Communication Studies, Department of


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Published in Issues in Political Discourse Analysis Volume 3, Issue 1 (Special Issue), pp. 47-74. Copyright © 2011 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. A short version of this paper was presented at the American Association or Applied Linguistics in Denver, Colorado, March 23, 2009.


In this paper, Barack Obama's March 18, 2008 Philadelphia speech is examined from the perspectives of Semiotics and Critical Discourse Analysis incorporating a theoretical framework from Social Identity Theory including models of metaphorical analysis from Semina and Masci (1996), Santa Ana (1999), and semiotic analysis of political discourse from Umberto Eco's "linguaggio politico" (1973). Jakobson's functions of signs (context, contact, code, addresser, addressee, and message) provide a basis for the analysis, which examines each function in detail. Emphasis is placed on the message of the speech by analyzing metaphors and metonyms ranging from "unity is nourishment" to "anger is a distraction," which form the dichotomy of unity vs. division. In addition, analysis of pronouns and other deixis reveal the way signs are used by groups in power (or those struggling to gain power) to show a contrast between us and them. Moreover, through metaphorical analysis and the semiotic analysis of signs within the text, the author exposes underlying meanings not readily accessible to the average listener and affirms our right as citizens to deconstruct and demystify coded messages in political discourse.

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