A critical discourse analyasis of martin luther king jr’s I have a dream saka, muda m

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A Long Essay Submitted to the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria, in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Award of the Degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A. Hons.) in English.

JUNE, 2011.

The essay has been read and approved as meeting part of the requirements of Department of English, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, for the award of Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Dr. T. A. Alabi Date

Project Supervisor

Dr. S. T. Babatunde. Date

Head of Department

External Examiner Date


I dedicate this work to the Almighty Allah, my beloved parents, my rescuing Uncle and to all the oppressed people in all corners of the universe.


My profound and unalloyed gratitude goes to the Almighty Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, my Cherisher yesterday, today and forever, and the One who has made this work a reality.

I am indebted to both my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Saka, for their parental guidance and moral obligations; and especially to my mother who has unconditionally shown care and love to me and who has been resilient and stolid against all odds. May Allah reward you both. I acknowledge my rescuing Uncle for his financial and spiritual supports, encouragement and parental guidance. Only Allah can and will reward you abundantly. I equally pray that may Allah shield you both, all the foreigners and all the innocent citizens from the socio-political crises and blood-shedding in Ivory Coast at present.

I am heartily indebted to my supervisor, Dr. T. A. Alabi, whose tolerance, painstaking supervision and intellectual guidance have afforded me the chance to bring this work into a successful conclusion. These have left intellectual imprint in me. You are highly appreciated, and may Allah reward you beyond your imagination. Sir, to thank is human while to reward is Allah. May Allah in His endless mercy reward you.

My thanks go to my most esteemed and respectable teacher Mrs. J. O. Fasoro; you are indeed a mother. God bless you. I recognize Mr. Oso as well.

I also appreciate my brothers (Munirudeen, Zikrulah, etc.), sisters (Suliyah, Shakirah, etc.) cousins (Abdul Mujeeb, Thrimidhi, Issa, etc.) who have supported me in one way or the other in the course of study in particular, and in the journey of my life in general.

I equally recognize my bosom buddies, Nurudeen, Mubaarak, Abdul Lateef, Mashood, Fateemah, Khadijah, Bola, and so forth for their love, care and support in my life. I thank you all.

My unreserved thanks go Ummu ‘Aisha, a.k.a. Kehinde Hamidah for her immense and sisterly support at all times. Baaraka Lahu Fiikum. Adeagbo Oluseye, Ibraheem Fateemah, Salihu Muhammad Baba, etc. are also highly appreciated.

In addition, my profound regards go to my colleagues whom we have weathered the storm of time together and are now victorious — Seke, Jidezy, Kings, Eseigbe Aye, Affix, Lautech, Tunmise, Bukish, Prof. etc. As we go along in our different lives, may we walk into glorious and brighter destinies.


Title Page i

Certification ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgements iv

Table of Contents vi

Abstract ix


General Introduction

1.0. Introduction 1

1.1. Purpose of the Study 2

1.2. Scope of the Study 2

1.3. Justification 3

1.4. Methodology 3


Literature Review

2.0. Introduction 4

2.1. Conceptualization of Discourse 4

2.2 An Overview of Discourse 6

2.3. Versions of CDA 8

2.3.1. Van Dijk’s Version of CDA: Social Cognition 8

2.3.2. Halliday’s Version of CDA: Language 9

2.3.3. Fairclough’s Version of CDA: Social Practices 11

2.4. Fairclough’s Trinocular Dimension for CDA 12

2.4.1. Explanation: Social Analysis 12

2.4.2. Interpretation: Process Analysis 13

2.4.3. Description: Text Analysis 14

2.5. Conclusion 16


Data Analysis

3.0. Introduction 17

3.1. Description: Text Analysis 17

3.1.1. Overwording 17

3.1.2. Metaphors 20

3.1.3. Thematization 21

3.1.4. Transitivity 24

3.1.5. Modality 28

3.1.6. Mood Choices 30

3.1.7. Connectives and Argumentation 33

3.2. Interpretation: Process Analysis 38

3.2.1. Intertextuality 38

3.2.2. Interdiscursivity 40

3.3. Explanation: Social Analysis 41

3.4. Conclusion 44


4.1. Summary 45

4.2. Findings 45

4.3. Conclusion 49



There is a growing faith in critical discourse analysis as a critical theory of language to liberate the oppressed in societies by deconstructing the divergent ideologies in social, political and cultural texts. The study has set out to investigate I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr. as a socio-political discourse using Fairclough’s (1989) trinocular dimension for CDA (Description, Interpretation and Explanation). It has been discovered (across the levels of the analysis) that the text (speech) is a socio-political and counter-hegemonic discourse — an implication that it was resisting whites’ dominance over the blacks and other minorities in the USA at the time. In this way, CDA assumes an important place in investigating discourses by focusing on the meta-functions performed by them: that is, discourses do not just describe the social phenomena and happenings, they also bring other social phenomena and happenings into reality.

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