“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate”
An appraisal-based study of dichotomies in Trump’s tweets about Iran
The diplomatic relationship between the USA and Iran has long been fraught and is characterised by various conflicts and the implementation of economic sanctions. It can be argued that the relationship became even more hostile after Donald Trump was elected president of the US. Trump’s sentiments towards Iran were made public through his behavior on Twitter, both before and after he took over the Presidency. These sentiments have been a mix of negative and sometimes positive views and opinions. This study uses a corpus of Trump’s tweets that explicitly mention ‘Iran’ as the basis of a linguistic analysis and applies to it the analytical framework of appraisal from Systemic Functional Linguistics. More specifically, this study focuses on how he established an Us vs. Them dichotomy. While the analysis shows that Iran has been generally portrayed negatively by Trump, there were several tweets where the Iranian government was appraised positively, too. More interestingly, in those tweets, he seemed to target Obama and democrats and represent them negatively while Iran was assessed in positive terms.
Keywords: appraisal , Trump, Iran, discourse analysis, representation, ingroups, outgroups, democrats
Published online: 30 August 2021
Alba-Juez, Laura, and Geoff Thompson
2017 “Tweeter-in-Chief: a Content Analysis of President Trump’s Tweeting Habits.” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 8 (2): 36–47. https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/communications/journal/wp-content/uploads/sites/153/2017/12/Fall2017Journal.pdf#page=36
Bakhtin, Mikhail M.
Biber, Douglas, and Edward Finegan
8 January 2020 “U.S.-Iran Tensions: From Political Coup to Hostage Crisis to Drone Strikes.” https://www.history.com/news/iran-nuclear-deal-sanctions-facts-hostage-crisis. Accessed 9 January 2020. https://www.history.com/news/iran-nuclear-deal-sanctions-facts-hostage-crisis
2017 “Tired of Nice People? An Appraisal-Based Approach to Trump’s Dichotomies.” Cultura, Lenguaje y RepresentacIón 18: 7–25. http://www.e-revistes.uji.es/index.php/clr/article/view/2714
18 January 2020 “Russia Says Iran Shot Down Passenger Plane After US Jets were Sent to its Borders.” Independent. Accessed 18 January 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-iran-plane-shooting-us-soleimani-fighter-jets-border-a9288781.html
Ceron, Andrea, and Giovanna d’Adda
14 January 2020 “Iran Makes Plane Crash Arrests, but Continues to Blame the US for the Disaster.” VOX. Accessed 19 January 2020. https://www.vox.com/world/2020/1/14/21065218/iran-ukrainian-plane-crash-arrests-soleimani-blame-us
2016 What I Learned Analyzing 7 Months of Donald Trump’s Tweets. Vox. Accessed 23/7/2018 from https://www.vox.com/2016/5/16/11603854/donald-trump-twitter
Enli, Gunn, and Anja Aaheim Naper
Gimenez, Elsa, and Natalie Schwarz
Hood, Susan, and James Martin
2005 “Invoking Attitude: The Play of Graduation in Appraising Discourse.” Revista Signos 37 (58): 195–220. https://opus.lib.uts.edu.au/handle/10453/1542
Hunston, Susan, and Geoffrey Thompson
Katzman, Kenneth, and Paul K. Kerr
Krzyżanowski, Michał, and Joshua A. Tucker
Lee, Jasmine C., and Kevin Quealy
2016 “The 282 People, Places and Things Donald Trump has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List.” The New York Times 25. http://flubu.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/The_282_People_Places_and_Things_Donald_Trump_Has_Insulted_on-Twitter.pdf
Liu, Dilin, and Lei Lei
Makki, Mohammad, and Michele Zappavigna
In Press. “Out-Grouping and Ambient Affiliation in Donald Trump’s Tweets about Iran: Exploring the Role of Negative Evaluation in Enacting Solidarity.” Pragmatics.
Martin, James, and Peter White
Moffitt, Benjamin, and Simon Tormey
2008 “UAM Corpus Tool”. Available to download from: http://www.corpustool.com.”
Ott, Brian L.
Pain, Paromita, and Gina Masullo Chen
. December 2017 “Who are the Houthis, and why are we at War with them?”. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2017/12/18/who-are-the-houthis-and-why-are-we-at-war-with-them/
Ross, Andrew S., and David Caldwell
Ross, Andrew S., and Damian J. Rivers
Ross, Monique, and Annabelle Quince
4 January 2020 “Why America and Iran Hate Each Other.” ABC News. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-04/history-why-america-and-iran-hate-each-other/11589584
Samoilenko, Sergei A., E. Shiraev, J. Keohane, and M. Icks
2016 “Character Assassination.” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Corporate Reputation 1: 115–118. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ssees/research/funded-research-projects/global-informality-project
2018 “ ‘Tweeting Engagement’. Strategies of Identity Construction and ‘Alignment-Disalignment’ in Donald Trump’s Use of Social Media.” Lingue e Linguaggi 28: 337–353. http://sibaese.unisalento.it/index.php/linguelinguaggi/article/view/19196
2018 Retrieved from: https://twiplomacy.com/blog/twiplomacy-study-2018/. Accessed 10 January 2019.
van Dijk, Teun A.
Wells, Chris, Dhavan V. Shah, Jon C. Pevehouse, Jung Hwan Yang, Ayellet Pelled, Frederick Boehm, Josephine Lukito, Shreenita Ghosh, and Jessica L. Schmidt
Wignell, Peter, Kay O’Halloran, and Sabine Tan
Wignell, Peter, Sabine Tan, Kay L. O’Halloran, and Kevin Chai
2021 “The Twittering Presidents: An Analysis of Tweets from BarackObama and realDonaldTrump.” Journal of Language and Politics 20 (2): 197–225. https://www.jbe-platform.com/content/journals/10.1075/jlp.19046.wig.