Tag: speech


Quiz: can you recognize these famous speeches?

Today (4 August) is Barack Obama’s 54th birthday! During his 2008 campaign for presidency, Obama was criticized by Hillary Clinton for his ‘well-versed’ speeches, i.e. that his public addresses were mere rhetoric without any substance. He responded to her claim, arguing that speeches held the power to inspire nations to believe in change: ‘Don’t tell […]

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How to write a great graduation speech

It’s graduation time at many of the nation’s schools and colleges. The commencement ceremony is a great exhalation for all involved and an annual rite of passage celebrating academic achievements. Commencement ceremonies typically feature a visiting dignitary who offers a few thousand inspirational words. Over the years, I’ve heard more of these speeches than I […]

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2013 oscar winners

How to ‘Thank the Academy’: making a successful Oscar acceptance speech

It’s Academy Award time, and lucky winners will be accepting their Oscars and thanking the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, their families, mentors, and colleagues. In linguistic terms, what makes an acceptance speech succeed where others fail? Thanking is a speech act—a way that we use words to do as well as say. Such speech […]

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Declaration of Independence

Rhetorical fireworks for the Fourth of July

Ever since 4 July 1777 when citizens of Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of American independence with a fireworks display, the “rockets’ red glare” has lent a military tinge to this national holiday. But the explosive aspect of the patriots’ resistance was the incendiary propaganda that they spread across the thirteen colonies. A rhetorical Declaration […]

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Presidential: what can we learn about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama from their debate transcripts?

Presidential: what can we learn about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama from their debate transcripts?

  On September 26, 1960, over 60 million viewers tuned in to watch John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon take the stage for the first televised debate ever between the presidential nominees of the two major US political parties. The contrast the audience perceived that evening between a sickly and tired Nixon and a rested […]

Martin Luther King, Jr., Rhetorically Speaking

Martin Luther King, Jr

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a national holiday in the U.S., we commemorate the birthday of the eponymous leader and activist, and reflect on his significant contributions to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. King’s legacy, while forged in the midst of a tumultuous time in U.S. history, transcends categorical […]

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