"Joe Biden is a corrupt politician!": Impoliteness in Donald Trump’s Tweets


Fithrotul Izzah(1), Thomas Joko Priyo Sembodo(2*)

(1) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(2) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(*) Corresponding Author


This study aims at investigating impoliteness strategies in 351 tweets taken from Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account (@realDonaldTrump) from the first presidential debate to the Election Day of the 2020 United States presidential election. The current study employed Bousfield’s (2008) taxonomy of impoliteness strategies to analyze the data. There are 368 occurrences of eleven impoliteness strategies across 351 tweets. The most common impoliteness strategy is use inappropriate identity markers (23.59%), followed by threaten/frighten (21.13%) and condescend, scorn, and ridicule (20.59%). These strategies were employed to attack and discredit Trump’s political opponents as well as attracting prospective voters. On the other hand, two impoliteness strategies, namely hinder/block and enforce role shift, were not identified in the tweets. The results indicate that Donald Trump’s tweets exhibited impoliteness and that it played quite a significant role as a means of political campaign during the 2020 United States Presidential Election.


Donald Trump; impoliteness; online communication; political discourse; Twitter

Full Text:



Albishri, O., Tarasevich, S., Proverbs, P., Kiousis, S. K., & Alahmari, A. (2019). Mediated public diplomacy in the digital age: Exploring the Saudi and the U.S. governments’ agenda-building during Trump’s visit to the Middle East. Public Relations Review, 45(4). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2019.101820

Angelini, E., Foglia, M., Ortolano, A., & Leone, M. (2018). The “Donald” and the market: Is there a cointegration? Research in International Business and Finance, 45(June 2017), 30–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ribaf.2017.07.129

Ardila, J. A. G. (2019). Impoliteness as a rhetorical strategy in Spain’s politics. Journal of Pragmatics, 140, 160–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.11.017

Ax, J. (2020). The 2020 U.S. presidential election calendar: Day by day. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-timeline-idUSKBN25Y1HI

Aydınoğlu, N. (2013). Politeness and Impoliteness Strategies: An Analysis of Gender Differences in Geralyn l. Horton’s Plays. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 473–482. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.093

Blitvich, P. G. C. (2018). Globalization, transnational identities, and conflict talk: The superdiversity and complexity of the Latino identity. Journal of Pragmatics, 134, 120–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.02.001

Bousfield, D. (2008). Impoliteness in Interaction (Vol. 167). John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.167

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/3587263

Choma, B. L., & Hanoch, Y. (2017). Cognitive ability and authoritarianism: Understanding support for Trump and Clinton. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 287–291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.10.054

Clarke, I., & Grieve, J. (2019). Stylistic variation on the Donald Trump Twitter account: A linguistic analysis of tweets posted between 2009 and 2018. PLoS ONE, 14(9), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222062

Culpeper, J. (1996). Towards an anatomy of impoliteness. Journal of Pragmatics, 25(3), 349–367. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3

Guo, S., Jiao, Y., & Xu, Z. (2021). Trump’s effect on the Chinese stock market. Journal of Asian Economics, 72, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asieco.2020.101267

Hammod, N. M., & Abdul-Rassul, A. (2017). Impoliteness strategies in English and Arabic Facebook comments. International Journal of Linguistics, 9(5), 97-112. https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v9i5.11895

Jordan, K. N., Pennebaker, J. W., & Ehrig, C. (2018). The 2016 U.S. Presidential candidates and how people tweeted about them. SAGE Open, 8(3), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244018791218

Klaus, J., & Koser, C. (2021). Measuring Trump: The Volfefe Index and its impact on European financial markets. Finance Research Letters, 38(January), 101447, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.frl.2020.101447

Lorenzo-Dus, N., Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P., & Bou-Franch, P. (2011). On-line polylogues and impoliteness: The case of postings sent in response to the Obama Reggaeton YouTube video. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(10), 2578–2593. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.03.005

Masullo Chen, G., & Lu, S. (2017). Online political discourse: Exploring differences in effects of civil and uncivil disagreement in news website comments. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 61(1), 108–125. https://doi.org/10.1080/08838151.2016.1273922

Methias, N. W. (2011). Impoliteness or underpoliteness: An analysis of a Christmas dinner scene from Dickens’s Great Expectations. Journal of King Saud University - Languages and Translation, 23(1), 11–18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jksult.2009.12.001

Murphy, J. (2014). (Im)politeness during Prime Minister’s Questions in the U.K. Parliament. Pragmatics and Society, 5(1), 76–104. https://doi.org/10.1075/ps.5.1.04mur

Nicolau, J. L., Sharma, A., & Shin, S. (2020). The tourism effect of President Trump’s participation on Twitter. Tourism Management, 81(October 2019), 104133, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2020.104133

Ott, B. L. (2017). The age of Twitter: Donald J. Trump and the politics of debasement. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 34(1), 59–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/15295036.2016.1266686

Paternoster, A. (2012). Inappropriate inspectors: Impoliteness and overpoliteness in Ian Rankin’s and Andrea Camilleri’s crime series. Language and Literature, 21(3), 311–324. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963947012444221

Perelmutter, R. (2018). Globalization, conflict discourse, and Jewish identity in an Israeli Russian-speaking online community. Journal of Pragmatics, 134, 134–148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.03.019

Schneiker, A. (2019). Telling the story of the superhero and the anti-politician as president: Donald Trump’s branding on Twitter. Political Studies Review, 17(3), 210–223. https://doi.org/10.1177/1478929918807712

Sherman, R. A. (2018). Personal values and support for Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential primary. Personality and Individual Differences, 128(January), 33–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2018.02.020

Teomim Ben-Menachem, E., & Livnat, Z. (2018). Desirable and undesirable disagreements: Jewish women studying the talmudic texts. Journal of Pragmatics, 138, 30–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.08.014

Vladimirou, D., & House, J. (2018). Ludic impoliteness and globalization on Twitter: ‘I speak England very best’ #agglika_Tsipra, #Tsipras #Clinton. Journal of Pragmatics, 134, 149–162. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.05.005

Wei, J. M. (2020). Naming candidates as preemptive discursive practice: The 2016 Taiwan presidential race. Journal of Pragmatics, 166, 84–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2020.05.012

Wijanarko, A., & Sembodo, T. J. P. (2018). Impoliteness and Power in U.S. Political Campaign Debates: The Case of Donald Trump | Wijanarko | Lexicon. Lexicon, 5(1), 28–37. https://jurnal.ugm.ac.id/lexicon/article/view/41277

Zhong, W. (2018). Linguistic Impoliteness Strategies in Sina Weibo Comments. International Journal of Linguistics & Communication, 6(2), 35–46. https://doi.org/10.15640/ijlc.v6n2a4

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/lexicon.v9i1.66685

Article Metrics

Abstract views : 627 | views : 642


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Fithrotul Izzah, Thomas Joko Priyo Sembodo

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Lexicon Office

English Department
Faculty of Cultural Sciences,
Universitas Gadjah Mada
Soegondo Building, 3rd Floor, Room 306
Yogyakarta, Indonesia 55281
Telephone: +62 274 513096
Email: lexicon.fib@ugm.ac.id

ISSN: 2746-2668 (Online)
ISSN: 2302-2558 (Print)

Web Analytics View Stats

Creative Commons License
LEXICON is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.