A Corpus-Based Study of Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s Linguistic Styles

  •  Xueliang Chen    
  •  Yuanle Yan    
  •  Jie Hu    


Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, research on Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s linguistic styles has witnessed an exponential increase, with a lopsided focus on Trump in particular. This study compared Clinton’s and Trumps’ campaign speeches during the general election using a corpus-based approach. Discourse analysis of the corpora was conducted using the textual analysis software AntConc 3.2.4. The results showed that Clinton used a more diverse vocabulary compared with Trump, and that both candidates stuck to their core campaign messages in their speeches. Three major differences between Clinton’s and Trump’s linguistic styles were identified: 1) Clinton was inclined towards rational discussions of public policy, while Trump was adept at appealing to voters’ emotions; 2) Clinton was more positive and focused on her vision of the future, while Trump was more negative and fixated at depicting a dystopian reality; 3) Clinton aimed to find commonalities with the American people, while Trump aimed to highlight differences between himself and his opponents. By putting Clinton’s rhetoric on a par with Trump’s, this study highlighted their linguistic style differences as part of their grand campaign strategy, which could contribute to current understanding of the two candidates’ rhetorical preferences, political beliefs and strategies in their 2016 campaigns.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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