Choice of words and style of writing

In her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Malala Yousafzai’s choice of words reflects a mix between an informal and a formal style. Although her tone is not casual, her speech is marked by many evocative words related to the oppression and inequality suffered by children all over the world, and by an emotional appeal to the audience to fight against these issues.

The informal style is visible when Yousafzai shares personal details: “my brothers still call me that annoying bossy sister”. It is also conveyed through her emotional tone: “And our beautiful dreams turned into nightmares.”

However, there are also several instances when Yousafzai adopts a formal style in her speech. For example, she uses a formal style when she addresses the Nobel Committee, or when she criticizes the Taliban using expressions such as “have you not learnt” or “Do you not know”.

Malala Yousafzai begins her speech with a greeting in Arabic, which she follows with a translation into English: “Bismillah-hirrahman irrahim. In the name of God, the most merciful, the most beneficent”. This sentence reveals her culture and her Muslim religion and emphasizes her faith. It is also used to create a personal connection with the audience.

The phrase “Dear sisters and brothers”, which Yousafzai uses several times in the speech, is also a sign of her religion, reflecting the Islamic belief that all people are the children of God and, implicitly, sisters and brothers. The implication that everyone in the audience are sisters and brothers of the human family also helps her bring the audience together. This might also motivate them to join Yousafzai in her cause to fight for education for all children. She also refers to the girls she mentions as “my sisters”, pointing out that they are connected through their wish to fight for their education.

Yousafzai uses both negative and positive words to enhance her message. Negative words describe, for example, the consequences of the Taliban rule, the hardship suffered by the girls in the audience, and the suffering of children all over the world. A few relevant examples of negative words and phrases are “forgotten”,“frightened”, “terrorism”, “nightmares”, “crime”, etc.  

Positive words describe Yousafzai’s relationship with her parents, and her life before the Taliban regime took over, as well as her hope that children all over the world will be provided with education. Some words and phrases that generate positive images are: “always speak the truth”, “peace”, “paradise...

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