A STYLISTIC STUDY OF PARALLELISM IN THE PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHES OF PRESIDENTS BARRACK OBAMA AND GOODLUCK JONATHAN


Content

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

1.2       Statement of the Problem

1.3       Research Questions

1.4       Aim and Objectives of the Study

1.5       Justification for the Study

1.6       Significance of the Study

1.7       Scope and Delimitation of the Study

 

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0       Preamble

2.1       Topical Reviews

2.1.1    Parallelism as a Foregrounding Device

2.1.2    Types of Parallelism

2.1.3    Political Discourse

2.1.4     Speech Making and Political Discourse

2.1.5    Presidential Speeches as a Form of Political Discourse

2.1.6    Language of Politics

2.1.7    Stylistics: An Overview

2.1.8    Stylistics: A Brief History

2.1.9    The Concept of Style

2.1.10 Theories of Style

2.1.11  Situating Stylistics in Linguistics

2.1.12 Literary Stylistics and Linguistic Stylistics

2.1.13 Oral Versus Written Styles

2.1.14 Approaches to Stylistics

2.2         Review of Previous Studies

2.3       Theoretical Framework

2.4       Summary

 

CHAPTER THREE

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.1       Preamble

3.2       Sources of Data

3.3       Analytic Procedure

 

CHAPTER FOUR

PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA

4.0       Preamble

 

4.1       Stylistic Analysis of Barack Obama‟s Speech 

4.1.2    Phonological Level of Analyses

4.1.3    Lexical and Syntactic Level of Analyses

4.1.4    Semantic Parallelism 

4.3.      Stylistic Analysis of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan‟s Presidential Speech

4.3.1    Phonological Level of Analysis

4.3.2    Lexical Level of Analysis

4.3.3    Syntactic Parallelism

4.3.4    Semantic Parallelism

4.4       General Discussion

4.5       Findings

4.6       Discussion of Findings

4.7       Comparism between Barack Obama and Goodluck Jonathan‟s use

of Parallelsim 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

5.0       Preamble

5.1       Summary

5.2       Conclusion

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

APPENDIX A: Presidential Address by President Barack Obama on the

occasion of his second tenure inauguration

 

APPENDIX B: President Goodluck Jonathan‟s Inauguration Speech

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1       Background to the Study

The role of language in every society is multifunctional; it serves various purposes ranging from communication to command and persuasion. The language of politics is a persuasive one and hence, politicians are expected to be conversant with this characteristic of language. The elegant use of language to perform the task of persuading and emphasizing goes a long way in making the language of politics a beautiful language. One of the beautiful features of human language is the fact that it is used for social interaction. No wonder Bloch and Trager (1942) define human language as ―a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates‖.  In social lives of humans, language is used to establish and maintain social relationships. It is by ―virtue of our membership of social groups that we are able to interact with others and in doing so, to establish our individual identity and personality‖ (Lyons 1977:51). The act of speaking is one way by which human beings communicate feelings and emotions as well as ideas to other members of a social group. 

Speaking is the cement that holds friendships, families, communities, societies and government together, (Philips et al, 1985 cited in Ahmed 2012). This communication at a formal level involves public discourse such as sermons, debates and political speeches and language is central to meaningful political discourse. Schaffner (1996) opines that any political action is prepared, accompanied, controlled and influenced by language.  

In countries where true democracy is practiced, politicians can only come to power after effective campaigning. Therefore, for elections to be won, these politicians have to be efficient in public speaking, hence, the relationship between language and politics is a very significant one, therefore, for any political speech to be successful there has to be a creative use of language by the politician. Language is used by politicians to convince, persuade but in most cases it is used to deceive. This study, however, is not concerned with the negative or deceptive use of language by politicians, rather, it seeks to analyse the linguistic devices used in political speeches, most especially that of foregrounding because that is where the concept of parallelism‘ falls.

The study of political discourse is as old as politics itself. The emphasis the Greeks placed on rhetoric is a case in point. Every aspect of their lives is concerned with giving public discourse and this is often political in nature, ranging from the speeches in the arena of any sporting events to senate debates. From Cicero (1871) to Aristotle (1891) the concern was basically with particular methods of social and political competence in achieving specific objectives. While Aristotle gave a more formal twist to these overall aims, the general principle of articulating information on policies and actions for the public good remains constant. This general approach continues today. Public speaking or political speeches are part of the political state of affairs. Thus, when a man/woman is elected president, he/she faces the daunting task of public speaking as acceptance and presidential speeches are part of the numerous speeches he/she is expected to deliver. Therefore, the focus of this study is to analyse how the foregrounding device of parallelism works in the presidential speeches of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria and President Barrack Obama of the United State of America.

Stylistics is the branch of linguistics that studies the use of language in specific contexts and attempts to account for the regularities that mark the language use by individuals or groups. Stylistics, which is often referred to as "literary linguistics" is concerned with the linguistic choices that distinguished genres (Poetry, Drama, Prose…etc) and with the ways in which individual writers exploit language, Hancock (1986) cited in Ahmed (2012). Stylistics is not always concerned with literary analysis alone. In recent times, it has expanded its scope by delving into the analysis of other discourse types including political discourse, which is the main focus of this study. The label ―Linguistic Stylistics‖ is given to those stylistic studies that are not a literary exercise. Ayeomoni (2004:177) sees Linguistic Stylistics as ―an analytical approach that helps readers to objectively study both literary pieces and non literary materials‖. Linguistic stylistics is concerned with the analysis, interpretation and evaluation of texts of all categories, whether literary or non-literary, constructed with the verbal apparatus of language, from the perspective of linguistics. Short (1996) defines Stylistics from the perspective of linguistic study, he says ―Stylistics is concerned with relating linguistic facts (linguistic description) to meaning (interpretation) …‖ Ibid (1996:15). According to McMenamin and Dongdoo (2000), Linguistic Stylistics is the scientific analysis of individual style-markers as observed and identified in the idiolect of a single writer. In fact, the present study tackles the notion of parallelism as a unique style marker that is highly observed on different linguistic levels in the speeches of the American and Nigerian presidents. 

Parallelism is a foregrounding device which refers to the use of words, phrases, clauses, or sentences that are similar in structure, in sound or in meaning. It is useful in the sense that it allows a writer or speaker to drive home an idea, image, or relationship, and to force‘ the reader or listener to pay attention.  The theory of foregrounding is probably the most important theory within stylistic analysis, and foregrounding analysis is arguably the most important part of the stylistic analysis of any text. One way to produce foregrounding in a text is through linguistic deviation. Another way is to introduce extra linguistic patterning into a text. The most common way of introducing this extra patterning is by repeating linguistic structures more often than would normally be expected to make parts of texts parallel with one another. Such parallel structures have the same overall grammatical structure (grammatical parallelism) and some of the words are repeated in identical syntactic locations. 

Parallelism has numerous advantages in speech as it beautifies a speech or write-up. The patterned repetitions always beg for attention by the listeners/readers.

Moreover, it intensifies the listener/reader‘s excitement and suspense. Most importantly, parallelism in political discourse serves to convey the meaning of the discourse more comprehensively. In other words, it is basic to meaning. It is where syntactic arrangement most deeply engages with reason. Thus, it is fundamental to the logical structure of language. The present study is a modest contribution that aims at analysing selected speeches by the United State President and the Nigerian President – Barack Obama and Goodluck Jonathan to explore the nature and effects of parallelism in the speeches. It investigates the notion of parallelism which characterizes the style of these two presidents.

 

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Political speeches are often pregnant with meanings. People tend to misunderstand as well as give false interpretation to what is said and how it is said.

President Jonathan‘s and Obama‘s speeches are laced with various types of parallelism, and the audience‘s inability to identify these parallel constructs will make them lose sight of the beauty and creativity that the device brought out in the speeches. This study will attempt to find out if this rhetorical device of repeating similar patterns gives a better clarification and interpretation to political speeches. It will also examine how the use of similar patterns of repetition helps to add proper meaning and brings out creativity in these speeches. 

There is always a disparity on the language use between a native speaker and a second language speaker. Therefore, the use of parallelism as a stylistic device between Presidents Obama and Jonathan cannot be the same due to the fact that one is a native speaker of English and the other is a second language speaker of English. This study investigates the disparities in these speeches, hence, the comparism between Obama – first language user and Goodluck – a second language user.

Parallelism as a stylistic device is not common in linguistic studies, that is why very few studies have been conducted on it in this field. Does it have any significance in linguistic analysis like it does in literary analysis? Can it be divorced from literary stylistics and experimented in political speeches? Will it have the same effectiveness in political speeches as it does in poetic analysis? These are a few problems that the researcher investigates. 

 

1.3       Research Questions

The study will seek to answer the following research questions: 

i.              What are the vital roles and the effects of parallelism as used in political discourse?

ii.            How does parallelism contribute to the realisation of political meaning in speeches? 

iii.          How does parallelism characterize Barack Obama and Goodluck Jonathan‘s style? 

iv.          What similarities and differences exist in the use of parallelism in speeches of the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria and President Barack Obama of the United States of America?

 

1.4       Aim and Objectives of the Study

The main concern of the present study is to carry out a linguistic study of parallelism as a significant stylistic device used in the selected Presidential speeches of Barack Obama and Goodluck Jonathan. However, the objectives are to:

i.                    Provide an account of the vital roles of parallelism and its effect in political discourse.

ii.                  Illustrate the ways in which parallelism contributes to meaning in political discourse.

iii.                Establish parallelism as one of the effective stylistic devices that characterize Barack Obama and Goodluck Jonathan‘s style.

iv.                Account for the similarities as well as the differences between Barack Obama and Goodluck Jonathan‘s use of parallelism.

 

1.5       Justification for the Study

The topic under study is chosen particularly because the area of political discourse, most especially presidential speeches is one of the most interesting areas to investigate, because presidential speeches present a real political situation in which political language is used. In addition, choosing to explore the linguistic patterns of parallelism is due to the fact that parallelism is a strong foregrounding device that captures the reader's attention, serves to deliver the speaker's message, and marks the style of any piece of writing. 

Chomsky (1957) modified the work of de Saussure‘s concepts of ‗langue‘ and parole‘ and referred to them as ‗linguistic competence and linguistic performance‘. Competence refers to the entire knowledge one possess of a language and performance refers to one‘s ability to use the language. One of the things this study sets to find out is how far ‗competence and performance affect the skilful use of rhetorical devices. It seeks to justify how competence and performance work in a native speaker of English and a non-native speaker of English language. Hence, the comparison between the speeches of Barrack Obama (a native speaker) and Goodluck Jonathan (a non-native speaker). The effective use of parallel structures in their speeches (which were written and delivered in English Language) and the effects these have on their target audience will determine the extent to which they convey their message.

Another reason why the researcher embarked on this study is to analyze the stylistic effect of parallelism obtains in political discourse and how effective it serves as a foregrounding concept. Hitherto, most studies carried out on parallelism are usually related to literary works, most especially poetic studies. Hence, the research investigates the concept of parallelism in political discourse, to ascertain if it has the same effect as it does in literary works. 

The reason for the comparison between presidents Barrack Obama and Goodluck Jonathan is because both men are quite educated. President Barrack Obama holds a Juris Doctor in Law while President Goodluck Jonathan holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Zoology. Furthermore, another reason for the comparison is due to the fact that President Obama is a native speaker of English while President

Jonathan is not.

 

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study is significant because it studies how this powerful tool in discourse is manipulated by these presidents in their speeches and the study also uses the approach of stylistics. This is because parallelism is a stylistic device and can only be effectively explored in a linguistic stylistic study. Parallelism is one of the most noticeable stylistic device which is accepted not only as a traditional rhetorical device used in classical literature, but also as a common feature of style that characterizes political discourse. Thus, the present work aims at drawing more attention to parallelism as a stylistic device that characterizes the style of Presidents Barack Obama and President Goodluck Jonathan‘s speeches. 

The study also seeks to discuss political discourse from Stylistic angle instead of Critical Discourse Analysis because Stylistics creates a good foundation for different aspects of style to be studied since politicians have their individual unique styles which usually characterize their personality. The study is also significant because it will expose the powerful effect that parallelism has in speeches, especially on the audience.

 

1.7       Scope and Delimitation of the Study

Stylistics as an aspect of linguistics is a multifaceted discipline. This is due to the fact that it discusses individual styles when it comes to language usage. It also expands and discusses linguistic features of any given text. This research is therefore, limited to the analysis of parallelism as a stylistic device in the presidential speeches of Presidents Barack Obama of The United States of America and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria. For President Barack Obama, his second tenure presidential speech of 2013 will be analysed, this is because a lot of work has been done on his first tenure presidential speech, hence, it is expedient for his second tenure speech to be selected for the purpose of originality. The presidential speech of President Goodluck Jonathan‘s current administration delivered in 2011 on the occasion of his inauguration ceremony will be used for analysis. The research is designed to focus on parallelism as a rhetorical device in their language use. It will look at the types of parallel structures used in these presidential speeches and their effect on political discourse. 

This study will look at parallelism under the four linguistic levels of phonological parallelism, syntactic parallelism, lexical parallelism and semantic parallelism. This will help to make the analysis clearer and understandable and sufficient examples will be drawn from both speeches.

Order Complete Project