Politicians frequently receive negative publicity at the hand of their own use of language. Their uses of words as they relate to persuasion typically fall within one of the three dimensions of language functional, semantic or thematic. Often their persuasive language can be found to closely resemble any of these three categories simultaneously. There are many tools for analyzing persuasive symbols, many of which should be utilized when analyzing great communicators such as President Ronald Reagan. In response to the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion on January 28th, 1986 where seven brave American’s gave their life. President Ronald Reagan made history with his famous ...view middle of the document...
137-138) Words can do many things. Words identify causes and effects, can motivate action, and point fingers while deflecting blame. Richard Weaver developed grammatical categories which analyze sentence and word type as a directive in analyzing the persuader’s world view. On the other hand the Semantic Dimension of language serves to give meaning to the persuasive use of language. Many words share the same meaning but not the same idea. Analyzing the choice of words in persuasion can be very difficult; identifying the intentional use of ambiguity can help with the realization of the true meaning rather than a misinterpretation due to open ended statements. Lastly the Thematic Dimension of Language as described in Larson (Persuasion: Reception and Responsibility (2010), pp 137-138) aids the theme or tone for the persuasion by setting a mood, or a feeling. Persuaders use God, Devil, and Charismatic Terms to persuade their audience’s co-created feelings associated with these words in despite of how they may feel about the subject at hand.
Ronald Reagan’s The Space Shuttle "Challenger" Tragedy Address
President Reagan is considered a great communicator for many reasons, notably he often uses simple sentences which highlight cause and effect. A good example of President Reagan’s strategic use of simple sentences is seen through the following lines:
“Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger”.
The first sentence presented offers a single and complete thought, one that establishes the tone of the persuasion through the Thematic Dimension. His use of simple sentences such as the second sentence presented offers the audience a co-created meaning, a shared feeling of bereavement. President Reagan doesn’t leave the meaning of his words up for interpretation as he later uses through the use of the Semantic Dimension of language. President Reagan frequently uses these short sentences and choice of words to present a clear foreground and background. In opening the speech President Reagan spoke of his plans to address the country and announced his new intentions in light of the tragic event that had taken place. The audience clearly identifies the intent of the speech and comprehends the message with certainty due to the use of simple meanings. A viewer can easily identify President Reagan’s simplistic view of the world they live in. He is very concise in establishing his stance on the matter and providing console with each brief point. For example,
“We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss”.
Here President Reagan continues his pattern of simple word choice and concise messages, rather than creating a complex sentence within his speech he ended the first thought and immediately supports it with the shared feeling of loss.
Within the simple sentences previously mentioned allusion to the Thematic...