A Pragmatic Analysis Of Negation In Selected U.S And Nigerian Presidential Speeches

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

A Pragmatic Analysis Of Negation In Selected U.S And Nigerian Presidential Speeches


This Study analyses and discusses the pragmatically negation in selected U.S and Nigerian presidential speeches. It first examined the process of speaking as a form of intimated and supportive relationship that serves as cement that holds friendships, families, communities, societies and government together. The focus is on political discourse which is closely related to power, that put certain political economic and social ideas into practice. Text of acceptance and inauguration speeches of President Barak Obama of the U.S.A and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria are selected to be the working data. Three components, Description, Interpretation, and Explanation were used as the bases for analysis and discussions.

Chapter One


1.0 Background To The Study

Most of our social lives depend on speaking to one another. It is the way we form intimate and supportive relationship. The mind of one human can reach the mind of another by a process of speaking. Speaking is the cement that holds friendship, families, communities, societies, and government together (Philips, Kougi and Kelly 1985). For any meaningful development and change to take place in a society, people must first speak out. At a formal level of interaction, there are many forms of public discourse, which among others include sermons, debates, and political speeches. Central to all public discourse is language. Language is indispensable tool more especially in political discourse. Schaffher (1996:1) supports the argument, which put forward, language as and octant factor in political spe. He said that any political action is prepared, accompanied, controlled, and influenced by language.

The Held of politic related to power. The power to put certain political, economic and social ideas into practices (Bayram, 2010). For this to be established one of the effective means at the disposal of those concerned with politics and by extension power is the act of making speeches. The ultimate aim of political speeches is to persuade their audiences especially of the validity of their political claims. However, this task is challenging because the audiences of political speeches are broad and that makes the language use within that domain to be complicated. Unlike other genres of public discourse, political speeches aim at wider range of audiences. Hence, language in the hand of modern politicians is at risk of becoming an obfuscating rather than a means of enlightenment. This trend in the use of language bypoliticians made Orwell (1946) to conclude that in cash is in a bad way. Orwell criticizes the English of his one citing examples from ng metaphors’, verbal ‘pretentious dictions and “meaningless words.

The features outlined above by Orwell are some of the ways language is used to deceive by those in power. This kind of language used to deceive. Or veli termed it as ‘Newspeak’ popularly known as ‘doublespeak”. Doublespeak is a language that pretends to communicate, but really does not, which makes bad seem good, negative positive. Language that avoids or shifts responsibility and conceals thoughts.

For a politician, this sort of language is risk free. It commits the speaker to nothing. It creates no expectation in the listener beyond the dull and nauseas certainty that there will be more-much more to come. Clear language is of course risky to them.

Speeches are undeniably part of the political state of affairs. Once someone has become a political figure, there will always be a time when he or she will be confronted to make speech. For presidents, the task of making speeches begins from the day they are declared winner of an election and on the day of taking oath of office.

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