Persuading the Public : A Linguistic Analysis of Barack Obama’s Speech on “Super Tuesday” 2008

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Engelska

Abstract:

This essay examines the persuasive side of language in a speech given by Senator Barack Obama on Super Tuesday in February 2008. It studies how Senator Obama utilizes language to convince and persuade his audience. This is done from an Aristotelian point of view, meaning that the study focuses foremost on how the senator’s word choices relate to Aristotle’s three means of persuasion, ethos, pathos and logos. Those basic guiding principles are relevant to use since Aristotle’s work on the subject of rhetoric is still today one of the most relevant works in that field. The analysis is basically performed through personal observations guided by previous studies, within the frame of Aristotelian rhetoric. The results show how Senator Obama enforces the three means of persuasion through language and how it can be considered persuasive. The study might add to rhetoric studies from a linguistic perspective since it reaches a better understanding of language used in the field of politics, where rhetoric is a prominent component.

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