Dividing the world: The dichotomous rhetoric of Ronald Reagan




Halmari, Helena

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The language of politics often divides our world into two groups: those who share our own values, and those who supposedly oppose them. Ex-President Ronald Reagan was a master of the use of dichotomous language. His dichotomies were most clearly present in his descriptions of the U.S.- Soviet relations and the American and the Soviet military. The military build-up on the American side was exculpated, while the Soviet military build-up was vilified. With the change of the Soviet leadership in 1985, Reagan’s dichotomous thinking was challenged, and towards the end of Reagan’s presidency a slight change in his rhetoric can be noticed: he started to acknowledge a good side to the Soviet Union; however, there was often a tendency to denigrate the observed good. New areas of dichotomies arose, and vilification flourished till the end of his presidency.


Article originally published in Mutilingua in 1993


dichotomous language, politic, vilification, Ronald Reagan


HALMARI, HELENA. "Dividing the world: The dichotomous rhetoric of Ronald Reagan". Multilingua , vol. 12, no. 2, 1993, pp. 143-176. https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.1993.12.2.143