Why did Trump say “I hope you will let Flynn go” to Comey?
Pragmemes and socio-pragmatics (A Strawsonian analysis)
In this paper, we analyse and discuss an utterance/pragmeme/pract proffered by US President Donald Trump and addressed to FBI Director Comey: ‘I hope you will let Flynn go’. We consider the explicature of this utterance (‘I hope you will drop the Russian investigation concerning Flynn’) and its illocutionary and perlocutionary effects. We argue that while Republicans opt for an Austinian or Searlean analysis, in the attempt to deny that this utterance constituted an attempt to influence Comey, there are reasons for adopting a Strawsonian analysis, casting it in the framework of pragmemes, devised by Mey (2001), that frame a socio-pragmatic analysis of utterance interpretation within context. This analysis shows, Trump illicitly tried to persuade Comey to drop the Russian investigation, and therefore attempted to interfere with the judiciary system. A reasoned case can be made for saying that Trump had the intention of interfering with America’s federal court system through this utterance.
Keywords: political discourse, pragmatics and law, speech acts, pragmemes, pragmatic underdetermination
Published online: 28 June 2018
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Cited by 4 other publications
Boogaart, Ronny, Henrike Jansen & Maarten van Leeuwen
Butler, Brian E.
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