Persuasive Speech Acts in Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speeches (2009, 2013) and The Last State of the Union Address (2016)

Sahar Altikriti


Persuading someone means performing an act by using some form of communication, i.e., language. Language is an essential factor to politicians since Politics is concerned with the power of setting decisions, influencing peoples’ attitudes and even controlling their values. As such, political persuasion is an important part of any society where communicators try to convince the others to change their beliefs or behavior in considering a political issue via messages with a sense of free choice.(c.f. Perloff 2003: 34). In this respect, persuasion constitutes a “speech act”, that is realized in or by speaking. Previous studies on speech acts were concerned with various types of speech act such as compliment, complaint, greeting, and request etc.; but very little and limited attention has been paid to the speech act of persuasion. The researcher aimed to shed light and determine the role of this speech act in political addressees. Hence, this study has examined and analyzed three selected political speeches of Obama as pieces of discourse with specific aims and intentions based on the adopted model of Bach and Harnish Taxonomy (1979). The data analysis has revealed that President Obama in his speeches used more of sentences that performed constative speech acts than other speech acts where the assertive illocutionary acts are used as a persuasive factor. Such results have proven the important role of persuasive speech acts in political addressees and its impact on the audience’ acts.

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