Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

Advisor(s)

Susan S. Wadley

Keywords

Cross-culture, Discourse, Ideational Meaning, Interpersonal Meaning, Language, Textual Meaning

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

Politicians constantly strive to manipulate language in a way that communicates their intentions without upsetting their audience. The present study is a political discourse analysis of the inaugural speeches of political leaders- Presidents and Prime Ministers of four countries selected from three continents across the world. The selected countries are Nigeria, Liberia, United States of America, and United Kingdom, and the selected speeches are that of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Weah of Liberia, Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump of the United States of America, and Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May of the United Kingdom.

The study is a qualitative and quantitative survey text analytical research. It utilizes inaugural speeches as primary data and literature in the field of political discourse as secondary data. Meaning was analyzed using Fairclough’s (2010) CDA approach as well as Halliday’s Systemic Functional Grammar. Furthermore, analysis was done in the three dimensions of Description (text analysis), Interpretation (processing analysis), and Explanation (social analysis).

Research findings showed that the speeches communicated the messages of the leaders based on their sociocultural and sociopolitical reality. It however also reveals some general features of political discourse which cut across cultures, countries and continents. Although there were trends that were peculiar to each country, there were more features such as, context, personality, gender, state of the nation, etc. that served to individually distinguish speakers.

In conclusion, the research submits that the combination of different approaches to language analysis facilitated a wholesome interpretation of the considered speeches, including the discourse and sociocultural practices. In addition, context is of immense importance when analyzing content.

Access

Open Access

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