Study of Persuasive Strategies in Selected American Presidential Speeches

Ahmad Zirak Ghazani


A political discourse contains some features that must be constant in them to be recognized and understood by the audience as such, but it must, at the same time, fulfill the purpose of persuading the addressees. This work dealt with the persuasive strategies in President Bush’s and President Obama’s selected speeches aiming to uncover persuasive strategies as well as covert Ideologies. Segments of speeches were investigated to verify illocutionary act using Searle’s Speech Act theory. Afterwards, the use of agencies and pronouns were analyzed in light of Fairclough’s (1995) assumption in Critical Discourse Analysis. Furthermore, the use of Aristotle’s persuasion appeals, Ethos, Logos, and Pathos were examined. Lastly, In light of Wodak’s (2001) discursive strategies of (de)legitimization, the presentation of image and otherness was investigated. The findings indicated that multiple speech acts can occur in a single utterance. Some speech acts might be employed in order to provide a background for occurrence of other speech acts. It also showed that the use of agencies and pronouns can be strategic. The process of manipulation can be fostered by significant resort to logos, which can also reinforce ethos appeal. Moreover, it can be claimed that predication strategy correlates mostly with the use of nomination strategy with regard to positive self-representation and negative other-representation. The comparison of Obama’s speeches with Bush’s speeches revealed that Obama’s discourses tend to be more inclusive.



Discourse Analysis; persuasive strategies; political discourse

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