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Transilvania University of Braov Faculty of Letters 2nd year , English French

Cohesion in Barack Obamas speech against the Iraq war

Student: ANA MARIA Niculescu Coordinator: LILIANA Coposescu

Braov January, 2014


Cohesion in Barack Obamas speech against the Iraq war

Abstract. This paper is meant as an attempt to show the way in which a discourse can be understand. In order to do that, I have chosen Barack Obamas speech against the Iraq war, which I found interesting because I can find a number of problems for the analysis. In this analysis I will talk about cohesion, meaning the verb forms, conjuctions and adverbials, parallelism, semantic parallelism, referring expressions and the types of referring expressions, co-referential chains and substitution and ellipsis. I hope that after investigating these aspects I can prove that Obamas speech is a coherent text.

1. Introduction. A discourse is a mode of organizing knowledge, ideas or experience that is rooted in language and its concrete context, like critical discourse; a formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing. Discourse analysis is recognized as one of the most vast and least defined areas of linguistics. Discourse analysis is defined by some as language above the level of the sentence meaning constituents that have certain relationships with one another and occur in a number of arrangements. The other approach defines discourse analysis as language in use, for communication. I found Obamas speech on Internet. This has an advantage because it exists,but it has disadvantages as the time consumed searching for it, that data is limited to what exists and is available. Halliday and Hassan were concerned with what binds a text together and force co-interpretation. They consider that the primary determinant of whether a set of sentences do or do not constitute a text depends on cohesive relationships within and between the sentences, which create texture.

2. Analysis and discussion. I will talk about verb form in this speech. The verb form in one sentence can limit the choice of the verbs in the rest of the sentence. For example, I chose one sentence where all the verbs are in the past tense, My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. Another example where the verbs are in the present tense, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.

Conjunctions and adverbials draw attentions to the type of relationship between the clauses. There are several types: a) additive: e.g: and, or, also; b) adversative: but; c) causal: so; d) temporal: after, now, before. Parallelism suggests a connection just because the form of one sentences repeats the form of another. It is used because the rhythmical repetitions renders an emotional touch and also function as a reminder. e.g: 1. I don't oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. 2. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt. 3. A dumb war. A rash war. Here we have the repetition of a grammatical structure . Article + adjective + noun in the first sentence and article + adjective + noun in the second sentence.

Referring expressions is another type of cohesive relationships, such as the pronouns he, she, it, they, this, etc. Sometimes reference is substituted for co-reference. This forms are forms which, instead of being interpreted semantically in their own right, make reference to something else. These forms direct somewhere else in their interpretation. Where the interpretation lies somewhere outside the text the relationship is called exophoric relationship. Where their interpretation lies somewhere inside the text, the relationship is called endophoric relationship. Endophoric relations are of two types: those which look back in the text for their interpretation, called anaphoric relations and those which look forward in the text for their interpretation called cataphoric relations. a) Example of anaphoric relation: The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword.

In order to understand what the it from the second part of the sentence refers to, we have to look back at the beginning of the sentence to identify The Civil War. b) Example of cataphoric relation: That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. In order to understand what the that from first sentence refers to, we have to look in the second sentence to identify A dumb war.

Repetition and lexical chains are another type of cohesive relationships. a) Repetitions have the role of printing the idea repeted in the mind of the listener. e.g: 1. I don't oppose all wars. This sentence is repeated all over the discourse because Obama wants to make people listening to him understand that he isnt against all wars. 2. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks That's what I'm opposed to. 3. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure that. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East. b) Lexical chains are represented by connected words met through discourse. The may be words associate with each other. e.g: war history army democracy politics

3. Conclusion. What I have tried to do in this paper was to analyze this discourse according to cohesive relations, understanding the methods Obama used in speaking to the people. It exists different types of discourse that can be analyzed in different types. Their presence do not make automatically a passage coherent, but they help the text in making it coherent, also their absence do not make the text without meaning. There exists a lot of other things which help in making a discourse coherent and with meaning.

4. List of references. Discourse analysis course notes, Liliana Coposescu Obamaspeeches.com source for Obamas speech against the Iraq war