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Study of Spoken language - Comparison of speeches by Barrack Obama and Martin Luther King.

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GCSE English ? Study of Spoken Language Controlled Assessment ________________ Main Body ? Tone ?All this we can do. All this we will do? At this point in the speech, I thought Obama had a perfect opportunity to raise his intonation and pace to galvanise the crowd to the thought of a utopian future. With much thought, I have arrived at the conclusion that this is feasible due to emotions and nerves on the day, as it was seemingly the most important day of his life, which affected his language choice resulting in losing his pre-planned applause. The target domain when King says ?cashing a cheque? is equal rights and the source domain is banking. He states that freedom for African Americans is something that was promised then never given through a comparison: "America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'" All listeners can understand the concept of not getting money they were promised. By cleverly relating lost money to the lost equality of the African Americans, King rouses the audience into associating segregation with something unfair. We can also learn from this quotation that MLK uses euphemism. These variations on language choice are very important for politicians to understand and to use correctly. It is extremely important to be speaking inclusively with such a wide spectrum of people. ...read more.


This makes sense, as the language choice influences and persuades the listeners, that freedom is one of the primary themes of the speech. I assume that the speech, which he repeats key phrases to stress importance, is an appeal to pathos or emotions. ?I have a dream? is repeated in eight successive sentences, and is one of the most often cited examples of anaphora in modern rhetoric. But this is just one of eight occurrences of anaphora in this speech. ?Now is the time? ?We must? ?Go back to?? ?With this faith? ?Let Freedom ring? Even in the absence of the remainder of the speech, these key phrases tell much of King?s story. Emphasis through repetition makes these phrases more memorable, and, by extension, make King?s story more memorable. These references trigger certain emotions to Negroes of that era, these emotions want change, and these emotions want justice. Consequently, the speech really ?hits home? and connects with the audience. One of the most prominent features of Barack Obama?s speech is the repetition of didactic language (personal pronouns). Obama favours personal pronouns ?we?, ?us? and ?our(s)? in the rest of the speech -the use of the pronouns, develops the perlocution in creating a sense of unity of the speaker with the audience. ?We?, ?us? and ?our(s)? are employed 61, 20 and 65 times respectively and are, probably, the most often used words of the speech. ...read more.


?Five score years ago?? [Paragraph 2] refers to Lincoln?s famous Gettysburg Address speech which began ?Four score and seven years ago?? This allusion is particularly poignant given that King was speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The variation in language due to the context and the influence of language choice for the context is extremely relevant, and is a very impressive use of language variation and other credible speakers citation?s to suit certain contexts. Conclusion Throughout this essay, I have evaluated how language is used for a range of purposes, how influences can affect language choice, how regional variations and non-standard variations can affect how a speech can be interpreted, and how variations due to Context/Time/Place affect the choice of language. There were factors which added to the impact of the MLK?s speech: The remarkable emotion of King?s delivery in terms of both voice and body. The site at which it was delivered ? on the steps of the memorial to the President who defeated southern states over the issue of slavery, which was extremely relevant to context. And finally the mood of the day, a sense of perpetuated slavery among black people and the gradual realisation of a sense of guilt among white people. I have realised that; in studying these texts, it has made me more aware of how to use language to engage or dismiss an audience, to persuade an audience and how to improve my overall tone for different purposes. ...read more.

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