To shape the world for the better : an analysis of metaphors in the speeches of Barack Obama
Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States in probably one of the hardest periods for his country. The U.S. was fighting with one of the worst economic crises in its history and, additionally, waged two unpopular wars that had shattered its reputation as the moral champion of the democratic countries. Obama brought hope in the lives of many. He was a contrast to his predecessor, viz. George W. Bush Jr. He was eloquent, he inspired trust of American citizens and raised their hopes for the better future. It could be argued that Barack Obama was elected partly on the strength of his inspiring speeches. The thesis explores the topic of metaphors in Obama’s speeches and their possible ideological repercussions. The speeches from the period of Obama’s presidential campaign and the early period of his presidency have been analyzed. The topics of the speeches range from terrorism to nuclear power and other threats to the security of the U.S. The identification of metaphorical expressions in twelve texts was conducted using a method based on Metaphor Identification Procedure. Conceptual metaphors underlying the metaphorical expressions were identified and put into groups. The three most numerous groups were analyzed in the framework of Cognitive Metaphor Theory. The analysis showed that metaphors can be argued to be partly responsible for Obama’s image, as well as for his success in evoking feelings of comradeship between himself and his followers and trust in his politics. Moreover, it was observed that Obama used metaphors to convince his followers that despite the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and Guantanamo Bay detention camp America is still the moral leader of the world abiding by democratic rules.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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