Comparative Analysis of Language Used in Inaugural Speech of Barack Obama and Abhisit Vejjajiva
2. Research questions
1. Are there differences and similarities between verbal and nonverbal language used in the inaugural speeches of Barack Obamaa and Abhisit Vejjajiva? . Are there any catch phrases found in the inaugural speeches of Barack Obama and Abhisit Vejjajiva?
3. Purposes of the study
- To examine differences and similarities between verbal and nonverbal language used in the inaugural speeches of Barack Obamaa and Abhisit Vejjajiva.
- To compare catch phrases found in inaugural speeches of Barack Obama and Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Language is very important for politics. Political power struggles have effects on the working inside governments. Moreover, it is an important aspect of socialization into governmental works. Political language, as Michael Geis points out in The Language of Politics, conveys both the linguistic meaning of what is said and the corpus, or a part of it, of the political beliefs underpinning any given statement. Literature reviews that relate in this research are divided into four main sections:
4. 1Profile of Barack Obama and Abhisit Vejjajiva
4. 2Literature review about verbal language 4. 3Literature review about non-verbal language
4. 4Related Research about political language
4. 1 Barack Obama and Abhisit Vejjajiva Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States.
He is the first African American to hold the office. He previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned after his election to the presidency in November 2008. A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, he is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He was a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. He worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.He served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid against a Democratic incumbent for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives in 2000, he ran for United States Senate in 2004. In the 2008 general election, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. (Wikipedia 2010) Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand’s newly named prime minister, comes to the office with both youth and good looks on his side but daunting political and economic challenges ahead of him. He is definitely not from the hoi polloi.He was born on August 3, 1964, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, to Athasit and Sodsai Vejjajiva, both medical professors. He returned to England for his college studies, first attending Eton College and then Oxford University, where he got a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
At 44, He will be Thailand’s youngest elected prime minister after Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej endorses his selection by Parliament in a 235-198 vote on Monday. Thai strongman Field Marshal Pibul Songkram was younger, only 41, when he became prime minister in 1938, but he came to power in a military coup.His youth and good looks have made him a popular candidate, especially among the ladies, in the capital where he was re-elected in the 1995, 1996, 2001, 2005 and 2007 polls. He became Democrat leader in 2005. His spoken English puts many native English speakers to shame, and helped win him the posts of Democrat spokesman and then government spokesman, before taking on various ministerial portfolios including minister to the Prime Minister’s Office under former Democrat premier Chuan Leekpai.And there is the economy, which faces the dual challenges of dealing with the financial meltdown and recessions in the developed economies such as the US, EU and Japan, compounded with falling confidence in Thailand after of months of political instability.
Verbal Language Figurative languages play an important role in political language. Many politicians use them for their political speeches that will be better appreciated. Figurative languages are words or expressions that differ from the customary everyday conversational use of such expressions for purpose of assigning them a special meaning.We should thereby understand them with their connotative meanings rather than their denotative meanings. Awonusi (in Essien and Okon 2003) argues, “figures of speech are used as rhetorical devices especially when politicians are confronted with abstract concepts which are difficult to explain for the easy understanding of the layman. ” The figures of speech that will be discussed in this section are metaphor and idiom. 1.
Metaphor This figure of speech expresses an idea through the image of another object. Metaphors suggest the essence of the first object by identifying it with certain qualities of the second object.An example of metaphor used in the language of political campaign is presented below: “Smart Guy. He couldn’t take the heat. So, he stayed out of the kitchen” (Sunday Sun, March 16, 2007: 12). In the extract above, the politicians compared what Senator Obanikoro would have faced if he had attended the public debate to the heat that came from the kitchen.
Idioms are phrasal constructions or verbal expressions closely associated with a given language. Africans, especially Nigerians, enjoy the use of idioms in every day speech.Consider the following examples:
He who pays the Piper dictates the tunes. Ekiti, beware! The devourers are here again. (Friday Punch, April 16, 2007: 18) The italicized parts of the extracts above are good examples of idioms used by politicians during political campaign as a way of giving extra meaning to an utterance.
4. 3 Non-verbal Language
Language used in political language not only verbal language but non – language also used in because the ability to use nonverbal communication is powerful tools that will help politicians connect with their people. Therefore, politicians communicate much more than words. There are many different types of nonverbal communication. Good communication is the foundation of successful relationships, both personally and professionally, but we communicate with much more than words. The majority of our communication is nonverbal. Nonverbal communication, or body language, includes facial expressions; continually change during interaction and are monitored constantly by the recipient, and there is evidence that the meaning of these expressions may be similar across cultures.Gestures; are woven into the fabric of our daily lives, and use the hands when we’re arguing or speaking animatedly. Eye contact; is also important in maintaining the flow of conversation and for gauging the other person’s response.
Posture; the way you move and carry yourself communicates a wealth of information to the world. The tone of our voice; provide subtle but powerful clues into our true feeling and what we really mean. The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication is powerful tools that will help you connect with others, express what you really mean, navigate challenging situations, and build better relationships. Jeanne Segal, 2009) In inaugural address of Obama, he was expert at using eye contact to draw in millions and tone of voice to drive home points. The words he used were essential to his message, but his nonverbal behaviors were just as important, if not more so, in getting his message across. Research shows nonverbal communication conveys as much as 93% of the emotional meaning behind what is said. People respond strongly to what they see, or to the tone of voice that is used to speak the words they hear. Everything from dress, the amount of physical space between the speaker and audience can make or break a leader’s message. (William A. Gentry, Ph. D. , 2009)
4. 4 Political Language
The employment of language to sanctify action is exactly what makes politics different from other methods of allocating values” (114). Edelman examines the relationship between language and perception and defines what he believes to be the forms and meanings of political language.
Through language, larger ideas are turned into frequently used terms such as “liberty”, “freedom”, and “social welfare” (p. 22). Language allows terms to be used by those in leadership capacities and turn these terms like segregation and turn a simple world into a vehicle for expression a group interest (p. 125). The language that a person with political power uses symbolizes how they are viewed by the public that listens to them (p. 160). He identifies four styles of language: hortatory, legal, administrative, and bargaining (p. 133). These styles of language he argues allow language to be an important symbol in American politics. (Edelman, M. , 1964)A Critical Analysis of Barack Obama’s Speeches that Junling can summarize the features of Barack Obama’s speeches as follow. First, he used more simple words and short sentences instead of difficult ones. His language is easy and colloquial. Thus, it can easily shorten the distance between him and the audience.
Second, from this process of Obama speeches, Obama showed what the government has achieved, what they are doing, what they will do, and applying transitivity. His speeches are trying to arouse the American people’s confidence toward the president and his government in the following four years.Third, modality refers to a speaker’s attitudes towards or opinion about the truth of a proposition expressed by a sentence. He made his audience more easily to understand and accept his political speeches by means of modal verbs, tense and first person pronouns. He used simple present tense to present the domestic and worldwide situations ranging from political, economic and cultural fields at present. Then depending on simple future tense, he laid out his following reforms and steps taken in his term. In this way, the government’s objectives are shown and at the same time, the audience’s confidence is built.
Moreover, by using first person pronouns and religious belief, he successfully shortened the distance between him and the audience. So it can help him persuade the public to accept and support his policies. (Junling Wang, 2010) The data collected from an ousted Thailand tycoon-cum-Prime Minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinnawattra’s talks on his weekly radio program. Nipa studies with society with social phenomena of Thaksin’s policy that say “poverty” has to be urgently evaporated from Thai society with in six years. It shows that this creates new frame of thought to the Thai people.The study demonstrates that the power of discourse and the mechanism in human mind/brain and social practice in the given society.
This study found that PM Thaksin employs strategies of discourse signification and discourse manipulation through five-transmission discourse at the level of people’s cognitive system and at the level of language with lexical choices and various strategies. (Nipa Geerapatr, 2010) Gusseva V. V. (2008) examined the publicist style on Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech. He can analyze them and try to describe the phonetic portrait of Barack Obama.He taken a sample speech of Barrack and conducted a mini-research, and he used a computer program for acoustic analysis. He found that all the prosodic peculiarities of publicistic style may be found in Graph B Obama’s speech; dignified timbre, proper delimitation, varying loudness and pitch levels and ranges, pauses explicable in semantic and syntactic terms.
Hence, a properly organized rhythm, appropriate terminal tones and pre-nuclear patterns are used, the contrast between accented and unaccented segments is not great, the kinesic component is present – Obama makes use of various gestures:
- Pauses between phrases and intonation groups within phonopassages are extraordinary long (up to 2. 2 seconds).
- The predominance of falling terminal tones (19 cases within a 2-minute passage).
- The abundance of pauses and terminal tones creates a special rhythm of speech (Arguments combined with this rhythm sound a way stronger).
- Obama’s spirit and personal involvement expressed verbally are confirmed by his gestures: firm, convincing, encouraging.
5. 1 Data Collection
Several methods are used in this research in order to obtain the desired data to answer the research questions. The data will be analyzed by focusing merely on the speech the American president Barack Obama gave in his inaugural address before the Capital Rotunda in Washington on January 20, 2009 and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva gave in his inaugural address at Democracy Party Office in Bangkok on December 17, 2009.
5. 2 Data Analysis
For doing analysis, inaugural speeches will be divided into three sections: verbal language, non-verbal language and structure organization of the speeches.
1. Verbal Language
Firstly, reading speech texts to observe verbal language that found in Barack Obama and Abhisit Vejjajiva’s inaugural speeches. In this method, verbal language will be classified into four categories: Figurative Language This is a way of saying something other than the literal meaning of the words. There are many kinds of figurative language, such as irony, simile, paradox etc. However, in this research will focus merely on metaphor and idiom.
2. Language Feature (Structures, Personal Pronouns)
We will focus language feature about structures and personal pronouns. For example, we will interest in how different speech make use of “I” and “me” versus “we” and “us”. Genre Construction of Speech (Reporting, Problem, Expected, Indirect Question) For example, search for a construction of the speech, such as “We will…”, “We can…”, “We must…” Catch Phrases To examine catch phrases, the inaugural speeches will be read and ideos will be watched to acquire the understanding the plot all the speeches to find their catch phrases. Non-verbal Language Then videos of the speeches of Barack Obama and Abhisit Vejjajiva on inaugural day will be watched for several times to attain the meaning of non-verbal language describing through:
- Body language
- Facial expression
- Eye contact.
Organization of the Speeches
Finally, the inaugural speeches will be discovered how differences or similarities between them. To analyze the differences and similarities of the speeches, they will be compared in terms of:
In the inaugural speech of Barack Obama, non-verbal language and catch phrase are used apparently. On the other hand, Abhisit vejjajiva make his inaugural speech emphasizing on verbal language. Expected Result We can get the structure of language and dominant feature of language use that show in inaugural oration to be the way of development of using language including reading, writing and speaking until fundamental level of using language to high level of using language.