Shaping Economic Reality: A Critical Metaphor Analysis of President Barack Obama’s Economic Language During His First 100 Days

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This paper analyzes President Barack Obama’s economic language during the first 100 days of his administration. Having assumed office during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Mr. Obama moved quickly to articulate the nature of the recession to the American people. The research illustrates how President Obama metaphorically reframes the role of government to ‘perfect’ inadequacies in the health, stability, and direction of the economy. Within Charteris-Black’s Critical Metaphor Analytic approach, eight major presidential addresses from Barack Obama’s “honeymoon period” were analyzed. This critical approach seeks to reveal covert (and unconscious) intentions through identification of metaphors, interpretation of the conceptual metaphors, and explanation of possible intentions through the interrelation of rival metaphors. Three dominant metaphoric constructions were identified in the data: embodiment/health, foundation/building, and journey/traveling metaphors. These reveal three basic conceptual metaphors Obama applies to the economy: a sick person, an unstable building, and a difficult journey. By mapping these source domains onto his linguistic target – the economy – the president characterizes the crisis, describes his policy initiatives, and details the recession’s duration.

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gnovis, v. 10, issue 1.