Who are we?
Contesting meanings in the speeches of national leaders in Taiwan during the authoritarian period
This paper analyzes how political aspirations and convictions during Taiwan’s authoritarian period (from the 1940s to 1996) are expressed through first-person plural pronouns. Combining both corpus-assisted method and discourse historical analysis (DHA, Wodak et al. 1999), we compared the speeches delivered by the presidents – Chiang Kai-shek (CKS, 1955–1975), Chiang Ching-kuo (CCK, 1978–1988), and Lee Teng-hui (LTH, 1989–1996) – from the one-party domination era to the time of the direct presidential elections in 1996. Moreover, by locating lexical items in the co-texts and checking the collocates, we have tried to find referents of we against changing socio-political contexts. The meaning of we has changed from representing Chinese compatriots on the Chinese mainland and the revolutionary militia in CKS’s speeches to an over-inclusion and more hearer-dominant (HD) we in CCK’s speeches. A “wandering we” was found in LTH’s speeches with which a well-defined national collectivity was difficult to identify in the late 1980s.