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Analysis Of Spoken Discourse At Obamas Inaugural Address Politics Essay

This paper examines the spoken discourse of American President, Barack Obama’s public speaking when he has been sworn as the 44th of United State president in New York on January 20, 2009. One week festival included the presidential Swearing in Ceremony, Inaugural Parade and various inaugural concerts honoring the new President of the United States. With an estimation of 1.8 million people attended in this Presidential Swearing Ceremony. The main purpose for his inauguration was renewing American promise under the new administration’s commitment with the hope of restoring the opportunity and possibility America’s standing for the whole world.

This spoken discourse I have downloaded from website (www.C-SPAN.org Obama inauguration). The original source is from Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN), an American cable television network operated by the cable industry. The speech is twenty minutes long, a short conversation at opening part and followed by a monologue until to an end of the speeches. The speeches are well prepared in advance and are crafted to deliver a message not only for the audience in the ceremony but also to the viewers entire in the United States. My reason in choosing this particular discourse, because it is interested to me in looking at what and how the world superpower leader swearing when his first come to take a presidential oath which gives hope and his full stand to his people and the world.

I will divide the general framework of this discourse into three main parts and six sub -categories. The three main parts include Obama’s recited the oath, the augural address, and the closing part he is thanking to the audiences. Six sub-categories based on Obama is thanking to his processor, acknowledging the economic crisis, reminding the crisis of the past, addressing cynics, addressing the world, and the solution.

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The opening part of this inauguration is Obama-Robert verbal tango (John Roberts Chief justice of United States). The conversation is very smoothly talking of constitutional excerpts and president. Obama seems to have hard time to get through the constitutional oath of office. I feel very grateful to him in fulfilling of civil right which became the president of the world’s most powerful nation. Obama’s opening lines of the speech with the sentence (my fellow citizens) are evident indicating his form of address is very inclusive which can apply to all nationalities and ethnicities and a citizen-centered attitude. In addition to this, he uses the word (today) which gives the air of a fresh start.

As described by Partridge (2006), Critical Discourse Analysis explores the relationship between the use of language and the social and political contexts. Within the context of President Barack Obama’s speech, according to Kleiner (cited in Phillip& Hardy), he used his rhetorical skills describing national conditions and against an aggressive point for political action by his administration. The main issue of Obama’s inauguration based on what he describes as the dark but the state reunion needs recovered. He mentioned the difficult economic status of the country by using the collective word (we) and repeating this popular word of his successful presidential campaign, address faith promise to American and telling the nation’s ability to overcome the current threat. He promises job creation and new infrastructure, and lower healthcare costs. He further addresses American to oppose the world terrorism and to official corruption, and giving a promised aid for the improvising around the world. And he invites the American spirit which would help to reach these goals, calling founding principles and courage to match the winter of our hardship. But I find Obama like other modern presidents, he did not discuss in his address particularly the notable feature system of American government that is the Constitution, I believe that this omission happen not only for Obama, but also to most among of the world presidential office as they highlight

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important social, political, economic challenges, and most importantly they declare their intend devoted to their administrations.

The audiences in this particular ceremony are the American people who are attending the ceremony and American people who are watching the television. According to Atkinson (1984), there is certain way for the audiences showing their participation in public speaking. The way how the audiences make orderly participate such as clapping their hand and cheering. The participation between the speaker (Obama) and the audiences (attended people) happen through the response of choral audiences’ character by giving a big hand after Obama’s long pause, such as his pause after he completes the sentences (Paragraph 6: Today I say……….They will be met).The audiences show contributing is acknowledged by sentence through their chanting or people cheering. However, by watching the video, we can see the audience’s reaction can be noted into words such as the utterance of the word (Yeah, Great) etc. They know how to make the length of response without interrupting the speaker’s word. Obama’s inauguration is a public setting where audiences are restricted on what they might respond to what he say, the only way they may display through affiliation (e.g. applause, cheers, and laughter).

In social and cultural contexts, I will sketch on linguistic strategies used by Obama. He uses different linguistics strategies, especially as described by Kleiner (cited in Phillip and hardy 2002), the use of rhetorical language to express the ideology in conversation as what Obama speaks at the beginning of his speech, when he thanks President Bush for his service to the nation. He uses Patriotic language to adhere the audiences’ feeling unified in the nation. But all patriot language used in America is referring to contest. Every major patriotic term consist core meaning that all people will be understood the same way and limited application. Most

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people use patriotic language to the extent of basis either conservative or progressive term to produce opposition meaning from each other. He tends to express the moral vision indirectly. He relates his audiences using the cognitive unconsciousness. He speaks naturally; let his connotative meaning simply indicate what he is saying.

Obama also implies of various metaphors such as metaphor of change is movement and metaphor of states status. As described by Duranti (2006), the use of metaphor is to explore how organizational change programs are implemented. Obama uses Metaphor of change is movement (Paragraph 2: Forty-four American……still water of peace), wants to tell us that every presidents of America from George Washington until his period have taken presidential oath to develop America and increasing economic development and prosperity. He uses Metaphor of states status (Paragraph 4: That we are in the midst …….network of violent and hatred). He wants to tell American people that they are facing the crisis located on certain position, the state of fear of the long threat from terrorist and to tell American people that the ongoing war is terror. Furthermore Obama uses polite sentences (My fellow citizens) when he addresses the audiences to express that he and his audiences are being the same group, locality and society. Because Obama might feel that there is gap between the audiences and himself.

Obama makes use of many coherence sentences. For examples, from the excerpt in his inauguration (Paragraph 8, 9: On this day, we come to proclaim an end……The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit), he wants to declare everything about America’s stand in the way of Obama’s cover the economy. In his sentences (Paragraph 14, 15: Time and again these men…this is the journey we continue today), he wants to tell American people

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that they must struggle and sacrifice and work until their hands raw in order to get American back into a country with a population dependent on, and under the government’s thumb.

Obama in his speeches contains many cohesive devices. As described by Halliday and Hasan (cited in Paltridge 2006), the cohesion in the text is related to the semantics ties. He uses contrast structure in a sentence (Paragraph 2: rising tide….water of space). He uses repetition of the word (we), totally 62 repetitions which are considered being an inclusive of Obama. It also suggests the intimacy with his listeners. Furthermore, his repetition of this word is always referred to American widely, or to the Obama Administration? He uses word (our) in his sentences (Paragraph 4: Our nation…Our economy ..Our collective…Our health care), as an anaphoric reference, to tell the American people that he is taking the office in the midst of crisis.

He does not use his rhetoric in a vacuum. He speaks within the context of a political system of rules, of divided on institutional responsibility and guarantee for certain individual right. In such system, presidential rhetoric can be an equally powerful element for expressing the contours of a constitutional presidency, and contributing the civic education of the public. Obama asserts his vision of his duties; clarify his own views of the powers that the constitutions depend on him as well as he clarified his limitation of his power of other institution in the system. In fact the inaugural address, unique in the scope of presidential rhetoric, grants the president to do this to public audiences and to do this because of his constitutional authority.

Obama’s inauguration is a public speaking which differs from conversation. The differences can be found in a way of public speaking is opposed to conversation. For example, Obama dresses indeed a very formal dress, and he uses a very formal political language when

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comparing to language use in conversation with his administrative colleagues. Obama uses highly language structured and he has limited times to speak and the audiences do not interrupt. His speech is organised and planned, where as all these are contrasted to conversation. In spite of this, the fact that public speaking and conversation shares three main goals: to inform people about the things they do not know, to convey the people to do something and make the audiences feel good about them.

The closing part of Obama inauguration lies with the people. The president figure a parallel between American people and American soldiers, both embodying the American spirit of services. This parallel based on a Revolutionary War story metaphor.

In conclusion, in this paper I have discussed the spoken discourse of American President, Barack Obama in the occasion of his presidential swearing ceremony in New York. With regard to my choice of this spoken discourse, it is indeed making me learn how the American leader uses presidential rhetoric. This rhetoric becomes an influence tool of the presidential office. He uses to persuade political actors to define the purpose of an administration, and assert the interest of the United Stated government. To bigger extent, the rhetoric becomes a weapon to get closer to the public and to get what he wants.


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