Choice of words

The language used by Mahatma Gandhi in his “Quit India” speech is formal and eloquent, yet still fairly easy to understand for the general audience. The language is typical of a political speech, focused on appealing to reason and to ideas, as well as to feelings. Note that, for the first two parts of the speech, the original language is Hindustani and the current text is a translation.

Gandhi uses words and phrases that denote urgency, trust, and reason: “understand two things very clearly and to consider” , “a great responsibility” , “hasten to assure”, “entrusted” , “genuinely”. He also makes use of Sanskrit words that represent concepts of Indian religions: “Sadhana” , “Ahimsa” , “Himsa”. This choice is meant to appeal to the religious feelings of the Indian population that is his target audience and allows him to express some of the central points of his own beliefs.

The speaker uses first-person singular personal pronouns (“my”) in the beginning of the speech when he wants to establish his authority, credibility, and intentions: “Let me explain my position clearly”. As the speech progresses, he begins using first-person plural personal pronouns (“our”, “we”); these are important in creating a sense of community and shared effort, and in establishing a relationship of trust that suggests to the audience that they and the speaker share the same values: “Our quarrel is not with the British people, we fight their imperialism”. He also uses second-person personal pronouns (“you”, “your”) to directly app...

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