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“I Hope You Will Let Flynn Go”: Trump, Comey, Pragmemes and Socio-pragmatics (A Strawsonian Analysis)

  • Alessandro CaponeEmail author
  • Antonino Bucca
Chapter
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 20)

Abstract

In this paper, we discuss an utterance/pragmeme/pract by Donald Trump addressed to FBI Director Comey: ‘I hope you will let Flynn go’ (The complete original utterance as reconstructed by Comey is ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.” (Camp E, The hot potato of interpretative responsibility. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=33246, 2017)). We consider the explicature of this utterance (I hope you will drop the Russian investigation concerning Flynn) and its illocutionary and perlocutionary effects. We argue that while Republicans opt for an Austinian or Searlian analysis, in the attempt to deny that this utterance constitutes an attempt to influence Comey, there are reasons for adopting a Strawsonian analysis, casting it in the framework of pragmemes, worked out by (Mey JL, Pragmatics. Oxford, Wiley, 2001) to cast a socio-pragmatic analysis of utterance interpretation in context. According to this analysis, Trump illicitly tried to persuade Comey to drop the Russian investigation, interfering with the judiciary power. A case can be made for obstruction of justice.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive ScienceUniversity of MessinaMessinaItaly

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