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The modern unstable geopolitical situation in the world draws the attention of researchers from various scientific fields to a comprehensive study of political communication issues. The importance of the political sphere of human communication and life necessitates the study of the linguistic features of political discourse at the present stage of its development. The most mobile and volatile is the pre-election discourse which motivates the need to identify the specifics of the texts of election campaigns. In addition, it is in the course of the struggle for power when participants of political communication apply all kinds of, sometimes unexpected or innovative, linguistic and extra-linguistic means to achieve their goal. In this paper, the authors analyze existing interpretations of the definition of “political discourse” and describe its universal and specific features. Observations and conclusions made by the authors of the article are based on extensive empirical material, namely on a comprehensive analysis of 5000 thousands publications of different genre devoted to the elections to the State Duma and the election of the President of the Russian Federation. During the analysis, the authors found that the universal characteristics of the pre-election discourse include such features as historical variability, stereotypeness, presence of cliché, rigidity, intentionality, wide application of slogans, and also polemicism and manipulativeness. Among the specific features of the discourse under study, the use of meta-graphic means, metaphoricality, the use of counterposing and comparison techniques, the ironic transformation or deformation of precedent texts, the frequency use of the subjunctive mood and imperative constructions are primarily distinguished. Certainly, the linguistic and non-linguistic features listed in the paper are not exhaustive and do not pretend to be complete, since pre-election texts are dynamic entities which content and characteristics can vary depending on the goals and objectives of institutional communication and the political situation as a whole.
The discourse theory is one of the most actively developing areas of modern linguistics. A lot of research has been devoted to the study of discourse, the authors of which interpret this phenomenon from different points of view and analyze various types of particular discourses functioning in modern public life [1-8].
A considerable number of Russian and foreign researchers are engaged in the study of political discourse. The interest in political discourse, according to A.N. Baranov, is determined by three factors: 1) the internal patterns of development of the linguistic theory itself, which could not ignore such a sphere of functioning of the language system as politics; 2) the need of political science for the methods of analyzing political texts and media texts for monitoring various trends in the public consciousness; 3) the social order associated with attempts to save political communication from manipulation by the public conscience [9, 245].
Political discourse attracts the attention of researchers also insofar as in this research paradigm, not the intrasystem language relations are brought to the fore, but the characteristics of the linguistic personality as the bearer of the corresponding culture and status-role relations.
However, despite the increased attention to political discourse, until now there is no generally accepted definition of this term in science. Different scientists offer their definitions for the language of politics, that are encountered in research along with the term “political discourse”. In most works, the terms “political language”, “political communication” and “political discourse” are used almost interchangeably. According to E. I. Sheigal, the terms “political communication” and “political discourse” can be used as non-strict synonyms [10, 29]. However, the researcher also talks about the need to distinguish between the concepts “political language” and “language of politics”. E. I. Sheigal writes that political language should be seen as a “resource open to all members of the language community” [10, 33]. The term “language of politics” is understood by the researcher as “terminology and rhetoric of political activity where politicians act in their professional role (like the discourses of other professional spheres: religion, medicine, justice, etc.)” [ibidem].
Thus, an analysis of existing political discourse studies allows us to say that this concept can be interpreted in two ways: both in the broad, and in the strict senses.
In a broad sense, political discourse is defined as “the sum of speech works in a certain paralinguistic context: the context of political activity, political views and beliefs, including its negative manifestations (avoidance of political activity, lack of political convictions)” [11, 22].
In the strict sense, political discourse does not go beyond the sphere of politics. According to this approach, political discourse is a discourse of politicians, that is, “discourse is political when it accompanies a political act in the appropriate institutional setting” [Ct. 12, 128].
In this paper, it seems logical to proceed from a broad understanding of political discourse, including in it after E. I. Sheygal, both institutional and non-institutional forms of communication, in which at least one of the three components belongs to the sphere of politics: the subject, the addressee or the content of communication.
Accordingly, the pre-election discourse is a kind of political discourse in the process of political agitation of citizens for their decision to vote for a certain candidate.
Like any other type of institutional discourse, a pre-election discourse has universal system-forming features which are determined by the main goal of political communication, the struggle for power. The type of communication under study is distinguished from a number of existing types of discourse by the presence of its own linguistic and extralinguistic features manifested at different levels of a language: phonographic, lexical, grammatical and textual.
The above-mentioned linguistic and non-linguistic features of a pre-election discourse make it possible to judge the importance and significance of studying pre-election discourse, for example, in order to identify ways and means of speech influence on the audience on one hand and understanding of these techniques and hidden intentions by the audience, on the other.
The work is carried out according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.
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