Masaryk university faculty of education



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Pragmatics

When examining chart 8.3 it can be asserted that Lincoln’s use of pronouns does not follow much of the standards for audience involvement strategies.

Chart 8.3



He focuses highly on 3rd person plural, particularly on they (53 instances) and their (43 instances). His use of 1st and 2nd person singular is minimal and the pronouns we, our, ours and us, make up only 20% of all the pronouns. The final combination of these findings, including the use of let and let us, (only one instance), and the number of rhetorical questions (15), will later be compared with other speeches.

Deictic pointers in table 8.4 suggest, that Lincoln was placing as much emphasis on pointing away, as staying within his time and place, by using this 64 times and now 21 times. Though he does not use here at all, graph 8.4 indicates an almost equal number of deictic pointers for here (this, now, I) as for away (that, then, there, you). It should be noted that only instances of that and then used as a pronoun and not a conjunction were counted. Also, Lincoln uses a unique deictic pointer, by referring to himself in 3rd person singular, as the Executive, he, his or, himself in altogether 25 instances. Clearly the speech has a much formal tone, and though it probably was not his intention, Lincoln is shying away from his responsibilities by removing himself as person from the argument and instead using the Executive, someone appointed, to make this difficult decision. It is known just how much Lincoln was struggling over the declaration of war, and this statistic clearly confirms it.

Table and chart 8.4





THIS

64

NOW

21

THAT

19

HERE

0

THERE

18

THEN

8



Repetition is not very frequent, only appearing a few instances, often using pronouns: it was not believed that, is it just that, they knew. Further, only one obvious three part statement is present towards the end:

to elevate the condition of men -- to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.

As for the influence of the media, it is known for a fact that Lincoln wrote the speech himself and was aware that his speech would be printed in the newspapers in the North as well as the South. While he does not resort to any overly intentional audience involvement strategies or sound bites, he does appeal, though briefly, directly to the soldiers of the Union, saying:

To the last man, so far as known, they have successfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those whose commands but an hour before they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of plain people. They understand, without an argument, that the destroying the Government which was made by Washington means no good to them.

At first Lincoln praises the loyalty and patriotism of men, following with an appeal towards ordinary men, using the pronoun they, continuing with his last sentence using too plain of English to belong in this speech, saying “they understand,…that the destroying the Government …means no good to them.” Particularly, the no good to them part, feels much unlike Lincoln and it can be assumed that he attempted to abandon his usual formal, elevated style and speak to folks with folk language.

Lincoln speech is, in today’s standards, overwhelmingly elaborate, too long to concentrate on and too difficult to follow. That said, it is also linguistically and historically inspiring and challenging, since where does a reader of today come across expressions like the most sanguine expectation or ingenious sophism. The audience involvement strategies are not employed, and neither is the appeal to American values or media strategies such as sound bites. The speech is rock solid on evidence and justification, leaving no space for misinterpretation, employing sophisticated language to be decoded by the audience.



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