Introduction: 3-5 sentences
Who is the audience of Obama’s speech, and what is its purpose? Therefore, in what context does he deliver this speech? How much control does Obama have when adjusting his spoken language?
-Aimed to persuade people to vote for him.
- Initially an underdog
- Aimed to connect with audience while still remaining authoritative - Controls figurative message through use of spoken language techniques
Barack Obama delivered this speech during his election campaign to persuade voters that a vote for him would lead to positive and lasting change. Although he was initially an underdog, he used this to connect with his audience while remaining authoritative and presidential. In this particular speech he is able to use spoken language techniques to control a variety of figurative message that centre around his anthem of ‘Yes We Can.’
Analysis: 5 paragraphs, each at least 5 sentences
You need to pick out points thematically. That is, you need not progress chronologically through the speech (although it might be useful for some.) Also, you should avoid merely analysing a different technique in each paragraph. Yes, you must analyse different techniques particular to spoken language – this is always rooted in the context of the language, though. What I mean by ‘rooted in the context’ is that the technique must specifically be applied to what is being said. Therefore, repetition doesn’t just emphasise what is being said – the repetition of ‘yes we can’ creates a positive anthem that sustains the examples of how negative situations have been overcome, for example.
1) Extract begins with how Obama takes the audience into his confidence (although this was not the beginning of the speech) – refers to personal pronoun “we know” and audience interaction.
- Obama infers how party are underdogs
- Why use militaristic language?
- eye contact (and pause) with audience on “we know”
- Who is the ‘we’ in this phrase?
As the extract opens Obama infers that his party are the underdogs in the election battle. Using militaristic language he states, “the battle ahead will be long.” While it is a risky strategy to seem to admit weakness, this is part of his overall strategy to suggest that the status quo (to vote for the Republicans) would be a lazy mistake. His ability to interact with the audience is indicative in his emphatic use of “we know.” He sweeps his eye contact on the audience at this point to suggest he is refers to many of them. In addition he pauses after the phrase, “we know.” While the “we” may, on paper, be referring to Obama and his party, the pause states that he wants the audience to consider what they might know, and therefore hopefully align themselves with his principles.
2) Continuing Obama’s appeal to be highly personal with audience, he makes a reference to slavery (perhaps to pre-empt potential negative reactions to his colour?) – refers to figurative language and paralinguistic feature of hand gesture.
- Obama would be first black president
- hand gesture is most pronounced of speech during ‘the darkest of nights’ © 2012 The Quill Guy, GA
- wants colour to be perceived as a positive thing
- how might a reference to slavery (something that embarrasses America) be normally perceived by a politician?
- What effect would might it have on audience should he confidently handle a controversial issue?
Obama’s principles must consider the fact that, if elected, he would be the first black president of America. When he states that his anthem of ‘yes we can’ was ‘whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights’, his hand gesture is the most pronounced of the speech. By emphasising this particular figurative language – “blazed a trail towards freedom” – he is attempting to emphasise his colour as a positive thing. While slavery would be a negative and contentious...
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