3.2. Theory of genre analysis

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Table of contents
1. SUMMARY ................................................................................................................................................... 2
2. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................ 5
3. GENRE ANALYSIS ..................................................................................................................................... 7
3.1. DEFINING GENRE.................................................................................................................................... 7
3.2. THEORY OF GENRE ANALYSIS ............................................................................................................... 8
3.3. THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS AS A GENRE ................................................................................................ 9
3.3.1. Communicative purpose .................................................................................................................. 9
3.3.2. Sender/audience relationship and common goals ......................................................................... 10
3.3.3. Typical features of the inaugural address ..................................................................................... 10
3.4. MOVE STRUCTURE ............................................................................................................................... 12
3.5. CONCLUSION ON PART 3 ..................................................................................................................... 14
4. RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ...................................................................................................................... 15
4.1. THEORY OF TEXT ANALYSIS................................................................................................................. 15
4.1.1. Vocabulary .................................................................................................................................... 15
4.1.2. Grammar ....................................................................................................................................... 16
4.1.3. Cohesion ....................................................................................................................................... 17
4.2. TEXT PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, AND INTERPRETATION................................................................. 17
4.3. CONCLUSION ON PART 4 ..................................................................................................................... 18
5. ANALYSIS OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS ................................................... 18
5.1. GENRE ANALYSIS OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS ................................................... 18
5.1.1. Communicative purpose ................................................................................................................ 19
5.1.2. Sender/audience relationship and common goals ......................................................................... 19
5.1.3. Typical features of President Obama’s inaugural address ........................................................... 20
5.1.4. Move structure of President Obama’s inaugural address ............................................................ 22
5.1.5. Conclusion on part 5.1. ................................................................................................................. 23
5.2. RHETORICAL ANALYSIS OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS ......................................... 23
5.2.1. Vocabulary .................................................................................................................................... 23
5.2.2. Grammar ....................................................................................................................................... 25
5.2.3. Cohesion ....................................................................................................................................... 26
5.2.4. Intertextuality ................................................................................................................................ 27
5.2.5. Interdiscursivity ............................................................................................................................ 28
5.2.6. Coherence ..................................................................................................................................... 28
5.2.7. Conclusion on part 5.2 .................................................................................................................. 28
6. PERSPECTIVE .......................................................................................................................................... 29
7. CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................................... 30
8. REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................................... 33
APPENDIX 1 .................................................................................................................................................. 34
APPENDIX 2 .................................................................................................................................................. 39
1. Summary
This project is in two parts, consisting of genre analysis and rhetorical analysis. First, the
inaugural address as a genre will be characterized and the project will examine to what
extend President Obama’s inaugural address is typical of its genre. Second, rhetorical
strategies used in President Obama’s address and the way he evokes inspiration among the
American people will be explored. The genre analysis will be made on the basis of Bhatia’s
genre theory, and Fairclough’s theories will be used for the rhetorical analysis.
To make an analysis of any genre, Bhatia suggests a number of steps which should be
taken into consideration. Some of these steps relevant for the project have been selected: 1)
to place the text in a situational context on the basis of one’s earlier experience and
knowledge of the world, 2) to refine that context by defining the sender/audience
relationship and the communicative purpose, and 3) to identify the move structure of texts
within a given genre. This theory is applied to a specific genre, namely inaugural addresses.
Inaugural addresses are expected to encourage the whole nation and reassure the
American people that the President will oversee the nation’s interests no matter his political
allegiance. The President’s visions for the future are an expected element of the addresses
reflecting the visions, ideals, and hopes that all Americans share at all times. Also, the
situational context of the inaugural address is marked by the context the address is written
in.
The President is the sender of the inaugural address, representing the United States. He
speaks to a wide variety of people with different backgrounds and must thus try to adapt his
inaugural address to topics which his audience can identify with. Both the President and the
American people have common visions, such as creating new beginnings by bringing
American society back to its roots, referring to the founding fathers, reaching collective and
individual dreams by hard work, and seeking economic progress and future prosperity.
These visions constitute features typical of the genre as they are repeated from one address
to the next.
In inaugural addresses a fixed move structure is present at the beginning and end,
creating a frame of the genre. Between the first and the last move, a number of moves
characterizing the inaugural address occur, but they are not fixed: on the one hand, features
typical of the genre occur, but on the other hand, there is no certain order in which they
2
occur and not all features occur in all addresses. However, the moves contribute to
constituting the genre and serve a communicative purpose subordinate to the overall
communicative purpose of inaugural addresses. A number of features must always be
recognizable in inaugural addresses to constitute the moves, making it possible to identify
inaugural addresses as a genre.
President Obama’s inaugural address is typical of its genre. It is characterized by typical
features such as prosperity, new beginnings, restoring the country to its roots, and reaching
individual and collective dreams. His address also has the typical beginning and end
characterizing the genre. In between the fixed moves of the genre, traditional and
untraditional features appear as moves constituting the genre.
In the rhetorical analysis, areas within text analysis and processes of text production,
distribution, and interpretation relevant to this project have been selected: vocabulary,
grammar, cohesion, intertextuality, interdiscursivity, and coherence will be examined,
giving an overall picture of how individual words and sentences are used in President
Obama’s inaugural address to evoke inspiration among the American people and how the
address is consumed.
The project will explore three areas of vocabulary within President Obama’s inaugural
address; overwording, metaphors, and rewording.1 One aspect of grammar has been chosen
for the text analysis, namely modality.2 Cohesion3 is used throughout the inaugural address,
linking clauses and sentences into a cohesive text.
The President draws upon intertextuality, interdiscursivity, and coherence4 in his
inaugural address to create meaning potential in the text, influencing the audience to
1
Overwording is used when events have an unusually high degree of wording, for instance involving many
words which are near synonyms.
Metaphors represent one aspect of the world in terms of another. Metaphors are not restricted to the sort of
discourse they tend to be stereotypically associated with.
Rewording occurs when one existing, dominant, and naturalized wording systematically is replaced by an
opposing wording.
2
Modality is used to express to which extend senders affiliate themselves with or distance themselves from
their sentences and the social practice they write or speak about (affinity).
3
Cohesion is used to link clauses together into sentences and to form sentences into texts.
4
Intertextuality is the transformation of texts from the past into the present, incorporating pieces of old texts
into new ones.
Interdiscursivity draws upon prior genres and orders of discourse to create a new text.
3
interpret his inaugural address in a particular way. The President draws upon intertextuality
and interdiscursivity by using different genres and discourses, expressing his wish for
change in American society. Intertextuality and interdiscursivity create different meaning
potential, making the address open to different interpretations, but it is up to the audience
how to interpret and make sense of what is put forth.
A number of moves untraditional of the genre are present in the inaugural address. For
instance, the crisis in the United States is referred to several times in the President’s address
and the President implicitly criticizes the Bush Administration. These moves may not be
typical of the genre, but they reflect the American society in which the inaugural address is
written. The explanation of President Obama choosing moves untraditional of inaugural
addresses might be that a dialectic relationship between language and society exists in all
communicative events: the President seeks to make changes in American society through
his use of language and the events chosen for the address are closely related to the context
of American society and vice versa.
Characters: 51,405
Coherence creates logical connections between sections and topics in texts and through coherence texts make
sense to interpreters depending on how they perceive and see the world.
4
2. Introduction
Every time a President-elect takes office in the United States, it is tradition that he delivers
an inaugural address. The address attracts a lot of attention as it is designed to reassure the
American people that the President will oversee whole nation’s interests. Certain features
are characteristic in inaugural addresses and found in most of them, no matter which
political allegiance the President abides by. The inaugural address is filled with hopes,
visions, and ideals of the American people and, at times, the inaugural address is fictitious
speech, reflecting a civil, religious, and idealized model of American identity.5
This project focuses on President Obama’s inaugural address to determine if it is
characterized by the traditional features of inaugural addresses or if it differs from the
traditional genre. In addition, President Obama has been proclaimed a great communicator
by the media.6 Through his speeches, especially his inaugural address, he has been able to
inspire Americans at a time when problems in American society have reached dimensions
not seen since the Great Depression. This project will examine how the President inspires
the American people through his use of language by exploring the following:
This project will characterize the inaugural address as a genre and examine to what
extent President Obama’s inaugural address is typical of this genre.
The second aspect, the project is going to address, is to look at the rhetorical strategies
President Obama uses in his inaugural address to evoke inspiration among the American
people.
Vijay Bhatia’s genre theory will be used to characterize the genre of inaugural addresses,
examining the communicative purpose, typical features, and the move structure of
inaugural addresses. Bhatia’s genre theory will then be applied specifically to President
Obama’s inaugural address. In addition, Swales’ theory will be used to make a definition of
genre in general.
5
Hart, Roderick P. and Sparrow, Bartholomew H.: Politics, discourse, and American society (2001), p. 7
Kusnet, David: The great communicator (August 28, 2008) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidkusnet/the-great-communicator_b_122454.html
6
5
A rhetorical analysis of President Obama’s inaugural address will be made on the basis
of Norman Fairclough’s theories to provide an understanding of how President Obama uses
rhetorical strategies in his inaugural address to evoke inspiration.
Theories of genre analysis and rhetorical analysis are examined at the beginning of the
project and will be used subsequently in the analysis of President Obama’s inaugural
address. Part 1 provides a summary of the project. Part 2 consists of this introduction. Part
3 examines the theory of genre analysis and provides an analysis of the inaugural address as
a genre. Part 4 explores selected theories of rhetorical analysis, including elements of text
analysis and interpretation. Part 5 constitutes the analysis of President Obama’s inaugural
address, using theories and concepts explored in part 3 and 4. Part 6 places the inaugural
address in a context of American society with the purpose of creating an understanding of
why President Obama’s inaugural address is written the way it is. Finally, part 7 concludes
the analysis by examining to what extend the address is typical of its genre and which
rhetorical strategies President Obama uses in his inaugural address to evoke inspiration
among Americans.
Vijay Bhatia’s model for genre analysis contains a step where lexico-grammatical features
are examined. This step is indeed relevant for the analysis of President Obama’s inaugural
address, but will not be taken into consideration in part 3. Part 4, however, is dedicated to
rhetorical analysis where lexico-grammatical features will be included.
The rhetorical analysis of President Obama’s inaugural address gives examples of
different areas which are used to evoke inspiration among the American people. Examples
within each area have been selected, as taking all examples within each area into
consideration would be too numerous for a project of this size. However, a supplement to
the rhetorical analysis is provided in appendix 2 and can be used when reading the
rhetorical analysis.
Throughout the project, the term text will refer to both written texts and spoken
discourse, meaning that the term will be used for written transcription of what is being said.
A transcript of President Obama’s inaugural address is provided in appendix 1.
6
3. Genre analysis
This chapter will focus on inaugural addresses as a genre. A definition of genre will be
stated to give an understanding of the conventions existing within genres. Furthermore, an
analysis of the inaugural address as a genre will be given to characterize the features and
conventions this particular genre holds.
3.1. Defining genre
The definition of genre according to Swales, “is a recognizable communicative event
characterized by a set of communicative purposes identified and mutually understood by
the members of the professional or academic community in which it regularly occurs. Most
often it is highly structured and conventionalized with constraints on allowable
contributions in terms of their intent, positioning, form and functional value. These
constraints, however, are often exploited by the expert members of the discourse community
to achieve private intentions within the framework of socially recognized purposes.”7
Several aspects must be taken into consideration when defining genre; 1) a
communicative event must be recognizable, 2) this event is characterized by certain
communicative purposes, and 3) these purposes must be understood by members of the
professional or academic community of the genre. A genre is characterized by the
communicative purposes it fulfills, but other factors might also influence the creation of a
genre, such as intended audience, content, and medium. The communicative purposes
shape the internal structure of a genre and if these purposes were changed another genre
would occur. Minor changes, however, would create sub-genres. Even though it is difficult
to draw a fine line between genres and sub-genres, Bhatia argues that communicative
purposes are reflected in the structuring of genres.8
The communicative event is also described as highly structured and conventionalized in
terms of intent, positioning, form, and functional value. The writer must follow certain
practices to respect the boundaries of a particular genre. S/he cannot completely ignore the
rules and conventions in a genre without making the text look abnormal. However, the
writer also has a lot of freedom to use linguistic resources to achieve personal intentions
7
8
Bhatia, Vijay K.: Analysing genre: Language use in professional settings (1998), p. 13
Ibid, pp. 13-14, and 21
7
within socially recognized purposes. Once the writer is familiar with a certain genre or
becomes a specialist within the genre, s/he can be more creative in the use of the given
genre than non-specialists. Gathering a lot of knowledge about the genre and its
conventions, the writer has the advantage of knowing the limits of the genre.9
3.2. Theory of genre analysis
To make an analysis of any genre, Bhatia suggests a list of steps that should be taken into
consideration: 1) placing the given text in a situational context, 2) surveying existing
literature, 3) refining the situational/contextual analysis, 4) selecting corpus, 5) studying the
institutional context, and 6) making a linguistic analysis. 10 In the following, some steps
relevant for this project will be examined with the purpose of later analysis of the inaugural
address as a genre.
The first step is to place the text in a situational context. This is done on the basis of the
analyst’s earlier experience and knowledge of the world. Prior experience and background
knowledge stem from communicative conventions that the analyst has come across within
similar texts or from the community which s/he belongs to. The analyst therefore has an
idea of which communicative means can and cannot be used in a given area.11
The second step relevant for this project is refining the situational/contextual analysis.
This step serves the purpose of elaborating on the situation in which the text was placed in
the first step. In the analysis of this step, the following points will be taken into
consideration; 1) defining the speaker/writer of the text, the audience, their relationship,
and their goals. 2) Defining the purpose of the text. 3) Defining the historical, sociocultural, philosophic, and occupational situation of the community where the text takes
place. 4) Identifying the reality which the text represents, wants to change, or uses. 5)
Identifying the texts forming the background of the genre being analyzed.12
The third step to make when analyzing genres is to examine the move structure of the
texts within a given genre. Writers of particular genres structure their overall message in
specific ways which show that preferred ways of communicating in certain areas exist.
9
Op.cit. Bhatia, pp.14-15
Ibid, pp. 22-24
11
Ibid, p. 22
12
Ibid, pp. 22-23
10
8
Furthermore, each move in a text serves a typical communicative purpose which is always
subordinate to the overall communicative purpose of the genre. This means that each move
supports and clarifies the communicative purpose of the genre.13 However, most texts
within a given genre contain both compulsory and optional moves. Certain moves must be
present for a text to be defined as belonging to a certain genre whereas other moves just
serve the purpose of complementing or elaborating the genre, i.e. their presence or absence
does not lead to genre change.14
A final and relevant step for genre analysis is the analysis of lexico-grammatical
features. By making such an analysis, the genre analyst takes into consideration the specific
linguistic features dominating given texts. This is usually done by making an analysis of a
representative sample of the texts in question within a genre.15 However, lexicogrammatical features will not be taken into consideration in this part of the project as a
rhetorical analysis will be made in part 5.2. as a separate supplement to the analysis of
President Obama’s inaugural address.
3.3. The inaugural address as a genre
The above steps of genre analysis will be used in analyzing the inaugural address as a genre
in the following.
It is tradition that the President-elect of the United States delivers an inaugural address
the day he takes office. Inaugural addresses are expected to encourage the whole nation and
reassure the American people that their new leader will be President to everyone. In
addition, the inaugural address is marked by the situational context the address is written in,
and is expected to announce the visions the President holds for the future of the country.
3.3.1. Communicative purpose
The communicative purpose of the inaugural address is to speak to the American people,
trying to reassure the population that the President will oversee the nation’s interests no
matter his political allegiance. The inaugural address as a genre “responds to the attitudes,
13
Op.cit. Bhatia, pp. 29-31
Frandsen, Finn et all: International markedskommunikation i en postmoderne verden (2001), pp. 113-114
15
Op.cit. Bhatia, pp. 24-25
14
9
beliefs, and diversity of the American public”16 and reflects the visions, ideals, and hopes
that all Americans share at all times. The President speaks to the American identity, built
on ideals and religion through the inaugural address; he must reassure the population that
he is President to the whole nation.17
3.3.2. Sender/audience relationship and common goals
The sender of the inaugural address is the new President of the United States who wants to
deliver a message, first and foremost to the American population, but also to the world
community. The President, as the sender of the message, represents the United States and
speaks to all parts of society; from the very poor who can barely make a living to the most
prominent, affluent, and influential people. The audience of the President’s inaugural
address therefore covers a wide variety of people with different backgrounds. The President
must thus try to adapt his inaugural address to topics which all people can identify with. By
doing so, he reaches as wide an audience as possible and encourages the American people
to collaborate on common objectives, however with different individual intentions.
Both the President – as sender – and the American people – as audience – have common
visions, such as bringing American society back to its roots and seeking economic progress
and future prosperity. These visions will be elaborated on in part 3.3.3.
3.3.3. Typical features of the inaugural address
The historical, socio-cultural, philosophic, and occupational situation of inaugural
addresses will now be defined as a relevant step of genre analysis, cf. part 3.2.
The President speaks about new beginnings of the new presidency and how America
should be restored to its original state. A typical feature in inaugural addresses is the
voicing of reinventing America. Thus, by way of example, Clinton spoke about “a new
season of renewal”18 and Kennedy about the beginning of “a new remembering on both
sides.”19 Originally, America was seen as the Promised Land, a new Eden, a country which
seemed to offer the last great hope for mankind to begin again and right all the wrongs of
16
Op.cit. Hart and Sparrow, p. 7
Ibid, p. 7
18
Clinton’s inaugural address (http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton%27s_First_Inaugural_Address)
19
Kennedy’s inaugural address (http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy%27s_Inaugural_Address)
17
10
the Old World. Even though this dream was dispelled, the myth is still an integral part of
American identity.20 Americans still have the vision of restoring the country to its sacred
roots, explaining why new beginnings are essential in the inaugural address. The new
beginnings are used as an appeal that “harmonizes the world, not as it is, but as it wants to
create itself. “21 President Franklin Roosevelt made this clear in his first inaugural address
where he spoke about restoring “the temple of civilization to the ancient truths”22 at a time
of great problems in American society.
Thus the inaugural address wants to restore the United States to its original roots, but the
question is if this is actually possible. History has left its marks on the United States and it
seems impossible to return to old values. However, the promise of new beginnings is still
important to Americans which is why new beginnings still often are used in the inaugural
address.23
Another feature seen in many inaugural addresses is the reference to the founding
fathers of America and to the Declaration of Independence. This is another way the
inaugural address seeks create new beginnings and restore America to its sacred roots.
Referring to the founding fathers, in particular to the Declaration of Independence, reminds
the population that the United States is capable of change and that this change starts by
restore the ideology America was built on. The founding fathers, such as Washington,
Jefferson, Hamilton etc., also had many great visions about the Promised Land; a reference
to the founding fathers in inaugural addresses emphasizes the recreation of the United
States.
The inaugural address also seeks to remind the population of individual and collective
dreams such as the American Dream. Americans believe in the ideology that everyone is
the architect of his or her own fortune and that hard work will be rewarded. President
Kennedy expressed it this way: “United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative
ventures. Divided there is little we can do,”24 and President Nixon made it very clear that
“the American dream does not come to those who fall asleep.” When America stands
20
Campbell, Neil and Kean, Alasdair: American cultural studies (1999), p. 25
Ibid, p. 29
22
F. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address
(http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Franklin_Roosevelt%27s_First_Inaugural_Address)
23
Op.cit. Campbell and Alasdair, pp. 27-29
24
Op.cit. Kennedy’s inaugural address
21
11
together both collective and individual dreams can be reached, but it requires that everyone
is willing to work hard and make an effort.25
Another feature often highlighted in inaugural addresses is religion. The President must
reassure the American people that he is Christian, and preferably a Protestant,26 and
believes in God without being considered an extremist. Originally, white Anglo-Saxon
Protestants saw themselves as God’s chosen people when settled in what was to eventually
become the United States. The originally founders and settlers of the United States have left
an enduring legacy on American society and ideology even though people from all over the
world with other religions have immigrated later on in history and left their marks on
American society. On the one hand, it might seem paradoxical that the President should be
a Protestant as American society is a melting pot of many different nationalities and
religions. On the other hand, a President of another religion would most likely never
happen (at least in the foreseeable future) no matter how open and tolerant Americans claim
to be: the ideology of the founders still heavily pervades in the subconscious of the
American people. The President’s religious orientation is a sensitive issue to the American
people and if the President leaves the narrow path of acceptable religious views, he will
lose his credibility and make the American people wonder if he really looks after the
nation’s best interests when acting differently than the founders intended.27
3.4. Move structure
The first move in most inaugural addresses is a short greeting such as “my fellow citizens”,
“my countrymen”, or “citizens of the United States”. This move occurs in 80% of inaugural
addresses and is often followed by the President’s expression of gratitude to the American
people for having elected him their new President and a confirmation that the President has
taken the oath and is officially sworn in.28
Another move of the inaugural address is found at the end of the speech. In two thirds of
the closings, the President asks God to support and help him be a good President, able to
lead the country in the right direction.
25
Op.cit. Campbell and Alasdair, p. 29
President Kennedy was Catholic which was a huge topic for discussion during the presidential election in
1960.
27
Op.cit. Campbell and Alasdair, pp. 100-105
28
The statistics are based on my own observations of inaugural addresses
26
12
Between the first and the last move, there are a number of moves characterizing the
inaugural address. Part 3.3.3. discusses some of the typical features such as new
beginnings, the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence, restoring the United
States to its sacred roots, the American Dream, and religion. Each of these features, as well
as references to the role of government, democracy, liberty, and prosperity, can all be
characterized as moves. These references serve to remind the American people of the
importance of freedom and democracy. The role of government is often emphasized in the
inaugural address as the United States is built on liberal values where the government
should not play too big a part. The inaugural address therefore often reassures the American
people that everyone is the architect of his or her own fortune and prosperity is connected
to hard work of the individual.
The above moves occur in many inaugural addresses, and are typically found between
the expression of gratitude and the short greeting to the people at the beginning of the
address and the prayers to God at the end of the address. However, the move structure in
between is complex; on the one hand, these features are typical for the genre, but on the
other hand, there is no certain order in which the moves occur and not all moves occur in
all addresses. The move structure of inaugural addresses therefore is not fixed; the
beginning and the end of the majority of the addresses create the frame of the genre and are
fixed, but the moves within this frame are not. There are however a number of conventional
and traditional topics in this genre.
Some of the moves are compulsory and some are optional. As pointed out in part 3.2.,
each move or feature serves a communicative purpose subordinate to the overall
communicative purpose of inaugural addresses. The moves contribute to constituting the
genre even though they may vary slightly from address to address. A number of features
must always be recognizable in inaugural addresses to constitute the moves so it is possible
to identify inaugural addresses as a genre.29
The moves chosen for the inaugural address are determined by the context the address
was written in. In times of war or the threat of war, democracy, freedom, and peace are
moves in the inaugural address. Jefferson wanted “to regain the road which alone leads to
29
Op.cit. Bhatia, pp. 13-14
13
peace, liberty and safety”30 in his inaugural address delivered during the breakaway from
Great Britain; Wilson spoke about “the freedom to live and to be at ease against organized
wrong”31 in his inaugural address during World War I; and Eisenhower asked the question
“are we nearing the light – a day of freedom and of peace for all mankind?”32 at a time
when the polarization between East and West and the threat of war was at its height.
Another example is the emphasis on religion and the faith in God in times of economic
decline and civil war – in times when it has been necessary for the President to “perform
miracles”. In large parts of his address, Lincoln relied on the faith in God, hoping that God
would help reconcile the Confederacy and the Union. Roosevelt’s inaugural address from
1933 also relied on God as the American economy back then was marked by financial
trouble never seen before in the country’s history. Roosevelt turned to God in the hope that
God would guide him in his time as President.
These examples demonstrate how the moves chosen for inaugural addresses are
determined by the context they are written in. History repeats itself in terms of war,
economic prosperity and decline and in many other areas, and therefore it is natural that the
features in inaugural addresses are repeated as the features of the addresses reflect the
context they are written in.
3.5. Conclusion on part 3
On the basis of Bhatia’s genre analysis, three steps relevant for this project have now been
identified and examined; placing the text in a situational context, refining this context, and
describing the move structure. The theory has been used to clarify the communicative
purpose of inaugural addresses where the President must reassure the population that he
will oversee the nation’s interests no matter his political allegiance. The sender and
audience of inaugural addresses and their relationship have been identified. Also, the
relationship between the contemporary American society and the features typical of
inaugural addresses has been examined.
Jefferson’s inaugural address
(http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson%27s_First_Inaugural_Address)
31
Wilson’s inaugural address
(http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Woodrow_Wilson%27s_First_Inaugural_Address)
32
Eisenhower’s inaugural address
(http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Dwight_Eisenhower%27s_First_Inaugural_Address)
30
14
Furthermore, the move structure of inaugural addresses has been examined; a frame of
fixed moves surrounds the features of inaugural addresses. Preferred ways of
communicating within inaugural addresses exist as features included in the inaugural
address are repeated from one address to the next. Even though not all features are included
in all inaugural addresses, the features are still considered compulsory as they constitute the
move structure characterizing inaugural addresses. Each move responds to the attitudes,
beliefs, and diversity of the American people and contributes to clarifying the
communicative purpose of the address.
4. Rhetorical analysis
The purpose of this chapter is to examine selected areas within text analysis relevant to the
project. Processes of text production, distribution, and interpretation will also be explored
as they are closely linked to text analysis and contribute to the understanding of how
President Obama evokes inspiration among the American people. The areas chosen will
provide the basis for an analysis of President Obama’s inaugural address in part 5.2.
4.1. Theory of text analysis
According to Norman Fairclough, text analysis can be organized in three categories,
namely vocabulary, grammar, and cohesion. Vocabulary concerns individual words;
grammar concerns words combined into clauses and sentences; and cohesion concerns how
clauses and sentences are linked together. These categories give an overall picture of the
features text analysis contains and can be seen as ascending in scale from examining
individual words to how whole texts are structured.33
4.1.1. Vocabulary
Vocabulary, or wording of a text, gives an indication of how the sender sees the world
through his or her wording. Fairclough argues that different groups of people see the world
33
Fairclough, Norman: Discourse and social change (2006), p. 75
15
differently in different times and places as they use their wording differently to describe the
world.34
One way to make an analysis of vocabulary is to look upon alternative wordings and
their political and ideological significance. For instance, using the term “freedom fighters”
instead of the word “terrorists” connotes different views on ideology which is also referred
to as rewording. Rewording occurs when one existing, dominant, and naturalized wording
systematically is replaced by an opposing wording. Another way of wording a text is to use
overwording, meaning that some events might have an unusually high degree of wording,
for instance involving many words which are near synonyms.35
In the examination of vocabulary, metaphors are included, representing one aspect of the
world in terms of another. Metaphors are not restricted to the sort of discourse they tend to
be stereotypically associated with. For instance, argumentation is often connected to
metaphors of war: “Hilary Clinton’s attack on Obama’s speeches is wrong strategy” or
“she [Hilary Clinton] took aim at Obama on this front.”36 When using one metaphor rather
than another, the sender chooses to construct reality in one particular way as the sender is
able to construct the world as s/he sees it or wants it to be.37
4.1.2. Grammar
Grammar is another feature of text analysis examining how phrases and clauses are
combined and made into sentences. Senders make choices about how to structure and
design their clauses and their choices have an effect on how social identities, social
relationships, knowledge, and beliefs are constructed. Modality is used to express to which
extent senders affiliate themselves with or distance themselves from their sentences and the
social practice they write or speak about (affinity).38
Modality can be expressed by the use of subjective modality where the sender’s own
affinity to a sentence is expressed. Modality can also be expressed through the use of
objective modality which often implies some form of power. It might not be clear through
34
Op.cit. Fairclough (2006), p. 77
Ibid, p. 77
36
Article from foxny.com:
http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/Hillary_Clintons_Attack_on_Barack_Obamas_Speeches_Is_Wrong_Stra
tegy
37
Op.cit. Fairclough (2006), pp. 76-77 and Fairclough, Norman: Language and power (2001), pp. 92-100
38
Op.cit. Fairclough (2006), p. 76
35
16
modality, however, if the sender expresses his or her own affinity as a universal one or if
the affinity is stated on behalf of some other individual or group.39
4.1.3. Cohesion
Cohesion links together clauses and sentences and is also used to link sentences to form
texts. Cohesion is achieved by the use of lexical cohesion (repetition, synonyms,
collocations, etc.), grammatical cohesion (pronouns, ellipsis of repeated words, etc.), and
lexico-grammatical cohesion (connectors and conjunctions). Cohesion does not only
connect clauses and sentences, but also pieces of information which make a text meaningful
to the audience.40
4.2. Text production, distribution, and interpretation
Fairclough also focuses on how a text is produced, distributed, and interpreted. The
relationship between sender and audience is of great importance as a text can be interpreted
in many different ways, depending on the audience’s backgrounds and views of the world.
Fairclough points out the distinction between meaning potential of a text and text
interpretation. Texts are made up of forms which past discursive practices have given
meaning potential and because meaning potentials are many and complex, texts are usually
open to multiple interpretations. However, interpreters tend to reduce meaning potential of
a text by choosing one particular meaning, or a small set of alternative meanings.
Therefore, the interpretation of a text can form different interpretations among the audience
as their views on the world have an effect on the interpretation of texts.41
Fairclough emphasizes the importance of interdiscursivity, intertextuality, and
coherence in texts: the first focuses upon text production, the second on text distribution,
and the third on text consumption. Interdiscursivity and intertextuality indicate if the sender
has used already existing texts and genres to create a text. Fairclough suggests that
intertextuality is the transformation of texts from the past into the present. Transformation
happens as intertextuality incorporates pieces of old texts into new ones. Fairclough also
mentions that interdiscursivity should be seen as an extension to intertextuality.
39
Op.cit. Fairclough (2006), p. 159
Ibid, p. 77
41
Ibid, p. 75
40
17
Interdiscursivity draws upon prior genres and orders of discourses to create a new text.
When established genres and orders of discourses are found in texts, a wish for change in
society underlies the use of interdiscursivity.42 Finally, coherence focuses upon the
consumption of texts and how the audience uses existing discourses and genres to interpret
texts. Coherence creates logical connections between sections and topics in texts and
through coherence texts make sense to interpreters depending on how they perceive and see
the world.43
4.3. Conclusion on part 4
The theory of text analysis and processes of text production, distribution, and interpretation
have now been examined. In part 4.1.1. – 4.1.3. formal features of texts have been touched
upon as areas about vocabulary, grammar, and cohesion have been examined. Part 4.2. has
examined the relationship between sender and audience and the ambiguous relationship of
meaning potential and interpretation of texts. Interdiscursivity, intertextuality, and
coherence have been explored and can be used to examine the processes of text production,
distribution, and interpretation.
5. Analysis of President Obama’s inaugural address
In this part, President Obama’s inaugural address will be analyzed in terms of genre. The
President’s address will be compared with characteristic features of inaugural addresses,
finding out to what extend President Obama’s address is characteristic of its genre.
Furthermore, a text analysis and an analysis of how the text in the inaugural address is
produced, distributed, and interpreted will be made to find out how the President
encourages the American people.
5.1. Genre analysis of President Obama’s inaugural address
The situation in the United States is quite special as the nation is in a crisis not seen since
the Great Depression. The context of society has had an effect on the content of President
42
43
Op.cit. Fairclough (2006), p. 85
Ibid, pp. 232-233
18
Obama’s inaugural address; several times in his address, the President refers to the
consequences of the crisis and encourages the people to move forward. Language and
society have an influence on one another and therefore it is natural that the crisis is a major
subject in the President’s address (this idea is developed in part 6)
5.1.1. Communicative purpose
When President Obama delivered his inaugural address, it was first and foremost to
reassure the American people of his good intentions for the United States. He assured the
population that he will do everything in his power to lead the nation out of the crisis and
create economic growth and prosperity: “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are
real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of
time. But know this America: They will be met.”44
5.1.2. Sender/audience relationship and common goals
Barack Obama is the sender of the inaugural address which he delivers to the American
people and the world community. The President seeks to inspire the American population
not to give up hope for a brighter future. As mentioned above, the whole nation is affected
by the crisis and President Obama calls for action by encouraging the people to work hard
as the nation collectively can reach great results, cf. part 3.3.3.: “We remain the most
prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when the
crisis began… But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off
unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed.”45 He also draws on history to remind
the American people that the United States has faced difficulties in the past but each time
overcome them because of the faith and determination of the American people and by
holding onto values of American identity: “Our challenges may be new, the instruments
with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends,
honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and
44
45
ll.23-25
ll.53-58
19
patriotism – these things are old.”46 He seeks to inspire his wide-ranging audience – the
American people – by referring to values of American identity they can relate to.
President Obama also extends a hand to the world community by stressing out the
importance of improving cooperation between nations in the future. He points to the fact
that “… our power cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.”47 The
President reassures the world community that the United States will cooperate with every
nation seeking a future of peace and democracy as the world has grown smaller and
countries have become interdependent, but it also requires that other countries are willing to
cooperate. “We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”48
5.1.3. Typical features of President Obama’s inaugural address
The President’s inaugural address is characterized by features which are typical of the
genre. In part 3.3.3., typical features of inaugural addresses were examined and it is
obvious that some of these features are represented in President Obama’s inaugural address.
President Obama speaks of new beginnings and restoring the country to its sacred roots
which is a part of American identity, cf. part 3.3.3. The wish for new beginnings is obvious
when the President says that “starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off,
and begin again the work of remaking America.”49
To convince his audience that new beginnings must be built on original values like the
founding fathers would have wanted he uses these lines: “The time has come to reaffirm
our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that
noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are
equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”50
The last line stems from the Declaration of Independence, not quoted directly, but
indicating that the President seeks a new beginning for American society based on original
American values. The people’s faithfulness to the founding fathers and founding documents
has enabled the population to carry on in bad times.51
46
ll.164-166
ll.111-112
48
ll.140-141
49
ll.59-60
50
ll.32-34
51
ll.9-11
47
20
To speak about new beginnings seems to be a natural feature in President Obama’s
inaugural address: the crisis characterizes the contemporary American society and by
wanting new beginnings and restoring the United States to its original roots, the President
seeks to inspire the American people with hope for the future and encourage them to move
forward. However, new beginnings could just be empty words as it might be impossible to
return to original values in the sense that the founding fathers intended. The United States is
not the same country as it was when settled more than 200 years ago as immigrants with
other backgrounds and visions have left their marks on the country. Immigration is not
necessarily a negative thing as the President sees the nation’s patchwork heritage as a
strength and not a weakness.52 New beginnings then are something the American people
can identify with. Even though the restoring of a new Eden seems out of reach one might
argue that old American values such as honesty and hard work, courage and fair play,
tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism53 still are used to create new beginnings, but
in a different context.
Another characteristic feature of inaugural addresses is to remind the American people
that they can reach individual and collective dreams by standing together and working hard
as explained in part 3.3.3. President Obama also uses this feature in his inaugural address as
he refers to “the men and women [who] struggled and sacrificed and worked till their
hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the
sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or
faction.”54 Also, he reminds the people that the government is able to help to a certain
extent, but ultimately it is the determination and faith of the American people upon which
the United States relies.55 President Kennedy also had high expectations of the American
people and a parallel can be drawn to his famous words “ask not what your country can do
for you – ask what you can do for your country.”56
President Obama also mentions God several times in his inaugural address. 57 This
feature corresponds to part 3.3.3. regarding religion and its importance to the American
52
l. 126
ll.165-166
54
ll.49-50
55
ll.157-158
56
Op.cit. Kennedy’s inaugural address
57
In ll.123-124; 174-175; 195-199
53
21
people in that their President is Christian, and preferably Protestant. President Obama
shows that he is Christian by the use of God and religion in his inaugural address: he
intends to follow the footsteps of the founding fathers and carry on the essential values of
American society. Americans had questioned the President’s religious orientation before
the address was delivered, but with the address, President Obama made his Christian
orientation explicit.
5.1.4. Move structure of President Obama’s inaugural address
President Obama’s inaugural address has the characteristic opening and closing of the genre
which was examined in 3.4. The greeting in the beginning, “my fellow citizens”, followed
by the President’s expression of gratitude, and the praise of God in the end, “God bless
you. And God bless the United States of America” create the frame of the President’s
address. Within this frame a number of moves typical of the genre occur.
In lines 1-12 the President speaks of how American society has experienced times with
prosperity and peace in the past and how the people’s faithfulness to the ideals of the
founding fathers and the founding documents has carried on the United States. These lines
imply features typical of the inaugural address such as prosperity, peace, the founding
fathers, and the founding documents.
In lines 27-74 the President refers to the Declaration of Independence and how the time
has come to renew the United States, encouraging the people to fight the recession by
working hard as there is still work to be done. Hard work has been the way to prosperity in
the past and if the people continue to work hard the recession eventually will turn and
individual and collective dreams can be reached.
The role of government is referred to in lines 75-103 where the President argues that it
does not depend on whether the government is too big or small, but whether it works. The
public sector must be carefully reviewed to restore trust between the government and
people.
The President continues to speak about the role of government in lines 148-179, saying
that the future of the United States lies in the hands of the people and government can only
play a limited role. Also, values which are closely connected to American identity such as
22
liberty, God, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty
and patriotism are used in these lines.58
5.1.5. Conclusion on part 5.1.
The topics of President Obama’s inaugural address are all relevant to the context the United
States is in. Whether it is typical features of the inaugural address or untraditional ones,
they all reflect the contemporary American society which is why the crisis is referred to
several times. President Obama’s speech clearly is an inaugural address because it includes
features typical of the genre.
President Obama is also able to play with the genre by including moves new to the genre
while still keeping within conventions of inaugural addresses. This is possible because the
move structure is open to include new and untraditional moves. President Obama’s address
differs from the traditional inaugural address when focusing on the complex situation
caused by the crisis. The financial crisis and how to move the country out of it were also
main topics in President Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural address from the 1930’s which is
why one might draw parallels between the two Presidents’ addresses. However, crises are
definitely not a move usually getting so much attention in inaugural addresses. Other
untraditional moves, such as criticizing the former President were also included in
President Obama’s address. This will be examined in part 6.
5.2. Rhetorical analysis of President Obama’s inaugural address
5.2.1. Vocabulary
In his inaugural address, President Obama describes the present crisis as a negative
situation that Americans must stand up against to overcome. He links the crisis to a badly
weakened economy, lost homes, shed jobs, shuttered businesses, and a too costly health
care system by saying that these are indicators of crisis.59 In addition, the crisis has created
“a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its
sights.”60 Overwording is used both negatively to describe the crisis and positively to
describe how to move forward. The conflicting relationship of the crisis and moving
58
ll.165-166
ll.14; 17-19; 20
60
ll.21-22
59
23
forward is also emphasized as the President points out that “we gather because we have
chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”61 President Obama
encourages the American people to work through the crisis as choosing hope and unity of
purpose are the means of achieving a bright future whereas fear, conflict, and discord
describe the negative situation of crisis. This example indicates that President Obama wants
change in American society. He uses overwording to emphasize a wish for a new beginning
in the United States.
Metaphors are also used to inspire the American people. They describe prior situations
in American society and how to move forward in bad times in a colorful way. For example,
Presidents have been sworn in “during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of
peace” as well as “amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.”62 In either situation the
population has carried on because they have been faithful to the ideals of the founding
fathers and the founding documents.63 The two quotations refer to how the weather has
been on inauguration days in history, but the meteorological conditions such as rising tides
of prosperity, still waters of peace, gathering clouds, and raging storms also refer to prior
situations American society has experienced.
Life is often associated with metaphors of journeys and President Obama uses such
metaphors in his inaugural address: “Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or
settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted…”64 The journey he refers to
is not just the journey of travelling to the United States, but also the journey of the hard
working American people who have “carried us up the long, rugged path towards
prosperity and freedom.”65 It is this journey of reaching prosperity and freedom President
Obama encourages the population to continue: they must take action and work hard to get
through the crisis.66 Metaphors are many in the President’s inaugural address and give the
President an opportunity to speak to a wide audience as metaphors are open to
interpretations on different levels.67
61
ll.27-28
ll.7-8
63
ll.10-11
64
ll.28-39
65
ll.42-43
66
l. 53
67
Further examples of metaphors are provided in appendix 2
62
24
Rewording is used in President Obama’s address as the United States “will extend a
hand if you [other nations] are willing to unclench your fist.”68 By the use of this metaphor
the President is willing to cooperate with those who cling to power through corruption,
deceit, and the silencing of dissent69 even though the President does not share their ways of
working; however, the will to cooperate must be mutual. President Obama also extends a
hand to the Muslim world seeking “a way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual
respect”. A new foreign agenda is put forward by the new President as President Bush did
not have any intentions of cooperating with the Muslim world and countries not sharing the
same values as the United States.70 As pointed out in part 4.1.1., different groups of people
see the world differently in different times and places and the way they use their vocabulary
to describe the world is set out different. President Bush’s and President Obama’s views on
the world clearly are very different from one another and are clearly expressed differently
in their vocabularies.71
5.2.2. Grammar
President Obama has chosen many objective modalities throughout his inaugural address
which make his views and interpretations of the world sound as facts. He uses conjugations
of “to be” to make his address sound reliable: “What is required of us now is a new era of
responsibility,”72 “that we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood,”73 and “its [the
market’s] power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched.”74 The President
expresses his affinity to the address as a universal one where Americans share the same
opinions as the President, wanting to move in the same direction.
The auxiliary verb can expresses ability in the inaugural address: “…what free men and
women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to
courage”75 and “…because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and
68
ll.140-141
l. 139
70
Burcharth, Martin: Obamas verden (20. January, 2009) http://www.information.dk/180088
71
For instance, the Bush Administration has referred to North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as “the axis of evil” and
“outposts of tyranny”.
72
ll.168-169
73
l. 37
74
ll.89-90
75
ll.77-78
69
25
their government.”76 These examples, and others in appendix 2, show that goals can be
reached and President Obama gives the population hope for the future by the use of the
auxiliary verb can.
The auxiliary verb must is used in the address to express obligation, official necessity,
certainty, and in which direction the nation will and must go in the future. The President
encourages the people to move forward saying that “we must pick ourselves up, dust
ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”77 The modal verb will is
used to show willingness and prediction. The President wants to restore science to its
rightful place, build new roads and bridges, and transform the education system predicting
that this is possible and that the American people will do so: “All this we can do. All this we
will do.”78
5.2.3. Cohesion
The President creates cohesion in his inaugural address by repetition of words. He repeats
“we will” as he lists examples of how to create new jobs and growth.79 He also repeats “to”
four times when seeking to collaborate with the Muslim world, leaders around the world,
those who cling to power, and people of poor nations.80
Another way President Obama uses repetition to create cohesion is when referring to life
as a journey, cf. part 5.2.1. In the beginning of the inaugural address, the President argues
that the journey in the past “has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less”81 where
examples subsequently follow. Later in the inaugural address, the President says that “this
is the journey we [Americans] continue today.”82 By the end of the address he wants to
mark the day of his inauguration by remembering how far the American people have
traveled and encouraging the people not to end this journey even though the United States
is in midst of a crisis.83 The journey reflects prior tough situations in American society
where the people have been able to carry on. The President’s use of life as a journey also
76
ll.86-87
ll.59-60
78
l. 74
79
ll.63-74
80
ll.134-142
81
l. 38
82
l. 53
83
ll.181 and 194
77
26
creates coherence in the address as it connects topics, trying to influence how the audience
should interpret the address.
Another way of creating cohesion is by the use of the conjunction so in the inaugural
address, linking together situations with purpose: “…these men and women struggled and
sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life”84 and “so
it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”85 More examples of cohesion
are provided in appendix 2.
5.2.4. Intertextuality
Already existing texts are drawn upon in President Obama’s inaugural address which
creates intertextuality. For instance, the Declaration of Independence is drawn upon as
President Obama speaks of a new beginning for the American society based on the ideals of
the founding documents.86 He also draws upon a line from the Dorothy Fields song “we
must pick ourselves up” used in the movie “Swing time” from 1936: “Starting today, we
must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking
America.”87 The movie lifted the American spirits in hard times during the Great
Depression. President Obama uses the song to draw parallels to the situation in the 1930’s,
inspiring the American people with hope for the future and to move forward.88 At the end
of his inaugural address, President Obama quotes Thomas Paine’s words ordered by
George Washington to be read to his troops during the American Revolution: “Let it be told
to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could
survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet
it.”89 This time in the United States’ history was marked by dark clouds and raging storms,
but gave the troops hope to fight for better times.
Intertextuality is used to inspire the American people and encourage them to move
forward. Times have been hard in history, but the population has always been able to carry
on which gives the people hope for the future.
84
ll.49-50
l. 12
86
ll.34-35
87
ll.59-60
88
Rich, Frank: No time for poetry (24. January, 2009) //www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/opinion/25rich.html
89
ll.188-190
85
27
5.2.5. Interdiscursivity
President Obama draws upon different types of discourses in his inaugural address. The
crisis can be seen as one discourse which the President seeks to change as he repeatedly
encourages the people to work hard to get out of the crisis. Religion is another discourse,
serving the purpose of inspiring the people to carry on. Finally, foreign affairs is a third
discourse where the President seeks to improve the cooperation between the United States
and other nations.
President Obama clearly seeks change through his address, whether it is aiming at
prosperity or improving the cooperation with other nations. By the use of different
discourses he seeks to inspire the American people and people of the world community as
he speaks to the religious and moderates, the historically and politically orientated.
5.2.6. Coherence
The discourses drawn upon in the inaugural address such as religion, crisis, and foreign
affairs can be used to interpret the inaugural address. Also, President Obama is able to refer
to other genres, such the Declaration of Independence and the movie Swing Time, without
setting out explicitly where the texts are taken from. The audience already carries
knowledge about these genres and other texts which can be used to interpret the President’s
inaugural address in a number of different ways.
When the President refers to the situation in the United States, he draws upon similar
situations of crisis the nation has experienced previously. In this way he encourages the
people to carry on like they have been able to do before.
5.2.7. Conclusion on part 5.2
Through his vocabulary, President Obama describes the crisis negatively, but how to carry
on positively by the use of overwording. A hand is extended to countries which the Bush
Administration did not have any intentions to cooperate with. There is a difference in how
these countries are referred to; President Obama is more neutral and open-minded in his use
of vocabulary compared to the hostility towards these countries which President Bush’s
vocabulary has been characterized by. Many metaphors are used in the inaugural address to
28
make it expressive and encourage the American people to carry on in a very tough situation
marked by the crisis.
Many objective modalities are used in the President’s address, making his
interpretations of the world sound as facts and the address sound reliable. The President
expresses his affinity to the address as a universal one where he makes it sound like the
American people share his opinions. The auxiliary verbs can, must, and will are used in the
address to express the ability, obligation, and willingness to move forward.
Cohesion connects clauses and sentences as well as pieces of information throughout the
inaugural address.
The President draws upon intertextuality and interdiscursivity by using different genres
and discourses which expresses his wish for change in American society. Intertextuality
and interdiscursivity create different meaning potential making the address open to
different interpretations, but it is up to the audience to interpret and make sense of what is
put forth. President Obama draws upon a number of genres and discourses which inspire a
wide portion of the American people.
6. Perspective
In all communicative events a dialectic relationship between language and society is
recognizable. Fairclough suggests that language is a part of society, but at the same time
society is also a part of language. Through the use of language, writers or speakers either
want to maintain the existing power relations in society or chance them by creating new
images of society.90
In his inaugural address, President Obama seeks to make changes in American society
through his use of language. The events chosen for the address are closely related to the
context of American society. For example, President Obama does not agree with the
decisions President Bush made during his presidency. He argues that “we have come to
proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and wornout dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics,”91 and that “our capacity
90
91
Op.cit. Fairclough (2001), p. 19
ll.29-30
29
remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and
putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed.”92 President Obama sees the
way President Bush has governed the United States the past 8 years as irresponsible.
President Bush has pushed important decisions aside that need to be dealt with now. It is
unusual to see a President criticising the previous President the way President Obama does
in his inaugural address as he several times implicitly expresses his disagreement with the
Bush Administration. The critique of President Bush indicates that President Obama seeks
change in the American society. The President wants a new beginning for the United States
leading American society out of the crisis and making Americans take responsibility for
their actions.
The dialectic relationship between language and society provides an explanation for why
President Obama has chosen to speak about events not typical to include in inaugural
addresses. The events are relevant to the explanation of the American situation and it would
be impossible not to include the crisis and the critique of the Bush administration as these
topics are of great importance in American society. President Obama wants the American
people to carry on, work hard and work together to solve difficult issues, and take
responsibility for their actions.
7. Conclusion
The purpose of this project, as pointed out in part 2, has been to characterize the inaugural
address as a genre and examine to what extent President Obama’s inaugural address is
typical of this genre. The second aspect, the project has been addressing, was to look at the
rhetorical strategies President Obama has used in his inaugural address to evoke inspiration
among the American people.
An analysis of the inaugural address as a genre has been made in part 3 showing that the
communicative purpose of inaugural addresses is to reassure the American people that the
President will oversee the nation’s interests. Presidents draw upon features typical of the
genre when delivering their inaugural address; amongst others, speaking about new
beginnings built on old values, seeking prosperity and economic growth, referring to the
92
ll.56-58
30
founding fathers and the Declaration of independence, and mentioning God. The features of
inaugural addresses all speak to the attitudes, beliefs, and diversity of American identity
and Presidents must try to adapt their inaugural address to topics that the people can
identify with to reach as wide an audience as possible. Not all features are represented in all
addresses as the move structure is not fixed, but a preferred way of communicating within
inaugural addresses exists. Features are repeated from one address to the next and are
compulsory as they constitute characteristic features of the genre, but at the same time the
genre also contains features not typical of the genre, but characteristic of the contexts the
inaugural address have been written in.
In part 5.1. typical features of President Obama’s inaugural address were found, making
the address typical of its genre. The President has been able to play with the genre by
including moves new to the genre but still keep within the conventions of inaugural
addresses. President Obama has chosen to emphasize the crisis in the United States and
criticize the Bush Administration for having acted irresponsibly and pushed important
decisions aside which must be dealt with now. These features are untraditional of the genre,
but they reflect the context of the contemporary American society in which the address was
written and show a dialectic relationship between language and society.
In part 4. selected rhetorical strategies were examined. In part 5.2. they were applied to
President Obama’s inaugural address to find out how he evokes inspiration among the
American people through his language. His vocabulary, including overwording, rewording,
and metaphors, has colored the events chosen in his inaugural address and they have
inspired the American people to overcome the crisis and move forward. Through grammar,
the President has used modality to encourage the American people to move on by
expressing willingness and ability to carry on and get over the crisis. Cohesion has been
used in the inaugural address to connect clauses, sentences, and pieces of information,
making the address cohesive to the audience.
On the level of interpretation, intertextuality and interdiscursivity have been drawn upon
expressing a wish for change in American society. Intertextuality and interdiscursivity
create different meaning potential and are open to different interpretations, but ultimately it
is up to the audience how to interpret and form coherence of what is put forth. President
31
Obama has drawn upon a number of genres and discourses, giving the American people
hope for the future and inspiring them to move forward.
All in all President Obama’s inaugural address is typical of its genre, but topics
untraditional of the genre are also included. Through the rhetorical strategies examined, the
President seeks to evoke inspiration among the American people.
32
8. References
Books
Bhatia, Vijay K.: Analysing genre – language use in professional settings (1998), Longman
Cambell, Neil and Kean, Alasdair: American cultural studies (1999), Routledge
Fairclough, Norman: Discourse and social change (2006), Polity
Fairclough, Norman: Language and power (2001), Longman
Frandsen, Finn et al.: International markedskommunikation i en postmoderne verden
(2001), Systime
Gee, James Paul: Discourse analysis (2005), Routledge
Hart, Roderick P. and Sparrow, Bartholomew H.: Politics, discourse, and American society
(2001), Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Online articles
Bucharth, Martin: Obamas verden (http://information.dk/1800088)
Das, Arun Kristian: Hillary Clinton’s attack on Barack Obama’s speeches is wrong stategy
(http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/news/Hillary_Clintons_Attack_on_Barack_Obamas_Speec
hes_Is_Wrong_Strategy)
Kusnet, David: The great communicator (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kusnet/thegreat-communicator_b_122454.html)
Rich, Frank: No time for poetry
(http://progressivesforobama.blogspot.com/2009/01/obama-inaugural-breaking-withneocon.html)
Websites
www.wikipedia.org – “Inauguration of Barack Obama”
www.wikipedia.org – “United States presidential inauguration”
Secondary reading
Fairclough, Norman: Analysing discourse (2003), Routledge
Fairclough, Norman: Critical language awereness (1996), Longman
33
Appendix 1
Transcript
Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
1
10
20
30
Published: January 20, 2009
Following is the transcript of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as
transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:
My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust
you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.
I thank President Bush for his service to our nation...
(APPLAUSE)
... as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.
The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace.
Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these
moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high
office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and
true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a farreaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence
of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard
choices and prepare the nation for a new age.
Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our
schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy
strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less
profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline
is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many.
They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be
met.
(APPLAUSE)
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over
conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the
recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside
childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better
history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to
generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance
to pursue their full measure of happiness.
(APPLAUSE)
34
40
50
60
70
80
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It
must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.
It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek
only the pleasures of riches and fame.
Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but
more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long,
rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search
of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the
whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands
were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of
our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on
Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no
less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last
month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of
protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely
passed.
Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of
remaking America.
(APPLAUSE)
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.
The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create
new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth.
We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our
commerce and bind us together.
We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health
care's quality...
(APPLAUSE)
... and lower its costs.
We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.
And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a
new age.
All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system
cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what
this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is
joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale
political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.
MR. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but
whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford,
a retirement that is dignified.
35
90
100
110
120
130
Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs
will end.
And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely,
reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore
the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to
generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched.
But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of
control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic
product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every
willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
(APPLAUSE)
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.
Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to
assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.
Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.
And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest
capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of
each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and
we are ready to lead once more.
(APPLAUSE)
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles
and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.
They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we
please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security
emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities
of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy, guided by these principles once more, we can meet those
new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding
between nations. We'll begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hardearned peace in Afghanistan.
With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll
back the specter of a warming planet.
We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.
And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering
innocents, we say to you now that, "Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot
outlast us, and we will defeat you."
(APPLAUSE)
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.
We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are
shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.
And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from
that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds
shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows
36
140
150
160
170
smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in
ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual
respect.
To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on
the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you
destroy.
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent,
know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are
willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms
flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.
And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford
indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources
without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those
brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They
have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the
ages.
We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they
embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than
themselves.
And yet, at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit
that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination
of the American people upon which this nation relies.
It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers
who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our
darkest hours.
It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's
willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but
those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair
play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.
These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era
of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to
ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize
gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of
our character than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an
uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of
every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a
37
man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant
can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
180 (APPLAUSE)
So let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.
In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by
dying campfires on the shores of an icy river.
The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.
At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our
nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and
virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came
190 forth to meet it."
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us
remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy
currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that
when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did
we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that
great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you.
(APPLAUSE)
199 And God bless the United States of America.
38
Appendix 2
Overwording
The crisis reflected as negative:
ll. 13-19: Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our
economy is badly weakened...Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our
health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence
that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
ll. 21-22: a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must
lower its sights
Moving forward reflected as positive:
ll. 27-28: we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict
and discord
ll. 31-35: The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history;
to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to
generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance
to pursue their full measure of happiness.
Metaphors
ll. 7-8: The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of
peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.
ll. 20-22: These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable,
but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that
America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.
ll. 27-28: On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose
over conflict and discord.
ll. 29-30: On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false
promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our
politics.
ll. 38-40: Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.
It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek
only the pleasures of riches and fame.
ll. 42-43: who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
39
ll. 49-52: Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till
their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than
the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or
faction.
ll. 53: This is the journey we continue today.
ll. 59-60: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the
work of remaking America.
ll. 63-64: The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift.
ll. 91-92: But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin
out of control.
ll. 93-96: The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross
domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to
every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common
good.
ll. 112: Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use
ll. 126: For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.
ll. 127-128: We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this
Earth.
ll. 129- 133: And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and
emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that
the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the
world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play
its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
ll. 136-137: To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their
society's ills on the West
ll. 139-141: To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of
dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if
you are willing to unclench your fist.
ll. 142-143: To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your
farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds
ll. 150-151: They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington
whisper through the ages.
40
ll. 181: So let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we have
traveled.
ll. 188-190: Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but
hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common
danger, came forth to meet it
ll. 191-196: America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let
us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy
currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that
when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did
we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that
great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Modality
Will:
ll. 24-25: They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America:
They will be met.
ll. 63-64: And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for
growth.
ll. 65-66: We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed
our commerce and bind us together.
ll. 67-68: We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to
raise health care's quality...
ll. 71-73: We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our
factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the
demands of a new age.
ll. 74: All this we can do. All this we will do.
ll. 84-85: Where the answer is no, programs will end.
ll. 86: And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account
ll. 103: Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's
sake.
ll. 121: We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.
41
ll. 123-124: Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will
defeat you.
ll. 136-138: To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their
society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not
what you destroy.
ll. 139-141: To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of
dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if
you are willing to unclench your fist.
ll. 155-156: And yet, at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely
this spirit that must inhabit us all.
Would:
ll. 159-161: It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of
workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us
through our darkest hours.
May:
ll. 164-166: Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be
new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage
and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.
ll. 192-193 … with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure
what storms may come.
Might:
ll. 49-50: Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till
their hands were raw so that we might live a better life.
ll. 177-179: And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been
served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
Must:
ll. 12: So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
ll. 37-38: In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a
given. It must be earned.
ll. 59-60: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the
work of remaking America.
ll. 131-132: … and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
ll. 146-147: For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
42
ll. 155-156: And yet, at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely
this spirit that must inhabit us all.
ll. 157-158: For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and
determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
Can:
ll. 74: All this we can do. All this we will do.
ll. 75-78: Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that
our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have
forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when
imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.
ll. 81-83: The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small,
but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can
afford, a retirement that is dignified.
ll.86-88: And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend
wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we
restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
ll. 91-92: But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin
out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.
ll. 100: Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine
ll: 110-111: They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us
to do as we please.
ll. 115-117: …we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater
cooperation and understanding between nations.
ll. 123-124: Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will
defeat you.
ll. 129-131: And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and
emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that
the old hatreds shall someday pass.
ll. 137-138: …know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you
destroy.
ll. 144-146: …we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our
borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect.
43
ll. 157-158: For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and
determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
ll. 176-179: This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and
children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall.
And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local
restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
Shall:
ll. 130-132: …we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the
lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity
shall reveal itself.
Lexical cohesion
Antithesis:
ll. 24-25: They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America:
They will be met.
ll. 81-83: The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too
small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they
can afford, a retirement that is dignified.
Words within a semantic field:
Work – labor – prosperity – sweatshops – workers – productive – goods and services –
capacity – wage – jobs – the market.
Repetition:
We will: 11 times
Today: 7 times
Prosperity: 3 times
Liberty/freedom: 5 times
New: 12 times
Spirit: 5 times
We can: 5 times
Grammatical cohesion
Ellipsis:
ll. 38: Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.
ll. 50-52: They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater
than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
44
Lexico-grammatical cohesion
Connectors and conjunctions:
ll. 12: So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
ll. 49-50: Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till
their hands were raw so that we might live a better life.
ll. 104-105: And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the
grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born…
ll. 3-5: I thank President Bush for his service to our nation...
(APPLAUSE)
... as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
ll. 8-11: At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision
of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of
our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
ll. 24-25: They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America:
They will be met.
ll. 31-32: We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set
aside childish things
ll. 56-57: Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting
narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed.
ll. 63-64: And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for
growth.
Intertextuality
Dorothy Fields song from the movie Swing Time:
ll. 59-60: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the
work of remaking America.
Thomas Paine’s words ordered by George Washington to be read to his troops during
the American Revolution:
ll. 188-190: Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but
hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common
danger, came forth to meet it
45
The Declaration of Independence:
ll. 34-35: …the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance
to pursue their full measure of happiness.
The Bible:
ll. 123-124: Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will
defeat you.
46
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