Language

In this part, we will discuss Barack Obama’s language in his remarks on Trayvon Martin. We will focus on Obama’s choice of words, sentence structure, tone, personal stories, and anecdote…

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Choice of words

In his remarks on Trayvon Martin, Obama uses powerful words that suggest that he is deeply affected by the death of the Florida teenager. He sends his “thoughts and prayers” to Trayvon Martin’s family and he claims that Martin could have been his “son” or even “me 35 years ago”.

Obama also uses legal terms when he talks about the trial of George Zimmerman, such as “judge”, “legal analysts”, “juries”, “prosecution”, etc. This part of the speech is used to imply that he trusts the American legal system and the way it works, but that he also feels the need to address…

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Sentence structure

Most of the sentences used by Obama in his speech are either middle-length or long, which indicates the formal nature of the speech. Generally, the middle-length sentences help the audience focus better and present straightforward information which is clear and to the point:

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's h…

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Tone

When he talks about the Trayvon Martin case, Obama’s tone is emotional and clearly affected by the incident. If you watch the televised version of the speech, you will note that Obama pauses several times when he mentions Trayvon Martin’s family and the trial, which suggests that he is deeply moved. He also pauses when he asks the public rhetorical questions, prompting the audience to think about the issues he presents and come up with a personal answer.

When he talks about the four proposals regarding racial tolerance, Obama’s tone becomes more firm and serious, which fits his role as a politician and President discussing a difficult issue. Nevertheless, note that he maintains the same calm t…

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