Style of Obama’s Inauguration Speech

  • Samuel Gunawan English Department, Faculty of Letters, Petra Christian University
Keywords: style, oratorical skills, speech, inauguration address


This paper is to find out how Obama’s inauguration speech addresses the confidence of the new President to cope with the domestic problems and renew the American role in the world in terms of its theme, plot structure, linguistic and stylistic categories. The theme expressing the historically-rooted confidence to remake the nation and the world is developed into six simple elements. The words in general are aimed to emphasize a convincing vision - a return to the steady rule of law and the solid ideals of the U.S. democracy. Obama’s repeated use of the illocutionary act of commissives convinces his audience and fellow citizens that the crisis they are suffering will optimistically be overcome. To better provoke his audience’ interest, more compound sentences and frequent apposition are used. The figures of speech used are mostly metaphor and very few in the forms of synecdoche and metonymy. Three-part structural constructions, sometimes with their half-rhymes, are also repeatedly used for creating the effect of continuity and reinforcements. The cohesion in the speech is achieved by the employment of cohesive devices such as co- reference pronouns and ellipsis. Throughout the speech, Obama places himself as a humble citizen and addresses his audience as his inseparable compatriots in the use of the pronoun “we” (43) and the possessive pronoun “our” (37).


Download data is not yet available.


Kelly, M. (2010). Effective speech writing. Retrieved Jan 25, 2010, from

Leech, G., & Short, M. H. (1984). Style in fiction (3rd ed.). London and New York: Longman.

Obama, B. (2009). Presidential inauguration speech. Retrieved Nov 10, 2009, from¬¬ration-speech/413457/0

Perrine, L. (1988). Literature: structure, sound, and sense (5th ed.). Orlando: Harcourt Jovanovich.

Traugott, E. C., & Pratt, M. L. (1980). Linguistics for students of literature. New York: Harcourt Jovanovich.

U.S. presidential campaign ’08: A semantic matrix analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2010, from pl?textid=1

Word counting software. (n.d.). [Computer software]. Data posted to

Easy word count. (n.d.). [Computer software]. Data posted to http://www.Easyword¬count. com/