Barrack Obama's Speeches

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ISSN 1798-4769
Journal of Language Teaching and Research, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 254-261, May 2010 © 2010 ACADEMY PUBLISHER Manufactured in Finland.
doi:10.4304/jltr.1.3.254-261

A Critical Discourse Analysis of Barack Obama‟s
Speeches
Junling Wang
School of Foreign Languages, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou, China Email: wangjl36@163.com
Abstract—The Critical Discourse Analysis is often applied to analyze political discourse including the public speech, in which the speaker wins favorite response from the audience. This paper, based on Critical Discourse Analysis theory and Systematic Functional Linguistics, analyzes Barack Obama’s presidential speeches mainly from the point of transitivity and modality, in which we can learn the language how to serve the ideology and power. Moreover, we can have a better understanding of the political purpose of these speeches. Index Terms— Critical Discourse Analysis, transitivity, modalit y

I. INTRODUCTION
Critical linguistic is also called Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). It first originated in Britain in 1980s when the work Language and Control was published.
Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a type of discourse a nalytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced, and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. With such dissident research, critical discourse analysts take explicit position, and thus want to understand, expose, and ultimately resist social equality (Van Dijk, 1985). Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday (often M.A.K. Halliday), an Australian linguist, developed an internationally influential grammar model-the Systemic Functional Grammar (also called Systemic Functional Linguistics). It is the main foundation of Critical Discourse Analysis as well as other theories in pragmatics. The object of CDA is public speech, such as advertisement, newspaper, politic al propagandas, official documents, laws and regulations and so on. Its aim is to explore the relationships among language ,ideology and power. In the past twenty years, Critical Discourse Analysis developed quickly in aboard and had achieved great achievements. A large number of scholars have made contribution in the fields of critical analysis of political discourse. However, Critical Discourse Analysis is, comparatively speaking, a kind of new study in China. Only a few researchers work in this field. Since 90s of the last century, some articles about the basic theories and principles of Critical Discourse Analysis have just appeared in linguistic journals. Chen Zhongzhu, a professor in Beijing University, was the first person who introduced Critical Discourse Analysis to China. He made a review of critical linguistics and introduced its philosophical and theoretical foundations to Chinese linguists. Xin Bin is another prominent and productive scholar of Critical Discourse Analysis in China. From 1996 to 2 002, he published many articles to further the study of Critical Discourse Analysis, in which he discussed the birth, development and methods of critical linguistics (Xu Xiaoxia, 2008). Since more and more Chinese-foreign academic exchanges in the 21st century, the development of Critical Discourse Analysis has come to a new stage. We can see more and more articles about Critical Discourse Analysis appeared in academic journals.

We know that every four years, hundreds of thousands of Americans will welcome the glory moment of electing a new president. They will canvass for their favorite candidates willingly. And every candidate will apply his or her rich language expressions, impassioned speeches and wholehearted attitudes to try to win more votes. The stud y of presidential addresses has not only attracted the interests of political scientists and historians, but also attained the attention of linguists. This year, Barack Obama, the first African -American president in American history, captured the...
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