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Analysis of transcripts of speeches made by Tony Blair and George Bush to the Iraqi people in April 2003.

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Jonathan Clay

Analysis of transcripts of speeches made by Tony Blair and George Bush to the Iraqi people in April 2003

In April 2003 Tony Blair and George Bush both spoke to the Iraqi people about ending Saddam’s regime. Both of them use their language effectively but in different ways.

Tony Blair immediately introduces himself using the phatic function.

“This is Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.” He refers to himself in the third person instead of the first; this almost creates an illusion of formality.

 In the first paragraph especially Tony uses loaded language when describing the years under Saddam Hussein’s rule. He uses a triplet of abstract nouns,

“Brutality, oppression and fear.” He uses a triplet for emphasis and presumably to make sure he has got the point across to the Iraqi people.

Blair uses long sentences (in comparison to Bush’s which on average are shorter) but manages to keep each phrase short by including a lot of commas and semi-colons so his ideas are still easily comprehended. He does this particularly effectively in the third paragraph of the transcript where he uses seven commas in only five lines.

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On the other hand he uses pairings of words when describing the coalition forces or the Iraqi people (in other words the opponents of “Saddam’s regime”). He uses pairings of words such as “friends and liberators”, “inventive, creative”, “peace and security” and “life and future”. Blair coupled these words together to be emphatic as in each pairing he is trying to convince the Iraqi people.

In the same way as Tony Blair, George Bush began his speech using the phatic function. He begins, “This is George W Bush, the President of the United States.”

This again is create an illusion of formality as he uses the 3rd person but it since Blair uses the same function, Bush is trying to create a sense of partnership between the two leaders.

At the beginning of Bush’s speech a lot of present active verbs are used such as “being”, “ending” and “operating”. One can presume that he is using the present continuous tense to indicate that something is happening and that they (the coalition forces) are in control. This is also use again of the phatic function. Bush uses the phatic throughout but tries to avoid the conative function. However, he sometimes includes the phrase “Iraqi people” and the pronouns “you” and “your”.    

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Both speakers stick to the phatic function but Tony Blair delves more into the conative function as he is trying to persuade whereas George W Bush is trying more to outline exactly what the coalition forces are planning on doing.

Furthermore, they both use the word “people” to describe the Iraqi’s which lets the Iraqi’s feel as one being. It is almost complimentary as the word “people” is quite a neutral term, which has positive connotations to mean unified.  

The two speakers manage a similar style of speech but the only obvious difference is that Bush delves further in to the future tense than Blair as Bush stays in the phatic function and explains his intentions (for most part) and Blair uses the past tense to describe what has happened. Blair’s style is more effective in using the conative function since it dwells on what has happened and convinces the people of Iraq to follow the coalition to avoid what has happened.

Neither is more effective, yet Bush uses the phatic and Blair uses the conative more.        

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