Linguistic Polarity and Presidential Campaigns: A Review of 2019 Town Hall Series on NTA, Nigeria

Tolulope Deborah Iredele


This study investigates linguistic polarity in Nigerian presidential campaigns from a Critical Discourse Analysis theoretical framework. It focuses on language use in the socio-political domain and sets to examine polarity markers in the 2019 town hall series on NTA, Nigeria. The study evaluates matchet-market indicators exploring divergent and cross purpose ideological frames reflected in the linguistic constructions of aspirants. Using a purposive sampling method, the paper identified four political parties on the scale of prominence and participation on the editions of “The Candidate” and exploited the relevance of pronouns and language intensification to validate claims.  The study shows that the first person plural pronoun we (and variant) is the most frequently used pronoun in presidential campaigns rating 76.60% compared to the third person plural pronoun they (and variant) with 23.40%.  Negative remarks rated 25% while the negator – not used for specific accusations scored 29.17%. The import of pronoun is used to unravel dimensions beyond the traditional substitutionary function while language intensification strategy is used to explore the cognitive framework and emotional/attitudinal disposition concealed in the utterances of the speakers. Essentially, politics strives to reduce tensions between needs and social realities, and language a critical tool in the negotiation of power. This study therefore recommends that political aspirants inform/persuade the electorates without creating, foregrounding or intensifying divisive lines for the furtherance of democracy, good governance and national unity. Courteous use of language should be embraced regardless of political leanings.

Key words: Linguistics, Polarity, Presidential Campaigns, Town Hall Series, NTA, Nigeria

1. Introduction

Language is a social lubricant necessary for the sustenance of all human relationships. It is a complex linguistic phenomenon transcending variety of contexts and forms. It is the horse on which words ride and the key to the window of the mind. Language use is both significant and critical in socio-political interactions and could influence electoral processes especially in democratic states. How intentions are packaged, structured and conveyed has overtime contributed to the wooing process in political campaigns. Language use has been proven a veritable double-edged sword that can either unify or polarize any community. Sometimes, deliberate use of language in the bid to gain or retain power creates divisive lines, polarizes and degenerates to party tribes. In a study by Jennifer (2018), “us” and “them” camp is created when leaders cast their opponents as immoral or corrupt through utterances that reflect distrust, bias and enmity. The extreme case of Nazist Party (Germany) led by Adolf Hitler in 1936 and recent vibe on which Donald Trump rose to power in the U.S are proven evidences that linguistic polarity influences political campaigns and can threaten democracy if not tamed. This confirms Charteris-Black (2016) observation that, “within all types of political system, from autocratic, through oligarchic to democratic; leaders relied on the spoken words to convince others of the beliefs that arise from their leadership”. The doings of politics and political activities do not exist without the use of language and language cannot be neutral in the doings of politics.

Politics in its classical meaning is referred to as the art of governance and power. Chilton and Schaffner (2002:5) define it as a struggle for power, between those who seek to assert and maintain their power and those who seek to resist it. Politics in a democratic state is hinged on who holds power and revolves around party structures. This is played out through the use of language in the forms of debates, campaigns and voting. To be involved in politics therefore is to compete for power. Though power is an elusive concept, yet, it has the capacity in any human relationship to control behavior and influence thoughts for the attainment of political goals (Moregenthau, 1985). Another key element is the language of polarized politics in presidential campaigns which is the fulcrum of this paper. Polarization is a common feature of democratic government. It entails a range of divergence in political attitudes to ideological extremism. It features alignment with a party’s ideological stance regardless of individual bias. In this case, supremacy of party interest and worldview supersedes individual mind-style. Therefore, party members align with the position of collective opinion on given issues and policies. Hence, identification with a political party is a natural indicator of one’s ideological framework and set of political beliefs. Basically, polarization in politics is a two-wing phenomenon; it thrives on the elite group and the masses. The elite group includes party organizers and elected officials while the popular group includes the electorate and general public. A common attribute however, is adherence to party lines in relation to the degree of political participation. One could be tagged a devotee or deviant depending on the degree of loyalty displayed.  In the case of Nigeria, political leaders exploit divisive issues along party lines and identify with trending grievances of the masses to unapologetically create and intensify polarity, a kind of masses felt common ground for the sake of de-marketing, matcheting and marketing as necessary.

Linguistic polarity therefore manifests when words are used to create (a) gulf between and among related interests. Bitter rhetoric labels and harsh words wind the wings of polarized discourse. Accusations and counter accusations mark the utterances in presidential campaigns. This is however observed to be capable of threatening national integration especially in a country where there are still issues reflecting unabated grievances and divergent identities. Polarity reflections could be covertly embedded in party manifestoes or overtly expressed in texts, talks and utterances. It could be structured in form of accusations, allegations, moral distrust, political retribution, and blame game. Humans are naturally betrayed by their words evident in the non-neutral relationship between language and the society. Words are not uttered in a vacuum but conditioned to reflect ideological and social frames. They are the Judas of the mind and invasive shadows of the innermost being. Discourse therefore constitutes a major channel through which political polarization manifests. This is because discourse is both socially constitutive and socially conditioned. This is in line with Solomon (2018) that language plays an important role in manifesting political wills and accompanying political actions during political campaigns, especially where the electorates are on the receiving end. 

2.1 Language Use and Communication in Political Campaigns

Political campaign is an important interface between the institution of power and the electorates. It is an avenue to trade in the electoral marketplace and a theatre that determines whether manifestoes would experience still birth or be given a chance to live. Political campaign is a form of civic engagement which involves mobilization and sensitization of citizens for partisan politics. It features persuasion, rhetoric display, making promises, showing commitment, self-messianic presentations, use of manipulative tactics and sometimes disinformation to convince electorates on issues of credibility and ability to bring about desirable political outcomes. The ability to use language to influence desirable result is hinged on effective communication through proficient language use. It is a discourse of not only what is said but the how and manner of speech presentation. It entails a display of rhetoric, flowery speeches and emotive appeals to woo the ballot through the mind.  Thus, it foregrounds interaction among content, context and rhetoric.

Communication derives its value from the total context in which it functions and it is a critical instrument in political campaigns. Communication through language use could trap or promote the political agenda of its users, bond or disengage the masses from political views and/or promote the acceptance or political climb-down of aspirants. Effective communication in political campaigns is central to the actualization of civic engagement in true democracies. Okwesili et. al (2017) opines that democracy demands an understanding of language not only as a communication tool but as a reflection of the symbiotic relationships between polity, culture and identity. In politics, language is a strong device for communication as it embodies different layers and contexts of meanings with the potential to influence decision and change.

2.2 Presidential Campaigns as Political Discourse

Since the emergence of modern societies, politics has remained one of the major fields of human activities where language plays a significant role. According to Dijk, (1998b), political discourse is a way of “doing politics”. This is because most political actions (such as passing laws, campaigning, media interviews, political talk shows on TV, party programs etc.) are largely discursive. As a dynamic social process and interactive forum, presidential campaigns involve a lot of linguistic negotiations aimed at achieving personal and social goals (Opeibi, 2009). Usually, the main goal of presidential campaign is to motivate people to vote for a particular candidate intending to occupy the highest political seat in the country.  This special form of political discourse ultimately seeks to foreground the speaker’s viewpoint to the extent that it impacts political decisions at the poll.  Most times, far from being accidental, linguistic structures are exploited to woo votes and give comparative hedge in the public light. This is achieved through the symbiosis of language game and socio-political engagements. Hence, the place of presidential campaigns as political discourse.

2.3 Political Polarization as Linguistic Polarization

Research has shown that polarization has filtered into political discourse and now rooting its feet as a democratic feature (Beaufort 2018, Helmbrecht 2002, Jennifer 2018, Karapetjana 2011). Media mediated campaigns such as presidential campaigns often feature the use of savory rhetoric for effect in the pursuance of political objectives which is manifested through language use in forms of debates, town hall meetings and public writings. In effect, this linguistic exploitation potentially widens social gaps and distorts swift cross pollination and intersection of political tribes. Polarization of political campaigns is strongly entwined with issues of language use and cannot be dissociated from ideological frames from which the manifesto of a political party is crafted. Thus, it leads the whims of its drivers, that is, the aspirants. In the words of Emeka-Nwobia (2016), “politicians are often power-seeking hypocrites who conceal personal ambition behind the rhetoric of political service and ideological conviction.” This therefore implies that language use in politics extends beyond just being a sign but a social tool for achieving subtle goals and objectives.

Political polarization through language use has intensified contemporary shift from structure based democracy (with their group-based identities and mainstream issues – toward a wider repertoire of personalized political experience and individual motivated concerns within a society marked by an increasingly participatory understanding of democracy) Beaufort (2018) to a fictionalized shred of political tribes. 

2.4 Language of Politics in Nigeria

One of the veritable sites for the exploration of polarity in politics is presidential campaigns and debates.  Some of the marked features of politics in Nigeria include manipulation, reference to God, portrayal of self as messenger, alignment with the masses (Emeka-Nwobia, 2016); warfare, battle, fight (Emeka-Nwobia, 2016); appreciation, promise making and criticism (Sharndama, 2015); coinages, rivalry and deviance (Iredele, 2019). It is also observed that Nigerian politicians are fond of using stale imagery, high blown words, dying metaphors and clichés.

Politics in Nigeria is largely sentimental and regionalized. Election campaigns across different states are rarely spared of shootings, attacks, and bloodsheds. This could be traced to the toxic shreds of political camps motivated by concentrated volumes of harsh words and bitter labels. The quest for power and party supremacy undermines the role of language use in the wooing process. The effect of the locutionary act in political rivalry ranges from minor to major and sometimes advances to extreme situation of regional and/or national insecurity and war.

2.5 CDA and Political Discourse

CDA has been established as one of the domains of research in discourse studies. It investigates how social power is used to show inequality and polarity. According to Rahimi & Riasati (2011), the discipline has attracted many scholars since the 1980s. Weiss and Wodak (2003) state that the emergence of CDA has occurred at a time that coincides with the growth of other critical theories in the social sciences, such as “critical psychology”, “critical social policy”  and “critical anthropology”. Because of its critical role in the interpretation of linguistic texts in various discourses, several researchers have explored analyzing political texts using CDA (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999; Fairclough, 1992; Rashidi, & Souzandehfar, 2010; Rahimi & Riasati 2011; Bayram 2010; Chimbarange, Takavarasha & Kombe 2013). More specifically, Massoud & Rahimi (2015) investigated Obama’s and Rouhani’s political speeches using CDA. Al-Faki, (2013) examined political speeches of selected African leaders from the linguistic perspective Ali & Kazemian, (2015) investigated reading text of Pakistan and the modern world.In Nigeria, a lot of studies have been carried on presidential discourse ranging from membership categorization (us vs them), (Adetunji, 2006); godfatherism discourse and politics of endorsement (Iredele, 2019); solidarity expression and solicitation, (Ayoola, 2005) to inauguration (Sharndama, 2015). Although the empirical studies of CDA seem to be conducted from different perspectives with the common interest in the interface between the structures of discourse and the structures of power, yet sufficient attention has not been given to polarity discourse in politics as well as its social implications in presidential campaigns. Consequent upon the existing gap, this paper attempts to examine the relevance of pronouns and language intensifiers in presidential campaigns to explore polarity discourse in Nigeria.  This is because the choice of language reflects intentions, ideologies and thoughts; therefore, the speeches in this study are deliberately captured as expressions of polarity in Nigeria politics.

Dijk (1985) holds that texts are not used just to inform us of some reality. They, additionally, based on the ideological standpoints of the person and organization involved in their production, construct the reality. Dijk (2000:352) describes CDA as a type of analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced, and resisted by text and talk in the social and political contexts. Therefore, it could be argued that the primary aim of CDA is to link texts with society and to link political issues with social problems. Dijk (2006:37) adds that CDA provides a sociological account of language use because of its interest in ideology, social relations, and the relationship between text and context. Dijk’s socio-cognitive model is tripartite in nature as it examines the inter-relationship between discourse, cognition, and society. By this, he believes that CDA should not limit itself to a study of the relationship between discourse and social structure alone, but stresses that language use and discourse always presupposes intervening mental models, goals, and general social representations (knowledge, attitudes, ideologies, norms, values) of the language users as well. In other words, the study of discourse triangulates between society/culture/situation, cognition, and discourse/language Amoussou, & Allagbé (2018).

Dijk’s framework consists of two main discursive strategies of ‘positive self-representation’ (semantic macro-strategy of in-group favouritism) and ‘negative other-representation’ (semantic macro-strategy of derogation of out-group) which are materialized through some other discursive moves such as ‘actor description’ (the way we describe actors or members of a particular society either in a negative or positive way), ‘authority’ (mentioning authorities to support one’s claims), ‘burden’ (‘Topos), ‘categorization’ (assigning people to different groups), ‘comparison, ‘consensus’ (creating agreement and solidarity), ‘counterfactuals’, ‘disclaimer’ (presenting an idea as something positive and then rejecting it by the use of terms such as ‘but’ in the second sentence), ‘euphemism’, ‘evidentiality’ (using hard facts to support one’s ideas), ‘example’/’illustration’, ‘generalization’, ‘hyperbole’ (a device for enhancing and exaggerating meaning), ‘implication’ (deducing or inferring implicit information), ‘irony’ (saying something and meaning something else), ‘lexicalization’ (an overall ideological strategy for negative other-representation through the semantic features of the words), ‘metaphor’, ‘national self-glorification’ (a device to create positive self-representation by glorifying one’s country), ‘norm expression’, ‘number game’ (using numbers and statistics to appear credible), ‘polarization’ (categorizing people as belonging to US with good attributes and them with bad attributes), ‘populism’, ‘presupposition’ (the common shared knowledge between people or the ideas taken for granted in a proposition), ‘vagueness’ (creating uncertainty and ambiguity), ‘victimization’ (telling bad stories about people who do not belong to US).

Since the basic focus of CDA is public speeches, therefore, political campaign discourse, propaganda, presidential debates, and town hall meetings series are of relevance in CDA. CDA cannot be downplayed in exploring and interpreting political discourse in a country such as Nigeria.

3.0 Methodological Framework

The methodical framework for this study is CDA. Scholars in this field such as Fairclough, Van Dijk, Kress, Wodak etc. believe that the choice of language reflect intentions, ideologies and thoughts which is an effective means for polarizing politics and therefore critical to this study. This work is premised on Dijk’s Socio-Cognitive model with specific interest in political polarity.As reflected from most studies by Dijk, ideological poles of “us” versus “them” and language intensification was used to examine polarity in presidential campaigns in Nigeria.  The socio-cognitive model by Dijk is based on the assumption that cognition mediates between “society” and “discourse”. The polarity-laden talks at the town hall interchange therefore constitute polarity discourse as they affect our socio-political lives and national well-being. Thus, it is deliberately captured as our data for this study.

The 2019 presidential town hall series on NTA, Nigeria serves as the site for this study. With reference to the recently concluded elections in Nigeria, the manifestation of political polarization could be classified into three groups labelled A, B and C respectively. A, represents the Action People’s Congress (APC); B represents the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and C, represents African Action Congress (AAC) and Young People’s Party (YPP). The presidential candidates of these parties were invited alongside their running mates to comment on critical issues that relates to their candidacy and party manifestoes. The APC was represented by the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.  Buhari is a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army and served as military head of state from 1983-1985. Osinbajo is a Nigerian lawyer, a top academic and a politician. PDP had former vice president Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate and Peter Obi, a former Anambra State governor as running mate. The AAC had Omoyele Sowore and Rabiu Rufai in attendance. Sowore is a Nigerian human rights activist, a pro-democracy campaigner and the founder of an online news agency, Sahara Reporters. Rabiu is a public health expert and a medical practitioner, he is a well accomplished professional and academic. YPP had Kingsley Moghalu and Getso Umma on the platform.  Moghalu is a political economist, lawyer, former United Nations official, and Professor of International Business and Public Diplomacy while his running mate, Gesto, the only female vice presidential candidate on the series is the daughter of Abdullahi Gesto an elected senator in 1983 on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The town hall series occurred in the order of YPP, APC, AAC and PDP on January 9, 16, 23 and 30, 2019 respectively.  The political program, “The Candidates” is a four-part, two-hour live televised town hall meeting series that featured the presidential and vice presidential candidates from the four leading political parties and afforded them the opportunity to engage Nigerians directly on issues of governance and nation building ahead of the general election. According to the organizers (Daria Media, and the Nigerian Television Authority with support from MacArthur Foundation), these parties were selected from the results of multiple polls aggregated by the Centre for Democracy and Development. This therefore informs the selection of the texts for this study. However, it should be noted that the validity of the statistics and data provided by the speakers in the excerpts is not within the scope of this study.

4.0 Linguistic Markers of Polarity in Presidential Campaigns

4.1 Language Intensification

It has been established from existing literature that language intensification and polarity interact. Language intensifiers are linguistic elements that strengthen evaluative utterances (Liebrecht, 2015), and can enhance attitude change (Hamilton & Hunter, 1998). Strong intensifiers work within cognitive frameworks such as relevance theory (Sperber & Wilson, 1994); theory of mind and verbal aggression (Lieberman, 2013) which influences the effect of a locutionary act. The use of intensifiers for effect in presidential campaigns could be either positive or negative. Negative utterances get more attention, arouse more emotions, have more influence on recipient behavior, and are stored longer in the memory (Baumeister et al., 2001). At the social level, negative messages are perceived to have stronger effects than positive ones because language users conventionally expect positive feedbacks premised on conventions such as politeness principle and face protection (Brown & Levinson, 1987). Also, when messages appear irrefutably negative, the unexpected feedback makes the effect more intense on recipients.

Language intensification could occur as word addition in the case of adjectives and adverbs, stylistic element or metaphorical usage. Although intensifiers are not inherently meaningful, yet they give additional emotional context to the word modified. Syntactically, intensifiers pre-modify either adjectives or adverbs. Semantically, they increase the emotional content of an expression and pragmatically serve various social functions. Language intensification in political discourse such as presidential campaigns could either call attention towards or draw attention away from a political party or an aspirant depending on how it is creatively exploited. Some of the language intensifiers employed in the discourse under review are displayed on table 2 below.

4.2 Pronouns

Politicalizing pronouns in presidential campaigns is obviously not new. It is a language game strategy intentionally packaged to suit socio-political needs. Pronouns are noun substitutes. They provide insight into the speaker’s level of social integration as well as self-focus. Brown and Gilman (1960) argued that the exchange of pronouns can shape or confirm the power dynamics and solidarity of a relationship. A reciprocal use of address forms implies relative equality and solidarity, while a non-reciprocal use signifies social distance and an unequal power relationship. Seen in this light, personal pronoun plays an important role in negotiating social status in interaction especially in politics. In the strategic use of pronouns, Gastil (1992: 484-485), along with Wilson (1990), further proposed that political aspirants are likely to strategically manipulate their pronominal references for some reasons which include the need to set forth ideological views on specific issues (for example, they may refer to the government as us or it depending on their view of the public’s role in civic life); and the need  to reveal how close or distant the speaker is to the topic under discussion or to the participants involved.  Beard (2000) observes that pronoun reference is always important in putting over a piece of political persuasion. Summarily, the pronominal system expresses role relationship between or among interactants in a given discourse.

4.2.1   The pronouns “I, we, us our” (inclusive pronouns)

Personal pronouns are markers of self-versus group identity (e.g., I versus we) as well as of the degree to which people focus on or relate to others. In the deictic function of personal pronouns, Helmbrecht (2002) explicates one of the classic uses of personal pronouns with respect to the case of the first person plural pronouns (English we) which is almost a universal means of referring to speaker-groups. Its usage consists of at least three important operations. Firstly, the speaker refers to a set of human individuals which were introduced in some way or other in the previous discourse. Secondly, he/she determines this set of people as a group, and thirdly, he/she explicitly states that he/she is a member of this group excluding others from membership of this group at the same time. (Helmbrecht 2002: 31) Further, Helmbrecht (2002: 42) indicates that the employment of the first person plural pronoun we is closely associated with the linguistic establishment of social groups. Speakers publicly demarcate social groups with regards to their hearers by using this pronoun. The prototypical usage of we pronouns provides a strong approach to establish and reinforce polarized identities. On pronoun choice by politicians, Lakoff (1990) argued that personal pronouns work subliminally on the addressee and do not stir suspicion as nouns might, even when their meanings and functions have been strategically manipulated. Sometimes the use of we could be deliberately ambiguous in its referential domain, leaving the larger populace uncertain whether or not they are being referred to. Such ambiguity of the pronoun we may create either a dichotomous or connective effect. In other words, personal pronouns may perform not only a person deictic function, but also a social deictic function in discourse.

Technically, all the four presidential aspirants employed the listener-inclusive (candidate plus masses) we to establish solidarity between them and the populace. The listener-exclusive we, (candidate plus group minus general public) is used to signify their roles individually and as a political party. This confirms the claim of Pyykkö (2002: 246), which states that “pronouns do not carry their own concept meanings, they get their meaning from the nouns, in whose stead they are used” which is demonstrated on table 1 below. The usage of we as a central campaign force of influence is laced with multi-referents and strategic functions. Given the essentially ambiguous nature of personal pronouns acting in the reconstruction and negotiation of identities and social roles, it is perhaps not surprising that politicians tend to use personal pronouns to equivocate in presidential campaigns for personal or sectional interest. 

Similarly, all the four candidates used the pronoun our deliberately to make listeners feel inclusive and have a sense of joint belonging. This language game reinforces an atmosphere of institutional identity and national integration in their respective discourses. The pronoun our is also used to show objects of collective interest (in this case national resources) of which the entire citizenry is a stakeholder. Presidential aspirants, therefore explore the use of pronoun to persuade the electorates for votes through the ballot. However, it is worthy to mention that candidates from the PDP being far more charismatic extensively used pronoun for inclusion, compound identity and belonging.

4.2.2 The pronouns “they, them, their” (exclusive pronouns)                                 

Politicians often use the third person plural they to separate and exclude themselves or their ‘group’ from others. The group dissociated from is usually viewed as oppositional and linguistically labelled using negative remarks. Sometimes it could be case of harsh criticism or an amoral accusation. The third person plural pronoun they and its variants them and their just like we, is used to create an- us and them separation. It can be used to make the speaker seem less responsible for his or her actions and show ideological difference among people and positive presentation of self of the speaker (Bramley 2001:182f). By separating us from them, the speaker sometimes creates an image of them being inferior to us (Karapetjana 2011:4). They can also be used in a neutral context, where the speaker does not speak of the others in a negative or positive way, even if they are still not part of the same group as him or her. Studies of political pronoun usage have illustrated that they can be used for distancing the speaker from the people spoken of. They is also used as an indefinite pronoun, meaning that it refers to people in general, i.e. not specific persons. 

5.0 Data Presentation and Analysis

This section features frequency rate of pronouns and language intensification usages that indicate ideologies of polarity in presidential campaign during the 2019 town hall series on NTA, Nigeria. The numeric values are further empirical evidences to support the view that language use in political campaigns can be exploited to achieve polarity in democratic states like Nigeria.

5.1 Data Presentation

5.1.1 Table 1:  Frequency Rate of Pronoun Usages that Signify Polarity

Pronouns PDP/% APC/% AAC/% YPP/% Total Cumulative score/%  Average Percentage%
We/us/our           108  
Listener inclusive we and variants 24 6 8 38   26.95%
63.16% 0% 15.79% 21.05%  
Listener exclusive we and variants 13 21 14 12 60   42.55%
21.67% 35% 23.33% 20%
Speaker exclusive we and variants 2 2 6 10   7.09%
20% 20% 60% 0%
They/them/their           33  
Accusation/attack 19 2 1 2 24   17.02%
79.17% 8.33% 4.17% 8.33%
Neutrality 1 1   0.71%
Indefinite case 2 2   1.42%
Listener inclusive they and variants 2 2   1.42%
They in referent to speaker’s group inclusion 2 2 4   2.84%
  50% 50%

5.1.2 Table 2: Frequency Score of Language Intensification Usages to Achieve Polarity

Language intensification markers PDP/% APC/% AAC/% YPP/% Total Average Percentage%
Very strongly/ very very 3 1 4 8.33%
75% 25% 0% 0%
Still 3 3 6.25%
100% 0% 0% 0%
Much more higher/much more more 1 1 2 4.17%
50% 50% 0% 0%
Certainly 2 2 4.17%
100% 0% 0% 0%
Huge 1 1 2.08%
100% 0% 0% 0%
Really 1 1 2 4.17%
50% 50% 0% 0%
Never/ever 2 2 4 8.33%
50% 50% 0% 0%
Extreme 1 1 2.08%
0% 100% 0% 0%
Accusative not 4 2 6 2 14 29.17%
28.57% 14.29% 42.86% 14.29%
Negative remarks/ comments 4 4 2 2 12 25.00%
33.33% 33.33% 16.67% 16.67%
Very 2 1 3 6.25%
0% 66.67% 0% 33.33%  

5.2 Data Analysis

5.2.1 Interpretation of Tables

Table1 above shows the raw data and percentages of occurrence of inclusive and exclusive pronouns as polarity markers in presidential campaign discourse. It is observed that PDP used the listener inclusive we and the third person plural pronoun they to indicate accusation/attack more than other political candidates in the preponderance of 63.16% and 79.17% respectively. This is probably done to market their party/candidacy and to de-market their rival political party. While APC made the most epic boast of the achievement of their political party/administration through the utilization of the listener exclusive we and variants (35%), it is observed that it technically evaded the usage of the listener inclusive we probably to evade accepting blame being the incumbent party. Also, the APC moderately employed the use of pronouns for attacks/accusation (8.33%) in comparison to their rival Party-PDP. Statistics from the table show that YPP and AAC exploited the use of the listener inclusive we to identify with the trending need, hope and aspirations of the Nigerian populace in the degree of 15.79% and 21.05% respectively. Also, they both utilized the reader exclusive we (23.33% and 20% each) to market the content of their manifestoes in a bid to woo the masses for votes. However, while the more conservative candidate of the AAC rated 4.17% on the usage of pronoun for accusation and attack, the candidate of the YPP rated on same average with the APC scoring 8.33%. Generally, it is observed that while only PDP used the neutral they and indefinite case variant, only AAC used the listener inclusive they to indicate social strata of the leader and the led.

From table 2 above, the compound pre-modifier (MMH structure featuring very strongly/very very) scored a total of 8.33%. The single pre-modifiers (MH structure featuring still, certainly, huge, really, never/ever, extreme and very) occurred in the preponderance of 6.25%, 4.17%, 2.08%, 4.17%, 8.33%, 2.08% and 6.25%. The complex pre-modifier (MMMH structure which features much more higher and much more more) scored a total of 4.17%. The accusative not (a negator)was the most used with 29.17% followed by negative remarks and comments scoring 25%. While the PDP rated 75% on the usage of compound pre-modifiers, APC rated 25%.  Also, only PDP and APC made use of the complex pre-modifier on an equal scale of 50% each. It is observed however that the AAC and YPP sparingly used intensifiers. This could be because they had no prior experience of governance at the presidential level being relatively new on the race. It is also assumed that both parties do not seem to constitute threat for the two rival parties. We can therefore say that language intensification as a discourse feature occurs more in the speeches of major opposition parties than the less popular ones. Generally, intensifiers impact on the listener’s attitude towards the subject addressed. Its significance in presidential campaigns is that it can influence the effect of the locutionary act to generate desirable and undesirable outcomes. As a polarity marker, intensifiers heighten the emotional content of campaign speeches, draw attention away from the opposition and elevate the in group as superior.

5.2.2 Instantiations and Discussion of Linguistic Data Pronoun Inclusion (I, we, us, our, inclusive they) (I, we, us, our)

The pronouns that political speakers use to refer to themselves or to their audience is often meaning significant especially in presidential campaigns. Personal pronouns (PP) are often used as a form of address, either to refer to an audience or the speaker. The first person PP is often used to foreground “self” as an attempt to exalt the speaker’s candidacy, show self-responsibility, and capacity to act in the required domain. The plural form “we/our/us” usually suggests inclusiveness, solidarity, unity of purpose, and pursuit of a common goal. It could be also manipulated to demonstrate such ideological alignment that conforms with the struggles of the electorates and gain popularity for selfish political interest.  Furthermore, PP in political discourse could also refer to a political institution, a political party or a restrictive group. This is because politicians who give speeches usually do so as representatives of the political groups such as political parties, governments or nations rather than as individuals (Al-Faki 2014). The excerpts below are instantiations of politically regulated discourses which are socially constrained in the context of power. They are evidences of polarity talks in presidential campaigns in Nigeria.

 In the last four years almost now, we have witnessed the performance of the current administration. At the time they came in, Nigeria’s economic performance was fairing, our GDP growth was 6%. Immediately they came in, they took us into recession and we are still getting out of recession. Our GDP growth now is about 2%. We have not fared better than when the APC administration came in      ….Today we have record insecurity, we have record unemployment… we have record of out of school children…. We have seen record poverty in Nigeria where we‘re now the poverty capital in the world. …Twenty-one million young men and women unemployed! We have never had it bad in this country. ….We have heard issues of fighting corruption and the noise associated with it.                                                             (PDP)

The speaker used we and variants to show inclusiveness, shared experience and common ground. He systematically outlined the socio-economic failures of the rival party and rated the incumbent administration low in performance. To drive home his point, he attempted a statistical comparison with the immediate past administration. His alignment with the grievances of the masses with reference to poverty, insecurity, unemployment, economic recession and education strategically paved the way for him to align with the populace, express his views and generalize it using the pronoun we.

 …we can learn. We can learn what they are doing. What we have today in government is that that we have people who are incapable of learning becoming teachers.                             (PDP)

The speaker migrated from the inclusive we to its restrictive usage. He exploited this subtle shift to manipulate his referent in the collective and institutional sense. He also lampooned the poor leadership style of the incumbent government and labelled them incapable of learning. The focus of the extract is to exalt his party comparatively in the public light, and present his candidacy as the political messiah to redeem Nigeria. Sometimes the use of we could be deliberately ambiguous in its referential domain, leaving the larger populace uncertain whether or not they are being referred to. Such ambiguity of the pronoun we may create either a dichotomous or connective effect. In other words, personal pronouns may perform not only a person deictic function, but also a social deictic function in discourse (Lakoff, 1990).

We cannot continue in that kind of situation where commanders loose lives, loose…..and then nothing happens to them! We (PDP) are committed to investing more on health care  (PDP)

The speaker used the inclusive we to affirmatively reject the unacceptable killings of the Nigerian army by bokoharam terrorists and the passivity of the government. To him, a situation where army commanders perpetually lose their lives is unacceptable, an indication of a failed system. The speaker used we to show group cohesion and by extension, calls on the electorate to discontinue with the incumbent party and embrace a more sensitive and committed party which he represents through the poll.

The cases we initiated in our administration are still in court. Most of the convictions that you hear today are cases we started in our administration…. We have moved people in the middle class cadre during the PDP admin than (we have in) the APC admin…We established the UBE…. Let me tell you what we were able to achieve when we came into office to fight corruption….We recovered over US$4billion…                                                                (PDP)

The speaker used we in its restrictive sense to refer to a political institution – his party. He recounted the exploits while in office and specifically mentioned their achievements. The aim of this epic boast is to increase his party’s popularity, upgrade their credibility and market their progressive agenda. According to him, the lifespan of his party’s achievement is a sustainable one. It transcends their term in office and remains relevant even in the incumbent administration. Thus, his party, and its candidate is reliable, dependable and responsible. Also, the statement “… we have been successful both in government, in public and in private” further reinforces the credibility of the party and its aspirants. Therefore, a vote for his party is a vote for success.

The foundations we laid in agriculture, the foundations we laid infrastructure… the foundations we laid there really deserve a second term for completion. As far as we are concerned, we went through the appropriate process and we did the distribution appropriately. What we’re doing about it (farmers/herders), we already started, we’re already telling the governors…           (APC)

As established earlier, pronouns could either be used to foreground governance and leadership or conceal it. Being the incumbent party, APC is technically positioned answerable to all the grievances of the masses to which other political party align. As a damage control mechanism, the speaker laid emphasis on the party’s achievements and its ongoing activities through the inclusive but restrictive pronoun we. The usage of we was to partly soften the harsh labels by the rival parties and position the incumbent party, APC as responsible, sensitive and dutiful. The cognitive effect of PP is that it works subliminally on the addressee and do not stir suspicion as nouns might, even when their meanings and functions have been strategically manipulated. The speaker strategically used this linguistic mechanism as a bridge to reach his audience and douse the perceived effect of the gulf created by the rival parties. His choice and recurrent repetition of the noun “foundation” was an appeal to the visual sense and a request for more time to lay structures and/or complete the work already begun. The adverb “appropriately” also recurs in the statement. The speaker gave a defense in response to the previous accusation of gross misconduct and abuse of office. We in this excerpt is used for both self and institutional referencing.

We started the largest program for social investment in the history of this country. We are giving the poorest people in our country today #5,000 every month. We are doing our home-grown school feeding. We are feeding 9.2 million children ….. We are dealing with poverty. We’ve saved so far $24b                                                                                                                    (APC)

The speaker uses the institutional sense of we (inclusive but restrictive) to outline the achievements of his party. His accountability and defense presents the incumbent government as being responsible and sensitive to the needs of the masses. He refers to the social welfare package for the vulnerable group (women and children) as a boost to his party and as a testament to their noble intent. The speaker repeatedly used we to refer to his party and the credibility of its representatives. He disabuses the label of prodigality with funds by stating the amount his administration has saved up. We in the excerpt is used for upgrading, enhancing and strengthening the corporal image of the speaker’s political party and presenting its candidacy as credible and responsible.

Today, we are here with fresh ideas, we’re here with innovative ideas, we are here to mend the country that has been broken by its governance wickedness and corruption. We are here with solution that march the aspirations of our people and we are also here (ready) to confront with courage, the leadership that mismanagement our opportunities and have destroyed our past and now trying to hi-jack and kidnap our future. And we are here also here able to speak on behalf of those who have been distressed and of course… we are here leading the chart on their behalf and we believe and we understand and we know given the opportunity we can put the miseries of the past in the past and march towards a better future for this country and we have done it before….We are here to salvage Nigeria and our teaming population from poverty. That’s the influence that will drive us to victory.                                                                                (AAC)

The excerpt above is another instance of restricted inclusion. The speaker uses we to refer to the political institution he represents. He extensively itemized the rationale for his party’s quest for political power and stated that the pathway to putting the miseries of Nigeria in the past is dependent upon courageous leadership which he represents. He further stated that his party is on a rescue mission with all readiness to confront mismanagement, corruption and wickedness in the political system. He believes thatfresh and innovative ideas constitute the solution to the Nigeria situation. The speaker further utilized we for enhancement, foregrounding and political marketing. He exalts his candidacy and political goodwill to show self-responsibility, and capacity to act in the required domain. The usage of we in this context largely focuses on the speaker and his running mate Rabiu Ahmed Rufai.

We are not investing in the areas that will make Nigeria work. We are not investing in education

We are not investing in… health… We are not investing in technology… We are not investing in security… and certainly we are not investing in infrastructure and human security….What our people need is light not excuses and where it belongs. When you continue to feed the greedy, the needy will continue suffer. Our problem is not wealthy generation in Nigeria, it is wealth distribution.                                                                                                                                  (AAC)

The speaker uses we to suggest shared responsibility and common ground on the one hand and to comment on the failures of the incumbent administration on the other. Rather than point and tag the rival parties, the speaker deploys the inclusive pronoun we to highlight the lapses in the political system and blames the economically dilapidated status of Nigeria on the little or no investment in education, health, technology, infrastructure and human security. The common knowledge is the deliberate exposure of the gaps in governance through a consensus and the subtle debasement of the incumbent party.

The speaker further strengthened his argument by stating that the major need of Nigerians is electricity (light) and that the nation is thus, sufficiently endowed to effect this. According to him, only good leadership can help distribute the enormous wealth in Nigeria appropriately. Thus, the speaker both identified and associated with the grievances of the masses through the neutral usage of the pronoun we.

We think that the time has come for Nigeria to have transformation. The challenges of the 21st century calls for a very different type of leadership….We are going to move the economy to innovation. We will also enable the commercialization of innovation. We will also back it up with access to finance for new and young entrepreneurs. We will enable them for them… for the commercialization of innovation. We will fund teachers training. We will reform the commercialization. We will reform how children learn. We are going to include a study of ethics into our primary and secondary school curriculum. We will make sure that contract awards…. We will build a united Nigeria. We will build this country… we will have a national ambition that … we will all…. We will be the most powerful black nation on earth.                                  (YPP)

The speaker in the excerpt above started his speech with the rationale for his political interest. He hinges this on the need for transformation in the nation and dynamism in leadership. He unveils his party’s manifesto to include economic innovation, commercialization, reformation, entrepreneurship, and special funding for the sake of repositioning Nigeria as the foremost black Africa country in the world. Something remarkable is notable in his speech, rather than antagonize the other parties, the speaker makes promises, woos his audience and discusses the content of his manifesto. This is because a campaign speech largely features making promises and futurity. The speaker therefore discursively employs we to project his campaign programs and to assure his audience of a better Nigeria through their votes. Also, the speaker used the listener exclusive we to refer to himself and his political party especially when making promises.  

We will defeat President Muhammadu Buhari at the ballot box. People are tired of the old recycled politician in Nigeria.                                                                                               (YPP)

The statement above is the concluding part of the speech by the YPP presidential candidate. It expresses both determination and threat. He is in particular set to contend against the incumbent government led by Muhammadu Buhari through the ballot box. The threat in this sense is non personal but political and temporary. This is because the language of politics in Nigeria largely suggests war, strive and contention.  The referent we used in the text extends beyond the speaker. It includes his political party and running mate. Thus, it further strengthens the claim that the pronoun we could be inclusive but restrictive especially when it is used to refer to an institution, government, group or party to which the speaker/writer belongs and represents. However, it could be manipulated to generalize the speaker’s/writer’s own feelings and presented as a collective opinion or cognition. (inclusive they)

Grammatically, the pronoun they does not suggest inclusion. It is a third person plural pronoun used for pointing, dissociating and distancing. However, in the context of this study, they has been deliberately captured to suggest inclusion and signify solidarity. The speakers used they to negotiate the issue of status within the group to which they belong and suggest hierarchy with reference to class. Power dynamics, social integration as well as self-focus are all captured in this context. In clear terms, the political aspirants used they to show inclusion but also suggest relative inequality, mild distancing and hierarchy between them and the restricted group (the case of PDP); and between them and the masses they seek to represent (the case of AAC and YPP). We can therefore say that inclusive they is a sub-category of an in-group element used to passively mark status, show mild distancing and achieve relative focus. It is non/less critical, empathic and inclusive. This way, the speakers are able to associate with their groups with a minimal participation in the concentric circle of we.

Under PDP, they started what they called Universal Basic Education, even went to tax companies.                                                                                                                                   (PDP)

Grammatically, the speaker exhibits a pervasive use of they.  They, in the excerpt grammatically suggests exclusion but contextually signifies group inclusion. The referent is PDP, the party which the speaker represents. He employs they to show his disposition subtly towards his subject matter. The tone of the message is one of distant association. He associates with his party on the subject matter but also reveals his idiosyncrasy by mildly distancing himself from the achievement. Thus, the usage of they discursively signifies restrictive group inclusion and a mild distance from the particular program by the in-group.

They’re there crying for help and … here leading the chart on their behalf               (AAC)

The expression above is another instance of group inclusion with a wrong pronoun usage. It is presupposed that the speaker used they for emphasis. In this sense, he is pointing to the group he is willing to represent. He is of the opinion that the masses are in pain, crying for help. They is used to present his non-profiteering stance and service-oriented mission to the ailing group he seeks to represent. He further elevates his candidacy and party as the panacea to the ailment of Nigeria. Also, the usage of they technically suggests hierarchy in this context. The speaker distances himself from the group in need help and those languishing in pain. He is suggestive of being selfless, sacrificial and volunteering to serve the vast majority below poverty line.

Their future cannot be best protected by people who do not understand their needs             (YPP)

The speaker here expresses concern about the disconnection between leadership and laity. He decries the huge gap between the needs of the masses and the focus of political leaders. He tagged the rival candidates as “…people who do not understand…” The utterance suggests the ideological standpoint of the speaker as well as his disposition towards the rival parties. By this, he is able to present himself superior and better qualified for the office of the presidency. He premised his opinion on his acclaimed grass root connection with the masses and concludes that his understanding of their yearnings is the key to rescuing Nigeria and protecting her future. The usage of the superlative adjective “best” further intensified the degree to which the speaker exalts his candidacy and his party above the other parties thus generating polarity. Exclusion (they, them, their)

The overall discourse strategy of the third person plural pronoun in political campaign is negative other-presentation. The speaker/writer presents a biased opinion of the out group, blames them for unpleasant situations and distances himself/herself from the discomforts in government. The excerpts below demonstrate this polarity marker.

At the time they came in, Nigeria’s economic performance was fairing, our GDP growth was 6%. Immediately they came in, they took us into recession Issue of security…at the time they came in, … today, it has spread North-West and North-Central                                              (PDP)

Accusations and counter accusations plague political discourse in Nigeria. Negative remarks and blame game permeate presidential campaigns. Tagging and harsh criticisms are not far-fetched in the political wooing process. The instantiations above explore the relevance of the third person plural pronoun to depict opposition, dissociation and exclusion. The speaker uses they to distance himself from the out group, their economic climb-down, and poor performance in national security. He accuses the incumbent government of deflating the Nigerian economy, and hiking insecurity in the north-west and north-central. The motile imagery he employed further enhanced his ideological stance that the ruling party has led Nigeria backwards rather than forward. According to him, these setbacks reflect poor leadership which his party has is advocating to salvage if given the mandate through the poll.

They promised they will make naira one to one with dollar, they would end bokoharam in six months, they promised that they were going to give Nigerians power, they promised issue of fuel being 47 naira, they promised to create 3 million jobs and we lost 18 million jobs… They have not performed to their expectations… By them o, there is almost 5 trillion unaccounted for. (PDP     

Another instance of polarity discourse is the satirical comments of the speaker about the over-blown campaign promises of the ruling party. Their counter-productive activities were not spared neither was their gross misconduct overlooked. He further requested for accountability, presenting the incumbent party as amoral with national funds. By this, he suggests that the ruling party cannot be trusted as “they have not performed to their expectations.”

You saw APC commissioning airports; they did not put 1 naira in those airports. It was … PDP… fully paid. They (APC) only came and delayed the project and now that election is coming they’re commissioning. You saw them talking about train…                              (PDP)

They, in political discourse could be also used for pointing and labelling. The speaker in the excerpt labelled the ruling party as being deceptive, short changing the success of the immediate past government as theirs through the use of delay tactics to favor their selfish campaign interest. By extension, the repeated usage of they suggests the speaker’s attitudinal disposition towards the ruling party.

If they had spent that 36 million naira, more people would have moved out of poverty…Those same people (PDP) … nobody took the trouble to get people out of poverty…There were no savings… they ought to have put some money aside                                                                (APC)

The speaker here blames the immediate past government for the short comings of the current one. According to him, the immediate past administration did not take the trouble to move Nigerians out of poverty. There were dormant funds that could have been properly channeled. He further accuses the previous administration as poor in savings, reckless with funds and uncommitted to the plight of the masses. He used the third person plural they to excuse his group from the economic distress of the nation. This dissociation suggests a cause and effect relationship of poor leadership and carry-over effect from the immediate past administration. The speaker further presents his party as being less responsible for the sufferings in the nation, a blame game strategy enhanced by the pointing pronoun they.

… even the current increase that they just did… (AAC)…They’re using stolen money… from their campaign                                                                                                                        (YPP)

The excerpt above captures the feelings and disposition of the two young politicians towards the older politicians. The first speaker decries the incessant increment in the cost of goods and services provoked by the high cost of petrol and the untold hardship it has brought upon the citizens. The second speaker accused the “recycled politicians” of plundering the national treasury for their selfish interests. He bluntly refers to them as thieves having stolen the funds meant for national development and diverted it for election campaigns. The speakers exclude themselves from being responsible for the negative situations in the country through the pointing pronoun they. They in this context is used for distancing, accusing and blaming. Intensification

Generally, intensifiers impact on the listener’s attitude towards the subject addressed. Its significance in presidential campaigns is that it can impact on the locutionary act to generate desired outcomes at the poll. As a polarity marker, an intensifier heightens the emotional content of campaign speeches, gets more attention through negative utterances, and elevates the in-group as superior. The following are instantiations of polarization using intensifiers in political discourse:

We are at a very very crisis point in this country…. Today …the situation is getting worse    … We have not fared better than                                                                                                   (PDP)

It has been established in this work that bitter rhetoric labels and harsh words wind the wings of polarized politics. The speaker exploited the adjective very to emphasize his point of view and to signify the extent to which the nation is at a turbulent state. The lexeme crisis suggests danger, disaster, and catastrophe.  It is a strong word that suggests an emergency situation that demands an immediate intervention to prevent looming disaster. The comparative adjective worse is in its second degree. The speaker leverages on this to compare between the current administration and immediate past. While he did not rate the immediate past good, he labelled the incumbent government worse. This can be inferred from his lexical choice – the positive form of worse is bad. To make things clearer, the speaker concludes that there had not been any significant improvement since the ruling party came to power. He usage of the negator not and the comparative adjective better is significant. In the overall, the speaker employs intensifiers to strengthen his utterances and foreground his disposition towards his opponent.

Our agricultural output was much more higher than the present admin. APC has never invested 1 kobo in power in the past four years. Anything about power today were those investments that PDP did. If you look at the reform of our government and also the privatization, it is a huge success                                                                                                                             (PDP)

From theexcerpt above, the speaker uses the intensifiers much more higher to comparatively express magnitude, and volume while he uses huge to describe size. He describes the productivity of the immediate past government in agriculture as enormous, and its economic reforms as an intimidating achievement. Also, he associates never which connotes zero frequency of occurrence with the main opposition party (group A). Thus, he speaks of the out-group in the negative light. The polarity significance of intensifiers deployed by the speaker lies in the heightening of the credibility of his own political party and lessening of the status of the main opposition party.

I very strongly take the view that a period of 3.5 years… turned around a lot of what was inherited in the previous 16 years and the period of the previous 16 years were a period in my view a lot of revenue came in but very little appear to have been done                               (APC)

The speaker is quite assertive here. He takes a rigid stance and bluntly endorses the achievement of his political party. He discredits the main opposition and accuses them of irreconcilable lean achievement. He further commented on the difference between income and expenditure of the immediate past government (capital investment, and social wellbeing) as being ridiculously laughable. The import of polarity in the excerpt is the portrayal of the in-group as savior and the out-group as scavenger, such extreme that marks political campaigns in Nigeria.

We believe we have a very strong believe that we are on to much more more progress if given a second opportunity…

He shows his unshakable faith and conviction in the blueprint of his party. He unapologetically expresses his idiosyncratic cognition and assures of far higher progress on the grounds of re-election into office to continue on the path which they have already begun. He uses much to doubly emphasize the comparative adjective more.  The relevance of polarity in the discourse is the exaltation and elevation of the speaker’s party above others.

As of 2012, Nigeria had 112 million people    in extreme poverty. If you look at the figures today, going by those same figures, it is about 86 million but higher than India… from 2010 – 2014, Nigeria earned the highest ever from oil revenue. In 4 years, Nigeria earned 383 billion yet poverty figures went from about 82–112 million in 2012 and the numbers continued.  Unfortunately, with the resources we had, poverty was not addressed… nothing was done despite the highest revenues in our history.                                                                                   (APC)

The speaker uses highest to indicate an economical peak point, further intensified by ever, a marker of frequency. He describes the poverty situation in Nigeria as a far unusual one. The pre-modifier extreme suggests a far too unusual negative point which the citizens are in. The usage of nothing suggests null investment by the immediate past government. To him, it is a wasted opportunity to redeem the status of Nigeria.  

Nigeria is not working for the people of Nigeria, is working only for the few people that continue to enjoy only at the expense of the majority      (AAC). President Buhari said he can do nothing about it but just pray! We did not elect you to be a prayer warrior; we elected you to secure our lives.                                                                                                                                           (YPP)

Since negative messages are perceived to have stronger effects than positive ones, the intensity of the speaker’s attitude towards the dysfunctional state of Nigeria is therefore more effective through the usage of not and nothing. The first speaker decries the stiff capitalist structure that continues to plague the vast majority at the expense of the rich few. The second speaker lampoons the zero capacity of the incumbent president to help in the rescue mission of Nigeria. He points out the essence of government and the failure of the incumbent administration to act in the needed capacity. The excerpts above demonstrate polarity through negation by highlighting the short comings of the rival parties and exalting the candidacy of the speakers.


The result of the study exhibited pronouns and intensifiers as two prominent discourse strategies used in political campaigns to signify polarity. While pronoun discursively suggests inclusion and exclusion; language intensifiers heighten the emotional content of campaign speeches, draw attention away from the out group and elevates the in group. Also, the use of personal pronoun was dominant. This implies that politicians rely more on personal pronouns in campaign speeches for self-emphasis, self-responsibility, self-exaltation, inclusiveness, solidarity, unity of purpose and pursuit of a common goal.  This claim is consistent with the findings of Al-Fakai (2014).

It is also observed that while group A and B held on to divergent ideological stance, group C had related ideologies. Polarity in this discourse contributed to the division of the masses over party policies and manifestoes. This research confirms the relevance of pronoun and language intensification strategy to achieve polarity in presidential campaigns and that language use is a significant interface between structure of discourse and the structure of power. This study suggests that polarized campaign discourses could be detrimental to young democracies if not tamed.


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