Intonation and Its Components as a Persuasive Means for Rendering Communicative Moves in U.S. Presidents’ Speeches


The article presents the findings of the study of U.S. presidents’ speeches. It particularly focuses on intonation organization of communicative moves as well as some other lexical and grammatical means the presidents use to make their rhetoric practices as persuasive as possible.

Our findings show that on a lexical and semantic level, the most obvious indicators of communicative moves in the presidential discourse are the participants of the communication; objects, events and actions; the speaker’s personal attitude to the message; the indication of the designation of the modality (time, obligation) etc. These are achieved by the use of nouns, adjectives, intensifying particles, negative and indefinite pronouns, and adverbs.

To convince listeners and achieve tactical objectives, presidents adopt a wide range of expressive figures like metaphor, epithet, antithesis, simile, emotive and evaluative lexes including synonyms, hyperboles, ironical and humorous expressions etc. in their speeches. The tropes allow the intended audience to form a more personal connection with the speaker, since they convey more of a conversational feel.

The opposition «good – bad» as a distinctive feature of the communicative moves that introduce «negative sides accentuation tactic» are quite often represented by some negative information for concentrating the intended audience on the president’s positive qualities. In this case, the speaker may use a contrast or an opposition as variants of antitheses. Unlike the latter, they don’t involve antonyms but words, phrases or sentences that extend negative or positive connotations of the message.

The analysis of the presidential discourse shows that actualization agents of some communicative moves may include such syntactical devices as parallel constructions and repetitions, constructions with conditional complex sentences, imperatives, future forms of the verb, imperative, interrogative, negative syntactic constructions and so on. On the prosodic level, they are often accompanied with the parallelism of suprasegmental units, i.e. the repetition of the same intonation model in the parallel constructions. As a result, the utterance not only becomes more energetic but also acquires a specific rhythm, which enables a speaker to transmit the entire energetic potential of the words. Adjusting to a specific rhythm and its dynamic changes both make it easier for the audience to understand the message and attract their attention to the quanta of information which are of primary importance for the realization of various distinct communicative moves.


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Author Biography

Valery Savchuk, Pereiaslav-Khmelnytsky Hryhorii Skovoroda State Pedagogical University


How to Cite
Savchuk, V. (2020). Intonation and Its Components as a Persuasive Means for Rendering Communicative Moves in U.S. Presidents’ Speeches. Theoretical and Didactic Philology, (31), 102-112. Retrieved from