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In a speech that was delivered by Ronald Reagan in August 17th 1992 in the Republican National Convention during the reelection bid of George Bush, it was marked with rhetorical and literal decoration that helped in passing the intended message. It is a speech that has been described to have delivered to redeem the image of Reagan following low polls after his presidency. Dissection of speech reveals specific language strategies that was used in order to drive the message to his audience. They included but not limited to the following, humor, repetition, rhyming and alliteration, metaphor and labelling and depiction. The intent of this paper is to explain the usage and the purpose of this language strategies.
Humor and Depiction
First and foremost is humor which Reagan made sure that it came in the opening of his long speech. After the salutation remarks of the speech, Reagan introduced the humor to capture the attention of the audience. Reagan averred the following both as humor and pass a message to his political nemesis.
We can do it today.
“… according to the experts, I have exceeded my life expectancy by quite a few years. Now this a source of great annoyance to some, especially those in the Democratic Party.” (Ronald Regan, 1992).
On a light note, he meant that the Democrats would have wished him to be dead but because he was still alive, they were annoyed. It is a political rhetoric that was meant to make the audience awake and also introduced the spirit of competition with their counterparts in the reelection bid of George Bush. More so, it depicted the Democrats as sadists.
The other language strategy that was used is repetition. It has been used on several spots to enhance the delivery of the speech. However, it was done with moderation to ensure that the speech was not monotonous with repetition. The phrase “you’d never know” has been repeated over and over.
“…you’d never know that the nightmare of nuclear annihilation has been lifted from our sleep. You’d never know that our standard of living remains the highest in the world. You’d never know that our air is cleaner than it was 20 years ago. You’d never know that.” (Ronald Regan, 1992).
Such a repletion served two purposes. One it enhanced the eloquence of the speech giving the speaker a chance to give an eye contact to his audience. The second purpose that it played was to emphasize the content at that particular time of speech delivery.
Rhyming and Alliteration
More so, Reagan used rhyming words and alliteration. Just like repetition, rhyming words and alliteration are essential in enhancing eloquence and emphasizing the message being delivered. The speaker probably wanted to connect with the audience and appeal to them not to judge him wrongly because of the economic depression his presidential administration.
“…my dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.” (Ronald Regan, 1992).
In the quotation, the word lamp rhymes with arm. It is also an alliteration. He said this well knowing that probably it is last speech to be delivered in political event of that scale. He wished the republican to have that liberty lamp that will guide their steps. More so, while quoting Abraham Lincoln, the rhyming emerged that could have enhanced the delivery of the speech. Wage earner and wage payer have a rhyming effect.
We can do it today.
“You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage-earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich” (Ronald Regan, 1992).
The other language strategy that was used in the speech was metaphor. Metaphor exaggerate the message and make it to be delivered in an effective way even though it does not mean the way it is orated. In the following part, while refereeing to the protracted dominance of the Democrats in both houses, Reagan metaphorically requested the electorate to clean the house by suggesting to remove the Democrats by voting in the Republicans if progress was to be made. The following is the metaphor that was used to appeal to the voters.
“It’s time to clean house. Clean out the privileges and perks. Clean out the arrogance and the big egos. Clean out the scandals, the corner-cutting and the foot-dragging.” (Ronald Regan, 1992).
It helped in delivery of message and also used repetition that enhance the eloquence and oration of the speech.
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More so, Reagan used labelling as a language strategy to make his point. With this technique, the Reagan helped de-role from the career as an actor when it comes to issues of national importance. He first started by capturing their attention by saying “I’ll give you a hint” then proceeded to say what Democrat claim to be:
“Over and over they told us they are not the party they were. They kept telling us with straight faces that they’re for family values, they’re for a strong America, and they’re for less intrusive government.” (Ronald Regan, 1992).
At the end, Reagan labeled them actors through a disassociating from his lifetime career as an actor by saying, “And they call me an actor.” It helped labelled the Democrat as liars.
- Ronald Regan (1992). Speech to the Republican National Convention. Teaching American History.