Stylistic Analysis of the French Presidential Speeches: Is Macron really different?

05/06/2021 ∙ by Dominique Labbé, et al. ∙ 0

Presidential speeches indicate the government's intentions and justifications supported by a dedicated style and rhetoric oscillating between explanation and controversy. Over a period of sixty years, can we observe stylistic variations by the different French presidents of the Fifth Republic (1958-2018)? Based on official transcripts of all their allocution, this paper illustrates the stylistic evolution and presents the underlying main trends. This study shows that de Gaulle's rhetoric is not mainly dedicated to his own person, or that the two terms of J. Chirac are not fully similar. According to several overall stylistic indicators, Macron's style does not appear as complex compared to his predecessors (F. Hollande or N. Sarkozy) but a more careful analysis clearly demonstrates his noticeable new style. Compared to the recent US presidents, the French ones present some similarities (e.g., similar mean sentence length) and dissimilarities (more I-words, less we-words). In this comparative analysis, Macron's style is also clearly distinctive from both the US and former French presidents. Opting for a more abstract discourse, less anchored in space, using less numbers, E. Macron tends to use long sentences. These various stylistic and rhetorical features could explain his being misunderstood by the French people and his recurrent low approval ratings.

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