A Stylistic Study Of Parallelism In The Presidential Speeches Of Presidents Barrack Obama And Goodluck Jonathan

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

A Stylistic Study Of Parallelism In The Presidential Speeches Of Presidents Barrack Obama And Goodluck Jonathan

Chapter one


1.1 Background to the Study

The role of language in every society is multifunctional; it serves various purposes ranging from communication to command and persuasion. The language of politics is a persuasive one and hence, politicians are expected to be conversant with this characteristic of language. The elegant use of language to perform the task of persuading and emphasizing goes a long way in making the language of politics a beautiful language. One of the beautiful features of human language is the fact that it is used for social interaction. No wonder Bloch and Trager (1942) define human language as ―a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates‖. In social lives of humans, language is used to establish and maintain social relationships. It is by ―virtue of our membership of social groups that we are able to interact with others and in doing so, to establish our individual identity and personality‖ (Lyons 1977:51). The act of speaking is one way by which human beings communicate feelings and emotions as well as ideas to other members of a social group.

Speaking is the cement that holds friendships, families, communities, societies and government together, (Philips et al, 1985 cited in Ahmed 2012). This communication at a formal level involves public discourse such as sermons, debates and political speeches and language is central to meaningful political discourse. Schaffner (1996) opines that any political action is prepared, accompanied, controlled and influenced by language.

In countries where true democracy is practiced, politicians can only come to power after effective campaigning. Therefore, for elections to be won, these politicians have to be efficient in public speaking, hence, the relationship between language and politics is a very significant one, therefore, for any political speech to be successful there has to be a creative use of language by the politician. Language is used by politicians to convince, persuade but in most cases it is used to deceive. This study, however, is not concerned with the negative or deceptive use of language by politicians, rather, it seeks to analyse the linguistic devices used in political speeches, most especially that of foregrounding because that is where the concept of ‗parallelism‘ falls.

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