” (Chekayeva, 2012) and many others. As we can see, the nomenclature of LT data is somewhat eclectic, since these nominations combine features that can be called differential. For example, almost all of these LTs are opposed to the “British Queen” type, since the former are in reality quantified by tens, hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, while the “British Queen”, speaking the commercial language, is “piece goods”. If other types are formed objectively as a result of selection of typical objective and stereotypical associative characteristics, the type of the British Queen has a slightly different nature of her generation.

Speaking about the type of the British queen, we would like to start from the studies of I.A. Murzinova, dedicated to just this type (Murzinova, 2009a,b). First of all, we would like to point out the fact that this type is outlined somewhat limitedly - because it is based on speech portraits of only two British rulers - Victoria, whose long reign was included even in the phraseological foundation of the English language, and Elizabeth II, i.e. acting queen. “Behind” the study are the following personalities: Elizabeth I, who alone left no less mark in history than the two monarchies mentioned, and Queen Anna, whom the general public knows only from the ironic characterization of her by V. Hugo in his novel “The Man Who Laughs”, humorous attitude to her by the directors of the film “Glass of Water”, and even the saying “Queen Anne is dead!”, corresponding to the Russian “You discovered America!”, and maybe not many, but nonetheless existing British monarchines, even the legendary wife of King Arthur Guinevere, not to mention Anna Boleyn, Maria Stewart and other quite historical characters, which can be attributed to the conceptual paradigm of the “British Queen”. This begs the quite relevant question - how many English queens objectively contributed to the formation of this type?

Research Questions

It is precisely due to these considerations that the LT problem is much deeper and more complex than a speech portrait and critical and scientific articles devoted to a given character or a certain social type. We fully share the opinion of V.I. Karasik that a linguistic personality (and, accordingly, LT) represents a unity of value, cognitive and behavioral characteristics (Karasik, 2002). This means that in the formation of type a huge number of diverse, sometimes contradictory factors of the formation of this concept intersect. In our opinion,

Gvozdeva (2009) makes a very correct and sufficiently polished clarification in understanding the term LT, she claims that LC type is not a standard or model (unlike an ideal person) and not the most common psychological type (unlike a modal person), but a certain symbol of culture (cultural concept), is fictional or non-fictional character that is significant for a single linguistic and cultural environment and at the same time forms an understanding of the main features of the nation among representatives of other linguistic cultures (in this aspect, it is related to the ethnic stereotype). (pp. 49-50).

Purpose of the Study

The main ontological parameter of LT, in our opinion, is its symbolic essence. If we take as a basis the following definition of a symbol in the Philosophical Encyclopedia: «A symbol (from the Greek symbolon – a sign, an identification mark) is an idea, image or object that has its own content and at the same time presents in a generalized, non-expanded form some other content. A symbol stands between a (pure) sign, whose own content is negligible, and a model that has direct resemblance to a simulated object, which allows the model to replace the latter in the process of research» (Dictionaries & Encyclopedias, 2020), the following two features of the semiotic essence of the linguistic type. Firstly, since LT can be not only an image, i.e. the trace of some previous activity, but also an abstract idea, and even a specific object, this greatly expands the scope of the term. Indeed, the idea may be to model some ideal type of people or other creatures on the basis of images created as a result of mythological, religious, folklore, fiction creative artistic activity. This is the idea of "superman" or "cyborg" in their cinematic Hollywood performance. Cinema, in turn, can generate its own ideas for a new personality. In particular, after the first films of «Star Wars» movie saga, along with the continuation of the main line of J. Lucas in the animated series, a whole series of literary prequels and sequels of this main plot appeared, where whole new races of personalities with their own specific characteristics appear (for example, dagi and wookiees are aggressive, nerds love intrigue, neimoidians are cowardly, greedy for money and therefore love commerce, hutts are prone to criminal activity, etc.). Moreover, demiurges may appear in all races whose physical and intellectual abilities are many times greater than the capabilities of the ordinary representative of their race - “positive” (Jedi) and “negative” (Sith). As for specific objects, as an example we can cite the typical Hollywood reverse role of a destitute, but not stupid and decent person performed by Ch.S. Chaplin, and the image generated by a specific person (though “non-linguistic”, dumb) later gave rise to such a circus and cinematic character as the Charlie clown.

Secondly, the intermediate position of the symbol between the sign and the model provides ample opportunities for a diverse, sometimes contradictory symbolic interpretation of some real content. This explains the stereotypical ideas of people about other people who get typed due to the frequent use of this national stereotype (for example, Russians are lazy and addicted to alcoholism, Jews are greedy for money, Spaniards are hot and not restrained, etc.). The same is true within any language culture (and for some professions, occupations, social status, etc., and at the intercultural level) professional stereotypes are created, as a rule, by people who are far from this profession, based on some indirect data, while time, as in any professional or other more or less homogeneous society, people are different. For example, usually a “scientist” is represented as an absent-minded, quiet, stupid kind-hearted person, although, as we know, there are idealists, hard-core pragmatists, decent people and scoundrels, kind and mean people, collectivists and scammers, and so on.

In connection with the above, an attempt to derive LT through a certain occupation or profession gives only the most general result, but such a model cannot be objective. In addition, we must not forget that people easily adapt to the course of history and change stereotypes of personal, behavioral (and, accordingly, assessment of these stereotypes by linguistic means) plan. It’s enough to recall how in the 1920s and 1930s a mass resident of the Russian Empire quite easily renounced the inviolability of the idea of a “tsar-father” and accepted the idea of social equality relatively peacefully (relatively because people united in the resistance of the Soviet power gangs or sabotage at enterprises and collective farms, most often were guided by property rather than political or ideological considerations).

You can, of course, refer to the fact that LT arises in naive thinking. To some extent, this was true until the moment radio, television, and then the Internet completely changed the information space of the planet. Even people who are not particularly sophisticated in the value and evaluative subtleties of understanding the general state of affairs and the role of individuals in creating modernity cease to draw unambiguous conclusions based on any of their previous stereotypes of perception and make inferences of the kind that, for example, scientists are naive in everyday life affairs, and in the police all polls take bribes. At the same time, language stereotypes continue to be the most persistent in the minds of representatives of a particular society, which allows us to talk about the relevance of the term LT.

Returning to the personality of the current Queen of Great Britain, one important point should be noted, namely, that almost all associations with this LT somehow pass through the image of Elizabeth Alexandra Maria of the Windsor Dynasty, i.e. through the image of a concrete, living now and accepting the most active, although not advertised, participation in the life of not only the United Kingdom, but also the whole world of the individual. In relation to this real person and politician, such fundamental concepts of the study of personality in a language as the “linguistic personality” and “linguocultural type” themselves come into certain contradictions, since the type is formed in diachrony, and the personality lives on today, is directly involved in the formation of modern geopolitical map of the world. This means that a modern politician as a linguistic personality can be characterized primarily through discursive means.

Research Methods

Although the question of applying discourse analysis to studies of the linguistic personality of a politician has been repeatedly raised in modern linguistic studies, as was shown above, clear criteria for such a study have not yet been fully established. Basically, the principles of critical discourse analysis are applied to the study of the linguistic features of a politician as a person, and the emphasis is placed on some statements that this politician drew attention to. For example, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher earned the nickname ‘The Iron Lady” not only by radical actions regarding the policy of the Soviet state, the war on the Falkland Islands (Maldives) and unpopular domestic politics, but also by a number of harsh or uncompromising statements. In particular, when one of the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Bobby Sands, who was detained at Maze prison in Northern Ireland, went on an unlimited hunger strike, many of her policy’s antagonists repeatedly reminded her of the following statements, which she parried to give Sands the status of a political prisoner: “Suicide is everyone’s personal affair” and “Crimes are crimes, and there is no political aspect in this case”.

This gives reason to believe that the leading factor for the study of personality in political discourse is, on the one hand, the reviews of others directly related to this person by his colleagues and antagonists, and on the other hand, his own statements and statements in connection with events that have value both in public and in the personal life of this person. In addition to critical discourse analysis, a structural analysis of the written and oral speeches of this politician, as well as linguo-axiological analysis, should be applied here. It seems that this should be a complex technique in which discursive methods “play on” semantic, and semantic - on discursive. In our opinion, this helps to specify a specific LT.


As an example, we will take brief samples from the analysis of the actions and speech actions of the current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. If to evaluate his contribution to the creation of the linguocultural type “British politician” is quite difficult, then we can easily establish his type in terms of behavior. This is a typical trickster.

The LT "trickster" has been studied in domestic linguistics for a rather long time. For the first time this LT receives substantiation in the work of V.I. Karasik and E.A. Yarmakhova, in which the trickster is considered as an integral part of the LT “English crank” (as cited in Karasik, 2006, p. 96). We consider “tricksters” as a special type, which, along with eccentric behavior, is characterized by a specific use of speech. Earlier, we argued that : “... the speech behavior of the trickster is currently one of the common patterns of speech behavior not only of the so-called “elite”, “secular party”, but also of people holding important posts in politics, economics, law enforcement agencies, and even in science and education. Typical “speech tricksters” can be leaders of parties or states” (Chekulai & Prokhorova, 2011, p. 220). We call this type linguopsychological, and this in no way replaces the basic term LT. The correlation between the linguocultural type and the linguopsychological type represents, in our opinion, the opposition “invariant :: variant”. The type is paradigmatic and therefore has certain prerequisites for abstraction, while the linguopsychological type performs not only specific actions, but also individual specific characteristics of speech.

An analysis of the works, articles and public speeches by B. Johnson provides sufficiently extensive material for his linguistic description as a representative of LT «trickster» in addition to his extraordinary appearance of actions. As an example, we take excerpts from his speech delivered at Greenwich on February 3, 2020. In particular, this speech is filled with parcellations, while the norms of oratorical style require the use of full sentences to argue the thoughts. In addition, the tricksters can do nothing wrong and deliberately distort the known facts (in this case, such statements should be distinguished from clearly incompetent statements, for example, the statement of the press secretary at the B. Obama administration J. Psaki about sending the 6th US Navy Fleet to the shores of Belarus). The following passage from this speech is noteworthy: «Let me ask you which is closer to Beijing? Wales or New Zealand? Does anybody know? Wales of course is the correct answer». It’s clear that Johnson complains that China does not buy beef from the UK, where Wales is traditionally considered the largest producer, but from New Zealand, and all this could be regarded as a joke, if it were not for the usual trickster technique to humiliate his audience in this context: “Does anybody know?”. And although a trickster-politician is an international type (compare, for example, similar manners of V. Zhirinovsky), the linguistic means of expressing this essence are determined by a certain linguistic code, and this once again testifies to the need to study linguocultural types and linguopsychological types, so to speak, “by national apartments”.


Thus, the following conclusion can be made. Being a paradigmatic, invariant entity, the linguocultural type gets realized in the form of linguopsychological types that are associated with specific, real personalities. This situation is especially important when combining discursive and linguopersonal research, because, as we know, discourse is “speech immersed in life”, analyzed, undoubtedly, based on invariant knowledge, but drawing the main raw materials from real communication, real speech acts, real linguistic personalities. This becomes especially important in the study of political discourse, since such a study is important not only from a purely theoretical point of view, but it should also be borne in mind that it is these personalities that set the tone for modern world politics, and how adequately they do this determines our general fate.


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