Effectiveness of interruptions as a communicative strategy in the 2020 Presidential Debates in the USA

Title: Effectiveness of interruptions as a communicative strategy in the 2020 Presidential Debates in the USA
Author: Tymbay, Alexey
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2022, vol. 48, iss. 2, pp. 101-118
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

The research hypothesizes that the American 2020 Presidential debate participants used recurrent interruptions as a communicative strategy to gain more power on the debate floor and win the voters' support. The form of political interaction (televised debates) also affected the candidates' speech behavior in a way that it added another participant (the general public) to the discussion; as a result, an institutionally controlled form of political discourse was subjected to a medial turn. This kind of media influence contributed to the speakers' choice of specific interruption types during the debates. The research analyses the turn-taking strategies of D. Trump and J. Biden employed in the First and Second (and Final) Debates and matches them with the pre- and post-debate poll results. The article concludes that although having a certain impact on the perception of the politicians' personalities, the effect of interruptions as a debate strategy on the voters' final choices was marginal.
[1] Alieva, Tatiana (2008) Us-Them conceptual opposition in the political discourse of the US press. Philological Studies at MGIMO 34 (49), 18–26.

[2] Beattie, Geoffrey W., Cutler, Anne and Pearson, Mark (1982) Why is Mrs. Thatcher interrupted so often? Nature 300, 744–747. https://doi.org/10.1038/300744a0

[3] Benoit, William (2016) Political election debates. In: Mazzoleni, Gianpietro (ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication. The Wiley Blackwell-ICA. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118541555.wbiepc127

[4] Benoit, William and Sheafer, Tamir (2006) Functional theory and political discourse: Televised debates in Israel and the United States. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 83, 281–297. https://doi.org/10.1177/107769900608300204

[5] Chernyavskaya, Valeria (2013) Medial turn in linguistics. Vestnik of Irkutsk State Linguistic University 2(23), 121–127.

[6] Cho, Jaeho (2009) Disentangling media effects from debate effects: The Presentation mode of televised debates and viewer decision making. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 86(2), 383–400. https://doi.org/10.1177/107769900908600208

[7] Chowdhury, Shammur A., Stepanov, Evgeny A., Danieli, Morena, and Riccardi, Giuseppe (2019) Automatic classification of speech overlap: Feature representation and algorithms. Computer Speech & Language 55, 145–167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csl.2018.12.001

[8] Collinson, David and Hearn, Jeff (2020). A duel of contrasting masculinities. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/trump-v-biden-a-duel-of-contrasting-masculinities-148300

[9] Druckman, James N. (2003) The power of television images: The First Kennedy-Nixon Debate revisited. Journal of Politics 65, 559–571.

[10] Fairclough, Norman (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Longman.

[11] Fontaine, Maureen, Love, Scott A. and Latinus, Marianne (2017) Familiarity and voice representation: From acoustic-based representation to voice averages. Frontiers in Psychology 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01180

[12] Goldberg, Julia A. (1990) Interrupting the discourse on interruptions: An analysis in terms of relationally neutral, power- and rapport-oriented acts. Journal of Pragmatics 14 (6), 883–903. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(90)90045-F

[13] Hall, Christopher, Smith, Patrick and Wicaksono, Rachel (2011) Mapping Applied Linguistics. New York: Routledge.

[14] Ilie, Cornelia (2015) Parliamentary discourse. In: Tracy, Karen (ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. New York, NY: Jhon Wiley and Sons, https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118611463.wbielsi201

[15] Ivanova, Julia (2003) Strategies of Speech Influence in Election Debates. Volgograd.

[16] Kellett, Peter (2006) Conflict Dialogue. Working with Layers of Meaning for Productive Relation-ships. California: SAGE Publications.

[17] Montez, Daniel John and Brubaker, Pamela Jo (2019) Making debating great again: US Presidential candidates' use of aggressive communication for winning presidential debates. Argumentation and Advocacy 57, 282–302. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511431.2019.1672033

[18] Oreström, Bengt (1983) Turn-taking in English Conversation. Lund, Sweden: Liber.

[19] Paatelainen, Laura, Croucher, Stephen and Benoit, William (2016) A functional analysis of the Finnish 2012 Presidential elections. Studies in Media and Communication 4, 70–80. https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v4i2.1826

[20] Power, Richard J. D. and Dal Martello, Maria F. (1986) Some criticisms of Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson on turn-taking. Semiotica 58 (1–2), 29–40. https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.1986.58.1-2.29

[21] Rowland, Robert C. (2021) The 2020 presidential debates: reasoned argument or political theater. Argumentation and Advocacy 57, 218–235. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511431.2021.1949535

[22] Sacks, Harvey, Schegloff, Emanuel A. and Jefferson, Gail (1974) A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language 50(4), 696–735. https://doi.org/10.2307/412243

[23] Schegloff, Emanuel A. (2000) Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language in Society 29(01), 1–63. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0047404500001019

[24] Shaw, Sylvia (2000) Language, gender and floor apportionment in political debates. Discourse & Society 11, 401–418. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926500011003006

[25] Sopel, Jon (2017) If Only They Didn't Speak English. London: BBC Books.

[26] Stewart, Patrick (2020) An expert in nonverbal communication watched the Trump-Biden debate with the sound turned down. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/an-expert-in-nonverbal-communication-watched-temployinge-trump-biden-debate-with-the-sound-turned-down-heres-what-he-saw-148688

[27] Tymbay, Alexey (2018) Communicative strategies of American politicians. RUDN Journal of Language Studies. Semiotics and Semantics 9(1), 105–123. https://doi.org/10.22363/2313-2299-2018-9-1-105-123

[28] Uzuegbunam, Chikezie (2013) Sensationalism in the media: the right to sell or the right to tell? Journal of Communication & Media Research 5, 69–78.

[29] Van Dijk, Teun A. (2010) Political identities in parliamentary debates. In: Ilie, Cornelia (ed.) European Parliaments under Scrutiny.Discourse Strategies and Interaction Practices. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 29–56. https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.38.03dij

[30] Winneg, Kenneth and Jamieson, Kathleen (2017) Learning from the 2016 US General Election Presidential Debates. American Behavioral Scientist 61. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764217702770