Presidential Memorandum as Institutional Discourse Genre (on the basis of Barack Obama’s presidential memoranda issued in 2009 − 2016)
The research concentrates on the complex analysis of the genre of presidential
memorandum (on the basis of Barack Obama’s presidential memoranda
(2009 − 2016) on the semantic and communicative-pragmatic levels. The growing
interest in the issues of the president’s speech behaviour in the political arena
explains the importance of studying presidential discourse and its genre palette.
The discourse generated by the social institution of presidency is a significant
subtype of institutional megadiscourse. It is a separate subtype of political discourse,
which, in turn, is an important type of the institutional one. Since the institution of
presidency is considered to be a separate unit in the US government, presidential
discourse is claimed to be an independent compomemt in the structure of political
discourse. The very fact that presidential discourse in US has its own distinctive
features, gives the grounds to allocate American presidential discourse an
Particular attention is paid to the analysis of the genre palette of American
presidential discourse. Presidential memorandum is viewed as an obligatory genre,
that is included into administrative orders. It has been discovered that all texts representing the memoranda under study
possess the analogous structure which includes the following components: variable,
partially variable and optional. Variable components include: 1) place; 2) unit;
3) preliminary indication; 4) signature. Partially variable components comprise:
1) date, 2) title, 3) addressee, 4) an object determined by the thematic content;
5) instruction for publication. The absolute majority of memoranda are entitled
Presidential Memorandum and only in rare cases one can find optional elements likes
DETERMINATION or DISSAPROVAL in the structure of the title. Some presidential
memoranda contain such markers as LETTERS, MESSAGES or NOTICES. Such texts
are regarded as hybrid genres. During the presidency of Barack Obama, 149 such
texts were written and published, namely 63 letters, 48 messages and 38 notes.
Optional elements highlight the pragmatic features of memoranda.
The texts under study have been subdivided into thematic groups and applying
the computer program of content analysis, the liguocultural codes in the texts of the
four main groups have been established: 1) Presidential Apparatus activities in the
field of home policy issues – ADMINISTRATION → SOCIAL GROUP → LAW;
2) Presidential Apparatus activities in the field of foreign policy issues –
ADMINISTRATION → GOVERNMENT → POLITICS; 3) Presidential Apparatus
activities in the field of military issues – SOCIAL GROUP → FIGHT; 4) Presidential
Apparatus activities in the field of terrorism issues – CRIME → PEACE.
It has been discovered that the efficiency of presidential memoranda is
reflected in the frequent use of performative verbs which determine their
communicative-pragmatic types, namely: memorandum-prescription, memorandum-
determination, memorandum-declaration, memorandum-evaluation.
By means of computer content analysis, pragmatic categories of the texts have
been analyzed and the predominance of modalities of manner, negation and intensity
has been established.
Preliminary comparative analysis of convergent and divergent features of
Obama’s and Tramp’s memoranda has been conducted and some differences have
Key words: presidential memorandum, institutional discourse, political
discourse, presidential discourse, linguocultural codes, Barack Obama.