The New Year's address by the head of state to the nation has recently become a kind of attribute of the New Year’s celebration and the most popular holiday program. The New Year's speech by the leader of the state exists in many countries and is a traditional personal address of the head of state or head of government to citizens, usually broadcast on New Year's Eve on television.
From a linguistic perspective, this topic has already been considered , , , , but, nevertheless, it requires further analysis, the use of new factual material and methods. The specificity of political discourse as a sphere of implementation of the New Year's address is expressed in the fact that even in a situation of ritual communication, the speaker explicates his strategic attitudes. In our opinion, it is of interest to analyze the New Year's appeal in strategic and comparative aspects. The purpose of this article is to consider the New Year's address by the head of state to their people as a special ritual genre of political discourse, as well as to identify its strategic potential with a description of specific communicative strategies and tactics implemented by the speaker in this genre.
The material for the study was the texts of the New Year's addresses by the leaders of France: Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2011), François Hollande (2012-2017) and Emmanuel Macron (2017-2019). The texts of the speeches were taken from the official website of the President of France . The available video recordings of the speeches were also used for the analysis.
The New Year's address by the country's leader to their people is, first of all, a special genre of political discourse, under which, following E.I. Sheigal, we understand the political discourse as the whole set of speech works related to the sphere of politics, taken in the socio-historical context of their production [8, P. 27].
Among the public speeches of politicians, ritual and informative genres are distinguished. Many researchers consider New Year's address as a ritual genre of political discourse , , , , . The ritual nature of the genre of New Year’s address is expressed in the fact that it has its own history, which differs from other genres, which began in the 20th century. The Pope was the first to deliver his New Year’s Eve message. His message in Latin was broadcast on the radio back in 1931. In France, Charles de Gaulle introduced the tradition of pronouncing a speech on New Year’s Eve in 1960 .
The New Year's address also has its own attributes, which include the setting and non-verbal components of communication. Charles de Gaulle delivered a New Year's address sitting in his office. Valerie Giscard d'Estaing changed the protocol in 1974, addressing the French with a speech in front of the fireplace of the Elysee Palace, and in 1975 he invited his wife, Anne-Aimone, to join him. In 1981, François Mitterrand's New Year's address was for the first time accompanied by subtitles. Since 1984 one can invariably see the French flag in the background. It has been supplemented with the European flag since 1988. Throughout its history the New Year’s address has always ended with the French anthem, the Marseillaise. Jacques Chirac was the first President who started using the anthem both at the end and at the beginning of the New Year’s address. Nicolas Sarkozy's innovation was the delivery of his address on the air in 2007. In 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy's speech was broadcasted simultaneously on television, radio, on the official website of the President and on the website www.dailymotion.com/fr. Year after year, the popularity of the President's New Year's address does not fall and it is watched by 9-11 million people. As a rule, the president's address does not exceed 10 minutes. The longest speech was delivered by Charles de Gaulle back in 1961. The record was broken by Emmanuel Macron in 2019 when he was speaking for over 18 minutes , .
The criteria for classifying the New Year's appeal to ritual genres are also:
— eventfulness (festive event, celebration of the New Year);
— temporary localization, cyclicality (television performance broadcast by state channels on December 31 before the New Year);
— fixed form;
— performative character [4, P. 302].
The ritual nature of the genre of New Year's address is manifested in its relatively stable compositional organization, which includes the following elements:
— mandatory frame elements (addressing the addressee and optative);
— compositional (construction) part (occasion and congratulation itself);
— the ascertaining part (the country's achievements in the past year and plans for the future) , , , .
According to V.I. Karasik, the most important features of ritual discourse are high symbolic loading, meaningful recursiveness and rigid formal fixation . In the genre of New Year's address, form dominates over content, performativity and fatigue – over informativeness. The lack of novelty in the message leads to the fact that it is not so much the content of the statement that becomes important, but the very fact of its pronunciation. The content is perceived by the addressee a priori as something already known, as a tribute to tradition, so the listener, as a rule, switches the focus of attention to other components.
The New Year's address is called an autonomous diffuse genre in the field of political communication, formed on the basis of two genres that are close in intention – address and congratulations [1, P. 5].
The genre of New Year's address was formed from the genre of congratulations and has many similarities with it, nevertheless, these genres should be distinguished. Although both genres are phatic and ritual, they differ in communicative goals. The communicative goal of congratulations is to enhance the positive emotional state in which the addressee is [1, P. 8]. Political discourse being sphere for the implementation of the genre of New Year’s address lays its imprint on the model of the genre. The communicative goal of the New Year’s address is to unite the citizens of the country on the basis of common values and the dominant ideology , , .
Despite the ritual nature of the genre of New Year's address and a rather strict structure, the leader of the country, giving a speech
, has his own intentions, which predetermine the strategies of his speech behavior, which, in turn, are implemented by certain communicative tactics. The analysis of the factual material allowed us to single out the following strategies and tactics of the subject of the New Year's address discourse.
Strategies of emotional and evaluative impact. The distinctive features of these strategies lie in the fact that its purpose is to convey the speaker's attitude to what he is talking about, and thus to influence the feelings and emotions of the addressee. In political discourse, emotions, suggestions, images play an important role in influencing the masses. The strategies in question are represented by a number of tactics. Let us consider each of them in detail.
Tactics of addressing the addressee is implemented by using speech forms of address preferred by politicians. For example,
(1) Mes chers compatriotes! [My dear compatriots!] (Sarkozy 2007-2011, Hollande 2012-2017).
(2) Françaises, Français, mes chers compatriotes de l’hexagone et d’Outre-mer [French women, French, my dear compatriots from France and overseas] (Macron 2017-2019).
Presidents of France implement the tactics in questions using the plural nomination. At the same time, preference is given to generalized names with a civic flavor (Mes chers compatriotes!), which contributes to the creation of a semantic opposition "friend / foe", since this nomination contrasts two groups of addressees – compatriots and guests of the country, narrowing the potential audience on the basis of a civic characteristic. President Macron avoids an emphatically neutral nomination, since it does not express any emotions. On the contrary, he expands the circle of addressees, referring both to French men and French women, both to the inhabitants of the continent and the inhabitants of French overseas territories.
Tactics of gratitude involves the expression of gratitude to the entire people for something or to specific categories of citizens.
(3) J’exprime ma reconnaissance à nos soldats pour leur courage et je salue la mémoire de ceux qui sont morts pour la France. Ils sont 88. Et je n’oublie pas les blessés : ils sont plus de 700 [I express my gratitude to our soldiers for their courage and I salute the memory of those who died for France. They are 88. And I do not forget the injured: there are more than 700] (Hollande 2012).
In this example President Hollande expresses gratitude to the French soldiers serving in Afghanistan for their courage and invites them to honor the memory of those who died for France and those who were wounded. To implement the tactics, the speaker uses the verb construction "exprimer la reconnaissance". The recipient of the gratitude is specified and even the number of wounded and dead is being mentioned.
(4) Je sais aussi que certains d’entre vous sont aujourd'hui au travail parce qu’ils font partie des forces armées ou des forces de l’ordre, parce qu’ils sont médecins ou personnels soignants, parce qu’ils sont en charge des transports ou de la continuité des services publics. Je veux ce soir les remercier pour cet engagement [I also know that some of you are at work today because you are part of the armed forces or the police, because they are doctors or nursing staff, because they are in charge of transport or the continuity of public services. I want to thank them tonight for this commitment] (Macron 2017).
In the above example President Macron thanks those categories of French citizens who are at work and perform their duty on New Year's Eve: the military, police, doctors, nurses, transport workers and service providers. The implementation of tactics is facilitated by the use of the verb "remercier". At the same time, the addressee often uses the pronoun "je", which is generally unusual for the New Year address genre, emphasizing that this gratitude comes from him personally. These tactics also contribute to the implementation of other tactics, which will be discussed later, namely, tactics of unity. Possessive adjectives "notre", "nos" emphasize that everything that was achieved in the year became possible thanks to joint efforts and work, and this is worthy of gratitude.
Tactics of unity, in our opinion, is the main tactics of the political discourse we are considering, since it contributes to the realization of the global goal of the addressee – the integration and unity of the listeners as a single people. Let us illustrate what has been said with examples:
(5) Tout cela, nous l’avons fait ensemble. Car ces bons chiffres qui font chaque jour la France plus forte sont d’abord les vôtres, le fruit de votre travail, des risques pris par nos entrepreneurs, nos artisans, nos commerçants, nos agriculteurs, du génie créatif de nos inventeurs et de nos artistes, de l’engagement des ouvriers, des salariés, des ingénieurs [All of this we did together. Because these good figures which make France stronger every day are first and foremost yours, the fruit of your work, the risks taken by our entrepreneurs, our artisans, our traders, our farmers, the creative genius of our inventors and our artists, the commitment of workers, employees, engineers] (Macron 2019).
In the above example President Macron resorts to tactics of unity and pursues the goal of uniting his country’s citizens. The result of this uniting is the common good of development and prosperity of the country. The speaker emphasizes that everything that was achieved by the country over the past year was achieved through joint efforts. The adverb "ensemble" along with the inclusive pronoun "nous" and the possessive adjective "nos" are explicit markers of these tactics and are used to unite the collective addressee. Let us look at another example:
(6) Dans ce moment si crucial nous devons rester unis comme nous avons su l'être au plus fort de la crise. C'est cette unité qui nous a permis de prendre l'initiative d'entraîner les autres [In this crucial moment we must remain united as we were able to be at the height of the crisis. It is this unity that has enabled us to take the initiative to train others] (Sarkozy 2009).
In this example President Sarkozy calls on his people to unite in the fight against the crisis, since it is this unity that will help to cope with problems and set an example to other countries. The president unites, identifies himself with the French people, using the pronoun "nous" and lexemes with the semantics of unity (unis, unité).
Tactics of taking into account the addressee's values presupposes an appeal to national (freedom, equality, brotherhood) and universal human values (family, children, friendship, love, respect, mercy, work), close and understandable to all citizens of the country, which must be passed on from generation to generation. Let us look at examples that illustrate the implementation of these tactics.
(7) Alors que l’année s’achève, je suis heureux de vous retrouver pour vous présenter pour la première fois mes vœux pour l’année 2018. Je vous espère en famille, au milieu de vos proches, de celles et ceux qui vous aiment [As the year draws to a close, I am happy to meet you again to present my best wishes for the year 2018 for the first time. I hope for you as a family, in the midst of your loved ones, those who love you] (Macron 2017).
As it can be seen from the above example, President Macron appeals to family values that are relevant to French culture, the importance of which is especially strongly realized on the New Year's Eve and expresses his hope that his compatriots on this holiday are with their families, relatives and loved ones. The president emphasizes the importance of relatives and friends for everyone, including himself, thereby actualizing the image of a politician as a "simple" person who has a family and realizes its importance. Let us consider some more examples:
(8) Je veux aussi miser sur la fraternité. La fraternité, c'est ce qui nous unit, ce qui nous a fait un, ce qui nous tient ensemble [I also want to bet on brotherhood. Fraternity is what unites us, what made us one, what holds us together] (Macron 2017)
(9) Je suis le garant de ce qui fait notre pays, la France : nos institutions, nos forces vives, notre sécurité sociale, notre culture, notre laïcité, l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes, notre solidarité. Je tiens comme vous à ce qui nous lie, ce qui nous unit, à ce que nous sommes. Nous n’avons pas à nous adapter au cours des choses – ce n’est pas la France ! [I am the guarantor of what makes our country, France: our institutions, our living forces, our social security, our culture, our secularism, equality between women and men, our solidarity. Like you, I care about what unites us, what unites us, what we are. We don’t have to adapt to the going — it’s not France!] (Macron 2019).
In examples (8) and (9) President Macron appeals to such basic for every Frenchman concepts as “freedom”, “equality” and “brotherhood”. Acting as a guarantor that France will be committed to these values, the president emphasizes that this is what unites them as a nation and makes them French. In this example, tactics of unity, considered by us earlier, are simultaneously implemented. Possessive adjectives (notre, nos), adverb pronouns (nous), and the adverb "ensemble" contribute to the implementation of the tactics.
Tactics of glorifying his own country involves the president's emphasis on positive information about the country with the implicit conclusion that, despite temporary difficulties, we live in the great country. These tactics contribute to the simultaneous implementation of tactics of unity. For example,
(10) Il y a de l’honneur dans une grande Nation comme la nôtre à être capable de conjuguer compétitivité et solidarité. Performance et protection. Réussite et partage.<..> Vive la République ! Vive la France ! [ There is honor in a great Nation like ours to be able to combine competitiveness and solidarity. Performance and protection. Success and sharing. <..> Long live the Republic! Long live France!] (Hollande 2012).
President Hollande in his address says that such a great nation as the French has had the honor to combine competitiveness and solidarity, achievements and support, success and the ability to share it. It is noteworthy that the very spelling of the lexeme nation (Nation), with the capital letter, speaks of a special national identity of the French, in addition, it is invariably accompanied by an adjective with a positive connotation "great" (une grande Nation). Every French president we reviewed invariably ends his New Year's address with the words Vive la République! Vive la France!, which also speaks of the continuity of traditions and contributes to the unity of the people.
(11) Nous vivons dans l’une des plus grandes économies du monde, nos infrastructures sont parmi les meilleures au monde<…> [We live in one of the largest economies in the world, our infrastructure is among the best in the world <…>] (Macron 2018).
In example (11), President Macron, characterizing the economic situation in the country over the past year, uses the tactics of glorifying his country, which is implemented by using adjectives in the superlative degree: l'une des plus grandes économies du monde, parmi les meilleures au monde.
(12) Nous sommes un peuple de bâtisseurs, conscient de sa vocation universelle. Un peuple de temps long qui, parce qu’il sait d’où il vient, sait se projeter. Un peuple qui toujours sait se hisser à la hauteur des circonstances. [We are a nation of builders, aware of its universal vocation. A long-time people who, because they know where they come from, know how to project themselves. A people who always know how to rise to the occasion] (Macron 2019).
In this example President Macron, speaking of the tragic fire in Notre Dame Cathedral, emphasizes the continuity of generations and the spirit of history that permeates through France. Pursuing the goal of inspiring his fellow citizens, the President reminds that they belong to a nation of creators who are aware of their vocation, a nation that was not born yesterday, that honors its history and, despite the circumstances, goes only forward, and the French spirit never gives up. The implementation of these tactics is facilitated by the use of parcelling (un peuple de bâtisseurs, conscient de sa vocation universelle. Un peuple de temps long qui, parce qu'il sait d'où il vient, sait se projeter. Un peuple qui toujours sait se hisser à la hauteur des circonstances). In general, these tactics are actively used by French presidents in order to explicate the idea of the exclusivity of the French nation in the self-consciousness of its representatives and to model the idea of France as a country of freedom, equality and brotherhood (See also examples 8 and 9).
Tactics of creating an image of a "super enemy" involves turning to a generalized image of the enemy, the fight against which is seen as a challenge and a priority task facing the entire country.
(13) Je sais aussi l'inquiétude qui est toujours la vôtre face à cette menace terroriste qui ne faiblit pas <…>. Face aux attaques, vous avez tenu bon. Les terroristes voulaient vous diviser, vous séparer, vous effrayer, vous avez montré que vous étiez plus forts, rassemblés, solidaires et unis <…>. Mais nous n'en avons pas terminé avec le fléau du terrorisme. Il nous faudra continuer à le combattre — à l'extérieur <…>. Soyez certains d'une chose : que de cette lutte contre la barbarie, notre démocratie sortira victorieuse [I also know the concern which is always yours vis-a-vis this terrorist threat which does not weaken <…>. In the face of the attacks, you held on. The terrorists wanted to divide you, to separate you, to frighten you, you showed that you were stronger, united, united and united <…>. But we are not done with the scourge of terrorism. We will have to continue fighting it – outside <…>. Be certain of one thing: that our democracy will emerge victorious from this fight against barbarism] (Hollande 2016).
(14) En 2018, nous aurons à conduire d'abord sur le plan international plusieurs combats et des actions déterminées : la lutte contre le terrorisme islamiste au Levant, au Sahel et sur notre sol national et à ce titre, je veux ce soir avoir une pensée pour nos militaires qui sont en ce moment même sur ces théâtres de bataille ; je pense à leurs camarades tombés cette année. Nous gagnerons cette bataille contre le terrorisme. Je veux aussi rendre hommage aux policiers et aux gendarmes qui chaque jour luttent contre ce terrorisme islamiste et vous protègent au quotidien [In 2018, we will have to lead several battles and determined actions on the international level: the fight against Islamist terrorism in the Levant, the Sahel and on our national soil and as such, I want to have this evening a thought for our soldiers who are at this very moment in these theaters of battle; I think of their fallen comrades this year. We will win this battle against terrorism. I also want to pay tribute to the police and gendarmes who every day fight against this Islamist terrorism and protect you on a daily basis] (Macron 2017).
Examples (13) and (14) illustrate the implementation of these tactics, with the help of which the image of a super enemy (terrorism / extremism) is created, the fight against this enemy is regarded as the mission of France, as a threat coming from the outside, as a synonym for the fight against tyranny, with the enemies of freedom and democracy. In general, the use of military lexemes is typical for these tactics: menace terroriste, attaque, terroristes, le fléau du terrorisme, attentat, la radicalization djihadiste, combats, bataille, lutte, théâtre de bataille etc. Besides, the verbs with the semantics of struggle are used: lutter, combattre, gagner, protéger.
The topic of the fight against terrorism is present in one way or another in the discourse of all French presidents we have examined that is why we can conclude that these tactics are relevant for New Year's address, despite the ritual nature of the genre and its festive New Year's focus.
Information strategies. Despite the fact that the genre of New Year's address is characterized by the predominance of the phatic component over the informative one, we have identified information strategies that are implemented through two tactics.
Tactics of summing up involves informing citizens about the main results of the outgoing year. The end of the old year is a kind of milestone, a reporting period, and the status of the president gives him the authority to sum up the year for the whole country, reflecting on the past and focusing the audience's attention on already known facts. These tactics have some peculiarities of implementation in the speeches of the heads of state.
(15) L'année 2010 s'achève. Je sais qu'elle fut rude pour beaucoup d'entre vous. La crise économique et financière, commencée il y a 3 ans, a continué à faire sentir ses effets et nombreux furent ceux qui ont perdu leur emploi ce qui n'a fait qu'exacerber le sentiment d'injustice ressenti par des salariés qui n'étaient en rien responsables de la crise <…> Plus de 5 millions de salariés ont effectué des heures supplémentaires entièrement défiscalisées, tant pour eux-mêmes que pour les entreprises qui les ont employés, ce qui a permis de soutenir le pouvoir d'achat malgré la crise <…> [The year 2010 is coming to an end. I know it was rough for many of you. The economic and financial crisis, which began 3 years ago, continued to have its effects and many people lost their jobs, which only exacerbated the feeling of injustice felt by employees who did not were in no way responsible for the crisis <…> More than 5 million employees worked overtime entirely tax-free, both for themselves and for the companies that employed them, which made it possible to support purchasing power despite the crisis <…>] (Sarkozy 2010).
The implementation of these tactics by President Sarkozy is highly informative. The President pays special attention to specific achievements and problems of the outgoing year, scrupulously lists all the consequences of the economic crisis, his discourse is replete with numbers and percentages. Given the ritual nature of the genre of New Year's address the increased information content, in our opinion, causes a rather negative attitude, since an unprepared recipient is not inclined to perceive serious information and digital data. In this context mentioning statistics and numbers looks inappropriate and unconfirmed. In general, French leaders tend to focus more on negative results of the year than on positive ones. Thus, President Sarkozy uses an adjective with a negative connotation “rough” (rude), characterizing the outgoing 2010. Let us take another example:
Forecasting tactics involves building plans for the next year.
(16) Alors, mes chers compatriotes, ce soir je m'adresse à vous avant qu'une nouvelle année ne s'ouvre. Il y aura des difficultés, il y aura sans doute des choses que nous n'avons pas prévues ; vous aurez peut-être dans vos vies personnelles des moments de doute, des drames, mais n'oubliez jamais que nous sommes la Nation française. Et ce soir, je veux vous dire que c'est avec cet esprit de conquête que nous avons en partage, avec cette détermination entière, cette ambition sincère pour notre pays et pour chacun d'entre vous, avec cette volonté de faire vivre notre Renaissance française que je vous présente tous mes vœux pour l'année 2018 [So, my dear compatriots, this evening I am speaking to you before a new year opens. There will be difficulties, there will undoubtedly be things that we did not foresee; you may have moments of doubt and drama in your personal lives, but never forget that we are the French Nation. And tonight, I want to tell you that it is with this spirit of conquest that we share, with this entire determination, this sincere ambition for our country and for each of you, with this desire to keep our Renaissance alive. French that I offer you all my best wishes for the year 2018] (Macron 2017).
In example (16) President Macron resorts to forecasting tactics without going into unnecessary details, assuming that the French will face difficulties in the new year, as well as unforeseen events, dramas and doubts, thereby disclaiming responsibility for unfulfilled forecasts and simultaneously realizing tactics of unity designed to unite the people in the face of difficulties. The implementation of tactics is facilitated by the forms of verbs in Future Simple (aura, aurez), as well as the inclusive pronoun "nous".
Thus, the analysis of the New Year addresses of the political leaders of France indicates that, despite the fact that this genre of political discourse is strictly regulated and ritualistic, and in the discourse of different presidents there are quite universal characteristics and the repertoire of strategies and tactics is identical, it can be argued that there are certain national-specific features. These features are determined by the values and the conceptual sphere of the president's linguistic personality. Thus, the addresses of the French leaders organically combine information content and ritualism, but at the same time they are not distinguished by laconism and are characterized by informative overload, which does not fully meet the requirements of the genre. On the other hand, the discourse of the French presidents is ideologically colored and addressed to the traditional values of the French, which contributes to national unity and self-awareness. This study can be continued in identifying both universal and nationally specific characteristics of the genre of New Year's address on the example of the addresses of leaders of different countries to their people.
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