Persuasive Language in Presidential Speeches A Contrastive Study Based on Aristotelian Rhetoric

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Farshad Ghasemi


Persuasive strategies in political discourse provide opportunities for politicians to influence, guide, and control their audiences according to their desires and benefits. This study examines the persuasive side of the language used in presidential speeches delivered by Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani. This contrastive study delineates persuasive strategies based on the Aristotelian approach towards the methodology of persuasion. Through extracting our corpus from the internet, we analyzed it using Aristotle’s three means of persuasion (ethos, pathos, and logos). The corpus analysis was performed through qualitative content analysis according to the predefined themes and considering earlier investigations within the frame of Aristotelian rhetoric. The results indicated the prominent role of logos in presidential speeches as the most frequent strategy. Also, the analysis indicated three contrastive themes of religion, time, and participant names in the speeches of the presidents which signified their different cultural and political discourse. The impact of contextual aspects has also been discussed.

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