Fall 2017


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Trish Harvey

Content Expert

Joseph S. White


The idea for this project was born during the 2016 US presidential election campaign, after noticing that my students did not seem to find anything questionable about statements of politicians, while at the same time it seemed apparent to me that not all the candidates spoke in a straightforward fashion. This disparity led to my research question: What patterns of doublespeak characterize selected discourse samples of the two most recent US presidents? In this project, I presented the analysis of the candidates’ styles of doublespeak based on the number of occurrences and a technique that I called “The Beguilement and Sophistry Index”, which calculates the average number of instances of doublespeak per 1,000 words. The results showed not only which patterns each candidate favored in those speeches but also which candidate used more straightforward language. This project was not intended to provide a rigorous analysis of political language, rather it was intended to promote discussions about the use or the abuse of public language.

Project Type

Discourse Analysis Project


Adult Education, ESL/ ELLs, Reading, Teachers/ Teaching

Included in

Education Commons