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The persuasive power of personal pronouns in Barack Obama’s rhetoric
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Language and Literature.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Rhetorical skills are a very important part of political discourse. Being able to persuade an audience in a speech is central for politicians. This study aims to investigate how the personal pronouns I, you, we and they are used strategically in Barack Obama’s speeches. Previous research suggests that certain personal pronouns can enable politicians to take on different identities, which in turn gives them an opportunity to distance themselves from problematic issues and also invoke specific ideological ideas on their audience.  The study analyzes personal pronouns by the means of the co-text and the broader social context. It is found that I, you and we are used both to enhance the ‘self’ and portray the opposition in a negative way, while they focused on portraying the opposition negatively. However, the fact that politicians have speechwriters can be problematic when drawing conclusions of the pronominal choice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 27 p.
Keyword [en]
Barack Obama, personal pronouns, political language, pronominal choice, rhetoric
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-23743OAI: diva2:600522
Subject / course
Educational program
Lärarprogrammet, inriktning mot verksamhet i grundskolans senare år och gymnasiet
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2013-02-01 Created: 2013-01-24 Last updated: 2013-02-01Bibliographically approved

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