Choice of words

Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech is presented using language that is filled with pathos. The language is typical of a political speech, focused on appealing to feelings and to ideas, rather than on giving details about how Obama will implement his platform if he is elected president.

The choice of words reveals that Obama chooses to focus on positive aspects, despite being defeated that day. Most of the positive words and phrases he uses target others, such as the audience and his political opponent: “outstanding job” , “young in age and in spirit” , “a fundamentally new direction” , “great teachers”, etc.

When talking about his experience, Obama uses phrases that suggest he and the American people need to overcome a series of challenges: “improbable journey”, “impossible odds”, “a long political darkness”, “outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care” , “grow louder and more dissonant”, “false hope”, “the darkest of nights”, etc.

Use of pronouns

Obama’s use of pronouns in this speech is particularly notable. The speaker constantly includes his audience by using the first-person plural (“our”, “we”) even when speaking about his own election results: “Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care in our time” ; “We will end this war in Iraq. We will bring our troops home”. This makes the audience feel like they are sharing both his achievements and challenges.

However, Obama also uses the second-person address (“you”): “you c...

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