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Rhetorical Analysis of Speech as a Method of Linguistic Research

Since ancient times, there has been a practice of developing new forms of organizing written and oral texts addressed to a large audience. In many respects, their consolidation in the speech was facilitated by such a linguistic technique as rhetorical analysis of speech.

Rhetorical analysis is a kind of study of human speech activity, which involves considering various aspects of constructing a specific speech material, identifying methods of speech influence, and evaluating the means of speech expressiveness chosen by the author.

Mastering the skills of conducting rhetorical speech analysis contributes to the acquisition of communicative competence by specialists of the required level. As a result, the rhetorical analysis of speech can act as the basis for the creation of your texts of various genres. An excellent example of a rhetorical analysis of Martin Luther King’s speech can be viewed here.

Rhetorical Analysis Key Concepts

Traditionally, the key concepts of rhetorical argumentation, in general, and rhetorical analysis of speech, in particular, are ethos and pathos:

  • Ethos – these are the conditions for the appropriateness of the utterance of speech (time, place, circumstances, etc.);
  • Pathos (pathos) is the intention, the plan of the author, which is aimed at developing a specific topic of interest to the audience.

Therefore, rhetorical analysis enables text or speech understanding. The piece is recognized as rhetorical when its primary goal is to influence its addressee. In this regard, such works are usually viewed in a dialogical context.

Content of Rhetorical Speech Analysis

In its most general form, rhetorical speech analysis can be presented as a combination of the following aspects:

  • Determination of the type and genre of speech/text messages;
  • Establishing those to whom the text/speech is addressed;
  • Revealing the goal set by the author of the text/speech and determining the degree of its achievement;
  • Description of the setting and conditions that accompanied the process of creating a text or delivering a speech (for example, time, place, etc.);
  • Characterization of the relationship between the author and the audience;
  • Establishing the location of the text/speech, which, first of all, involves taking into account a specific audience in the rhetorical strategy;
  • Determination of the type of arguments (pros and cons, strong and weak) and their types (refuting/supporting, descending/ascending, inductive/deductive, one-sided/two-sided, etc.);
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the given argumentation;
  • Decomposition of a specific speech or text message into smaller parts and determination of their general composition, taking into account the transitions between them;
  • Focusing on the change during the reproduction of speech/text of the author’s point of view, which, for example, can be one’s own/another’s, internal/external, temporal, spatial, evaluative, etc.;
  • Identifying in the message and justifying the use of different types of speech.

An essential part of rhetorical analysis of speech is to check it for factual, grammatical, logical speech errors. The results of this review will demonstrate the degree of correctness, accuracy, relevance, and expressiveness of this speech in a particular setting.

Within the same spectrum of research, linguists solve the problem of establishing the fact of communication failures. Then the reasons for their occurrence should be explained. Finally, as a result of such research, the degree of sufficiency and the level of preliminary preparation of the speech will be determined.

A specific message (whether speech or text) can be constructed using specific tools that significantly affect the entire content and structure of the message. Specialists also investigate it during the rhetorical analysis of speech, in which the following activities can be carried out:

  • Justification of the expediency of using rhetorical figures and tropes in the text/speech;
  • Determination of techniques and means used in speech/text to create a dialogue;
  • Establishment of means for establishing and maintaining a speech conic;
  • Revealing the means of expressing speech and determining the degree of their admissibility;
  • Detection of manipulative and demagogic techniques.

At the end of the rhetorical analysis of speech, after completing all the processes described above for studying a specific discourse, the researcher should give a general assessment of the speech/text, which, among other things, reveals the level of its originality persuasiveness, etc. 



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