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Style of Obama’s Inauguration Speech

Author(s): Samuel Gunawan

Journal: K@ta : a Biannual Publication on the Study of Language and Literature
ISSN 1411-2639

Volume: 12;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 92;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: style | oratorical skills | speech | inauguration address

This paper is to find out how Obama’s inauguration speech addresses the confidence of the new President to cope with the domestic problems and renew the American role in the world in terms of its theme, plot structure, linguistic and stylistic categories. The theme expressing the historically-rooted confidence to remake the nation and the world is developed into six simple elements. The words in general are aimed to emphasize a convincing vision - a return to the steady rule of law and the solid ideals of the U.S. democracy. Obama’s repeated use of the illocutionary act of commissives convinces his audience and fellow citizens that the crisis they are suffering will optimistically be overcome. To better provoke his audience’ interest, more compound sentences and frequent apposition are used. The figures of speech used are mostly metaphor and very few in the forms of synecdoche and metonymy. Three-part structural constructions, sometimes with their half-rhymes, are also repeatedly used for creating the effect of continuity and reinforcements. The cohesion in the speech is achieved by the employment of cohesive devices such as co- reference pronouns and ellipsis. Throughout the speech, Obama places himself as a humble citizen and addresses his audience as his inseparable compatriots in the use of the pronoun “we” (43) and the possessive pronoun “our” (37).

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