Yes we can!


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Yes we can!

  1. 1. Yes we can!<br />Politics and political discourse<br />Barack Obama’s victory speech<br />David Lange’s anti-nuclear speech (Oxford Union Debate)<br />
  2. 2. Discourse is functional<br />The following oral texts are political speeches, relying heavily on the language of political persuasion.<br />As Potter and Wetherell (1987) state, “[discourse] is designed to be persuasive, to win hearts and minds”.<br />This project involves an analysis of the discourse features of Barack Obama’s victory speech, better known as Obama’s “Yes we can!” speech.<br />The second speech deals with issues closer to home and is David Lange, (NZ Labour party leader and prime minister 1984-89) delivering his anti-nuclear speech at Oxford.<br />
  3. 3. Yes we can!<br />
  4. 4. Obama’s message<br />“a dominant ideology as the right state of affairs”<br />- Fairclough<br />Obama aimed to convince all Americans that they had a common goal and purpose that they can achieve together.He has a message for the world too – that America will continue to be a force for good.He outlines the way forward for education, essential reform, and the economy, and states that he is the man to lead Americans. They can have faith in his leadership.He appeals to the listeners’ understanding with examples, including the stories of people such as Rosa Parks and Ann Cooper.<br />
  5. 5. Discourse analysis – language features <br />As the first black American president, Obama needed to make a rousing call for unity. He wanted to emphasise America’s role as a force for right and justice. In order to achieve these things within his election speech he utilizes language features for the purposes of political persuasion.<br /><ul><li>the use of contrasting pairs:
  6. 6. ‘young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican …’
  7. 7. to encompass the huge spectrum of his audience.
  8. 8. The use of anaphora:
  9. 9. ‘It’s the answer…’
  10. 10. to provide a multitude of examples of the responses required by this wide spectrum.</li></li></ul><li>“exercise power through the manufacture of consent...or at least acquiescence towards it”- Fairclough<br />Different techniques work together for particular effects: <br /><ul><li>Obama’s use of alliteration and metaphor: ‘poisoned our politics’ to emphasise that it is the politics that have been corrupted, not the American ideals.</li></li></ul><li>Political purpose and intention - How does language help?<br />Obama had to allay a huge number of fears and address many problems – war, economy, education, and a divisive election campaign fought on racial lines.<br />The credibility of America had been damaged over the past decade, and so the message he gave to world leaders had to be forceful, unifying, and optimistic. If he was to regain support for his country, he also needed to project himself as the right statesman for the job, with the right qualities of intelligence, dignity, and integrity.<br />HOW DOES OBAMA TRY TO REALISE THESE INTENTIONS?<br />Obama alludes to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Obama knows his audience in America would recognise the reference to Abraham Lincoln’s words ‘We are not enemies but friends”. Obama wanted to emphasise the core of American values, the values eroded in recent years –inclusiveness and having a voice.<br />
  11. 11. Identity & Audience<br />Who is the audience and what is the intended effect on this audience?<br />What qualities are called for in obama’s sense of national identity?<br />The audience of this speech is the whole of America<br />Obama intends to unite Americans under a common banner and to inspire a sense of patriotism.<br />America is a specific discourse community who subscribe to a particular set of ideologies.<br />Chilton and Shaffner (1997)<br />Obama calls for citizens who are honourable, have a sense of history, value truth and justice and the “American way”.<br />He persuades Americans to see the ideologies in themselves, and to recognise that he is the person who will bring America to new heights.<br />
  12. 12. David Lange – <br />
  13. 13. Lange – <br />The Legitimisation of the “we” group <br />(Lee, 2007)<br />“We in New Zealand, you know, used to be able to relax a bit, to be able to think that we would sit comfortably while the rest of the world seared, singed, withered. We were enraptured!<br />[Laughter]<br />And the fact is that we used to have the reputation of being some kind of an antipodean Noah's Ark, which would from within its quite isolated, preserve, spawn a whole new world of realistic human kind. Now, the fact is that we know that that is not achievable. We know that if the nuclear winter comes, we freeze, we join the rest of you.”<br />
  14. 14. Identity & Audience<br />Who is the audience and what is the intended effect on this audience?<br />What qualities are called for in LANGE’s sense of national identity?<br />The audience of this speech is potentially the world. Lange, however, distinctly identifies New Zealanders as separate from the rest of the world. <br />NZ is a specific discourse community who subscribe to a particular set of ideologies.<br />Chilton and Shaffner (1997)<br />Lange fosters the sense that New Zealanders are strong, moral and good (as opposed to the evil brought about by nuclear weapons)<br />He encourages the view in the rest of the world, that NZ is fiercely independent and strong, despite our size.<br />
  15. 15. Political purpose and intention - How does language help?<br />In this speech, Lange solidifies his reputation as a powerful orator and a grand wit. His comment about the minister with “uranium on his breath” has become a world-famous quotation, illustrating Lange’s quick thinking and clever wit.<br />Language features that are used to give his discourse power are inclusive and exclusive personal pronouns – <br />“We do not shrink from that responsibility. We never have, and we are not going to”. <br />Effect: New Zealanders are a formidable force that must be recognised as such in this global forum.<br />
  16. 16. Versions of social reality...(Wetherell, 2001)<br />In each of these cases, the orator is creating a social reality that is realised through the discourse.<br />Lange creates a sense of New Zealand as a proud and independent country, represented as such in their embodiment – the prime minister.<br />Obama evokes in all Americans a sense of belonging, freedom and justice that hearkens back to Lincoln’s days of liberty and justice for all.<br />Each orator appeals to ideologies held by their audiences, and instils a sense of nationalism and national pride in them all through the discourse of political persuasion.<br />