PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SELECTED POLITICAL SPEECHES OF NELSON MANDELA

PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SELECTED POLITICAL SPEECHES OF NELSON MANDELA

ABSTRACT

This study is a pragmatic analysis of selected political speeches of Nelson Mandela. Using the Speech Acts theory the researcher interprets Nelson Mandela’s utterances, and determines the perlocutionary acts of Mandela’s speeches in order to judge whether his speeches meet the felicity conditions as spelt out by J.L Austin (1962). The linguistic and non linguistic factors such as speech acts, socio-political context and deixis are considered as relevant situational factors that helped to provide an account of how the interpretation is achieved. The method of data analysis is qualitative analytical method. The speeches are presented and analyzed using Austin’s speech act theory with special reference to Searle’s taxonomy of illocutionary act. The findings of this study indicate that Nelson Mandela’s speeches are used to achieve persuasion and the utterances are either implicitly or explicitly stated. The implicit utterances are doubly pragmatic in that he did not state clearly what his intentions are but rather he uses such moods as: indicatives and imperatives which are all implicative. That is, they all have implied meanings. The implicit nature of Nelson Mandela’s speeches is intended to avoid being overly aggressive in achieving his intentions. Explicit utterances on the other hand, are clearly stated using perfomative verbs. Also, we observe that in the representative or assertive acts, Nelson Mandela was explaining, informing, asserting, proving and stating the facts of the situations at heart. The perlocutironary acts indicate that, Mandela enlightens, convinces, and persuades his audience to accept his opinion.  Using the directive acts, the speaker makes his speech by ordering, admonishing, appealing, advising, and pleading for the change they so much desire.  The perlocutionary acts in the directives are such that Mandela convinces, persuades and inspires his audience to bring about the positive change they so much desired. Finally, Nelson Mandela’s speeches met J. L. Austin’s (1962) felicity conditions and they are, therefore, felicitous.  This study also reveals that in Mandela’s speeches, there is an evidence of the speaker’s cultural influence. Nelson Mandela unconsciously upholds his culture in terms of greeting, appreciating and thanking his audience and his language use in terms of his communicative competence was part of the key to South African’s freedom from the apartheid conflict and eventual emergence of democratic rule.