Masaryk university faculty of education



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Truman’s speech


  1. Syntax

Truman’s speech is 2,945 words long, contains 154 sentences with 19 words per sentence on average. All grammar tenses as well as passive voice are used, but grammar structure is simplistic with conjuncts of time such as before, lastly, later and also but, and, and or. Compared with four previous speeches, Truman’s speech lacks syntactic complexity and sophistication, caused by lack of inversion, finite clauses, appositive phrases and other grammatical features, which make discourse advanced. Similar findings were encountered in topicalization, where some text did not seem to match any of the nine selected categories for topics within the speech. The sentence below, if taken out of context, could very well belong to a women’s magazine and yet it is part of Truman’s speech, when discussing food shortage.

Now, I sincerely hope that every American housewife will keep this in mind when she does her daily shopping.

It is sentences such as these that make it difficult to choose the correct category, as their content does not match the expected content of a war speech. That said, Truman split his attention between justification, our plan, appeal to American values and the issue, as seen in chart 8.17, completely leaving out steps that failed, future and also the actual declaration. Politically speaking, Truman has always referred to the Korean War as a “police action.”



Chart 8.17

The speech also appears disjointed as it is not well organized, but mainly covers too many irrelevant topics, such as tax and production increase, food shortage or legal changes, which only confuse the audience and keep away from the real focus of the speech, a declaration of armed conflict.





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