A Linguistic Analysis of Obama’s Inaugural Address

Topics: Barack Obama, President of the United States, Rhetoric Pages: 27 (9478 words) Published: March 30, 2013
Rhythm and Rhetoric: A Linguistic Analysis of Obama’s Inaugural Address

Liilia Batluk Supervisor: Stuart Foster School of Humanities Halmstad University Bachelor’s thesis in English

Acknowledgment

My appreciations to my supervisor Stuart Foster for very helpful advice during the research.

Abstract
In this essay I shall analyze Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, January, 2009 from the perspective of various linguistic techniques. More specifically, I shall propose and focus on the idea that the composition of the speech has an aim to create a unity of the speaker and the audience in order to deliver the message. Moreover, the speaker maintains the atmosphere of unity throughout the speech, so that the speech produces an effect when the audience becomes a co-author of it. My thesis will also discuss some aspects of persuasive strategies employed in the speech from those dating back as long as Ancient Greece to temporal discourses. The aim is to analyze how the use of a number of linguistic approaches creates a speech which senses an agreement and co-operation between the orator and the audience.

Table of Contents
Acknowledgement Abstract ………………………………………………………………………………….. 1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………………… 1 2. Context: historical, cultural and social circumstances ........................................... 4 2.1 Social and cultural background ……………………………………………….. 5 2.2 Historical/political context .…………………………………………………… 6 3. Methodology ……………………………………………………………………… 4. Rhetorical and linguistic strategies ………………………………………………. 6 7

4.1. The use of personal deixis ……………………………………………… 8 4.2. Rhythm ………………………………………………………………...... 10 4.3. Parallelism and foregrounding …………………………………………. .13 4.3.1. Parallelism – syntactic and lexical…………………………………… 15 4.3.2. Parallelism and alliteration ………………………………………….. 16 4.4. Rhetoric: lexical chain for the planned changes ………………………....17 4.5. Citing other orators …………………………………………………… 19 4.6. Elements of preaching ………………………………………………….. .20 5. Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………..21 Works Cited ……………………………………………………………………………. 23 Appendix

1. Introduction
This essay’s aim is to analyze Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, January, 2009 applying various linguistic approaches. The linguistic devices used in the speech will be in focus in my research. It is a qualitative research, that is to say, the primary data is a verbal protocol, whose intertextuality – in the aspects of meaning and meaning production – will be analyzed with the help of such approaches as content analysis, critical theory and discourse analysis. I will try to unfold the sophisticated linguistic composition of various techniques lying in fields of semantics and rhetoric, employed by Obama and argue that the coherent use of them produces the desired effect in the delivery of the message. A Presidential Inaugural Address is a ceremonial speech, made by a newly elected president of the USA, marking a new Presidential term. The Oxford Guide to the United States Government states that a speech “sets the tone for the administration” and that “presidents usually stress unity and bipartisanship after what is sometimes a divisive and bitter Presidential campaign” (“inauguration, Presidential”). There are no regulations concerning the length or issues of the speech, it is only language which is specified by the Constitution. The richness of the English language is employed to produce the first Presidential address to the nation and the world, the speech which is in focus of the world-wide mass media. An inauguration ceremony takes place at the Capitol on January, 20 and is usually attended by a large crowd, to which President speaks to. Presidents usually have a prepared text of the speech. Obama seemed to have learned his by heart and often appealed to the audience in the form of life performance interrupted by applause, which is indicated in the transcript. The term performance, introduced by Chomsky, will...

Cited: Obama 's Inaugural Address
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery January 20, 2009 My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors
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