The style of political speeches: a linguistic approach

Since classical antiquity, attention has been paid to the question how politicians and other public speakers can effectively construe their message. Although it is generally known that style can make or break a speech, at the same time a systematical investigation of style turns out to be troublesome. An explicitly formulated method of analysis is often lacking, which raises questions about the consistency and validity of these analyses.
In my paper, I will report on a new line of linguistic-stylistical research which aims at altering this situation. I will present a method for analyzing style in a more systematic way. The method contains classical-rhetorical as well as linguistic categories of analysis. I will especially argue that ‘style’ is not only a matter of ‘foregrounded’ rhetorical figures and tropes, but can also be found in ‘inconspicuous’ linguistic means which are neglected in most stylistical studies. This will be illustrated by using examples from the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Cognitive linguistics will function as the theoretical framework.