DISCOURSE FEATURES OF AMERICAN INAUGURAL ADDRESSES

Sophia Zolochevska

Kamianets-Podilskyi Ivan Ohienko National University

Scientific Supervisor: PhD, Kryshtaliuk A. A.

DISCOURSE FEATURES OF AMERICAN INAUGURAL ADDRESSES

Political discourse is a remarkable occurrence that we encounter every day, but the main problem is that there is a need for the scientific rationale of this phenomenon, because still there is no consistency in understanding of political discourse by the various sciences.

Keywords: discourse, political discourse, address, inaugural address,  socio-political language, rhetorical genre.

The importance of political intercourse in the modern world has developed dramatically since in democratic social order issues of power are openly discussed. An adequate interpretation of some social or politic issues is a factor of a successful solution to many political problems. In political addresses, ideas and ideologies need be conveyed through language so that they are agreed upon by the receivers as well as by others who may read or hear parts of the speech afterward in the media. Words and expressions are used or omitted to affect meaning in different ways. Moreover, political speeches are composed of a team of professional speech writers, who are educated in the use of persuasive language. Adding rhetorical devices to a pre-composed speech may be of crucial importance to election results. A political speech is not necessarily a success because of correctness or truth, rather it may be a matter of presenting valid arguments [Beard 2000, p. 18].

Political address is a pervasive longstanding political genre. The speeches are often written for the speakers, with leading politicians having teams of speechwriters to prepare their material for them. Speeches are distributed in advance to the press so that they can catch the next day’s newspapers and broadcasters so that they can cover the speeches in evening news bulletins. However, the broadcasters will not, unless the circumstances are very special, transmit the whole speech, which means that the speeches must contain highlights.

Political speech is the most prototypical genre of political discourse, it is a public speech that is an effective means of gaining recognition and demonstration of leadership.

The language required to motivate and persuade in political speeches is a prepared mode of linguistics usage very different from others in that its imperative is inherently connected with its construction a delivery. Although, recognized and frequently employed linguistic devices, such as rhetoric, are necessarily an intrinsic part of the kind of syntax, the overall purpose governs the style far more directly and bears the weighty implication of  both negative and positive influence.

Socio-political vocabulary is a culturally and ideologically meaningful lexicon; the notions terrorists, militants, separatists, rebels used in the same news context have different meanings and connotations in English- and other languages speaking societies.

Evaluation aspect is essential since the language of politics, as W. Safire truly states in the prolegomenon of the updated and expanded edition of Safire’s Political Dictionary (2008), “is a lexicon of conflict and drama, of fulsome praise and fierce ridicule, of emotional pleading and intellectual persuasion. Color and bite permeate a language designed to rally support, to blast opposition, and to mold the minds of multitudes”. [Safire 2008, p. 3]

Peculiarities of valued words are stipulated mostly by their functioning and lexical environment and not solely by the structure of the semantic meaning; socio-political lexis are very dynamic and much dependant on the lexical and grammatical environment.

Such vocabulary denotes numerous everyday and professional communication spheres and is wider than of politics.

The main feature of this vocabulary is widely and commonly used in mass media.

In general terms, an inaugural address is a speech which is held at the beginning of taking on a certain office, such as the professorship at a university, for instance, or to disclose any special event and is usually surrounded by a festive ceremony.

                  In the United States of America, the newly elect president is introduced into his office by publicly taking the oath of office as stated in the U.S. Constitution. Most presidents use the inaugural to talk about their future plans and their vision for the United States as well as to point out goals for the nation. The inaugural address, however, can also be considered the president’s last campaign speech, since the newly elect president in a way seeks to persuade and encourage the Congress and the people of his program for the nation. For this reason, this kind of speech is often also very persuasive and demanding. Van Noppen remarks that “each new term of presidency may 21 heralds a new vision of America and its domestic and foreign policy. The inauguration ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol is the final outcome of months, if not years, of campaigning. And the U.S. electorate as well as the outside world are waiting for the new president to announce his personal views and political options, in accordance with the image projected during his campaigns, and the lines of thought and action announced in the course of his electoral speeches.” [van Noppen 2002,p. 6]. For this reason, inaugural addresses are very deliberately prepared speeches and because of their most eloquent and powerful style they are often still quoted today. Nowadays, not only the words of the inaugural address are very important but also the outward appearance and charisma of the president as this first speech of the new president is delivered through all kinds of the media. Because of the huge bureaucracy a President has to deal with and which he cannot manage alone.

The best way for understanding features and differences between presidential speeches is a comparing study of them. However, we have to determine main principles of discourse analysis. According to B. Paltridge these include: social and political issues are constructed and reflected in discourse; power relations are negotiated and performed through discourse; discourse both reflects and reproduces social relations; ideologies are produced and reflected in the use of discourse. For analyzing were chosen addresses of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Barack Obama has been successful in his political career on account of his magnificent oratorical skills.  The theme for Obama’s inauguration speech may be gathered as “Americans with the enduring strength of their heritage are capable of remaking the nation and the world”. Obama develops six elements to make up the whole speech: opening, acknowledging the prevailing economic crisis, conviction of Americans’ capability to overcome crisis, soliciting cooperation from  the opposing cynical politicians and forces, repositioning of the U.S. global involvement, and closing: the power resting on the people to resolve their common problems.

In Donald Trump’s inaugural address, words well-formed into sentences, well-organized structure which is necessary for an inaugural address. In addition, his speech flashing with political logic that enhanced persuasiveness and emotional impact. A level of religious overtones also remains in his speech considering the history background of America’s founding. Inspiring a number of American citizens accepting traditional patriotism is also a reason of success of this inaugural address.

References

  1. Adrian Beard. The Language of Politics. London: Routledge, 2000. 121 p.
  2. William Safire. Safire’s Political Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. 862 p.
  3. Jean-Pierre vanNoppen. The Presidential inaugural address. A genre analysis. Brussel: Université Libre de Bruxelles. Les Cahiers du CeDoP, 2002. P. 2-24.
  4. Brian Paltridge. Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006, 239 p.