Political Discourse Analysing In America



Cohesion. 1

Coherence. 2

Rhetoric. 5

Acceptability. 5

Informatively. 7

Situationality. 8

Inter-textuality. 9

Register. 10




The famous “I have A Dream” speech electrified America in 1963, when it was delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The main message in the speech was that all people were created equal, which was not the case in America’s political happenings at that time. I have a dream comes a lot to the minds of many people as a struggle for freedom, of the black African people in America.


Cohesion in a political discourse analyzes the speech for discovering patterns of lexical cohesion in a political speech. That is finding words with related meanings, and identifying connections between words in a text. I have a dream speech by Martin Luther King is one of the speeches that have been popular for a long time in the whole world. Taking an excerpt from the speech:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 56).”


The relationship is obvious that sons in either case are similar (sons) which is the bottom line. Stylistically the speech is a political treaty, or a piece of poetry delivered masterfully like an improvised sermon. Former slave owners and former slaves are both able to bear sons and become like brothers. This connection is that former slave owners and former slaves are supposed to be like brothers (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 58). But Martin Luther King could see this in a dream that this would come true. The bursting biblical language and imagery used primarily in the first parts of the speech portrays an image of seething American nightmare of racial segregation against the blacks. The former slave owners are the whites and the former slaves are the blacks.  He uses the phrase, “now is the time” often in the speech. For example, now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand’s of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 74). This reflects the need for urgency in realizing the vision. It calls for action, and it is the urgency seen in America today, implying that things have to happen now. This implies that now is the task that is given the first priority.

A greater part of King’s approach was more perceptive and eloquence to the non violent campaign against black segregation in America. The second part of the speech deals with the dream in a fairer future of racial harmony and integration. The part of the speech that says;

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 87)


The repetition of this phrase continually emphasizes in driving home Martin Luther King’s inspirational concepts.



Coherence serves as a quick way or analyzing the overall structure, rather than the content of an argument in a speech. Repetition of key words in a paragraph is an excellent way of attaining cohesion, and move from paragraph to paragraph (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 89)


The coherence through similar system was particularly applied by Martin Luther King in his speech. The reader or listener can easily predict what King is about to say. The speech presents a compelling rhetorical result of using parallel framework to create refrain. For example,

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation. This will mean little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys, and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 93).

This sentence can easily be connected to the following:

With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we be free one day (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 96).

Although linguistic features have been applied, most can be identified from command level such as morph-semantics, syntactic category and frequency. These linguistic features are powerful determinants of similarities and differences between registers. I have a dream today stretches cohesion to the inter clause, inter sentence and inter paragraph level. Martin Luther’s speech was well researched with the key component in the text consist of cohesion (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 100). The King’s speech also reliably identified regular expressions, part of speech taggers, and syntactic parsers. I have a dream impressively displays considerable cohesive results.

The logical coordination and subordination of ideas is clear. The super ordinate is supplied from the title “The American Dream.”  All the words, paragraphs, and sentences:


Make a comment either directly or indirectly about this title, and are thus subordinate to it (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 106).


All the first six sentences allure directly to the title by relating some aspects of King’s dream for America. This illustrates a superb and logical subordination to the title, and coordination with one another. This coordination is shown clearly by grammatical parallelism of the sentences.


The first level two sentences are a comment on all ideas expressed in the preceding six sentences. “This is our hope.”“This is the faith,” is also subordination to the entire sentence that begins with “I have a dream” but coordinates with “This is our hope.”  The rhetorical synonym that substitutes faith for hope is a reiterated idea (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 108).


In addition to pronoun references, synonyms, and repeated words, parallelism is an indispensable means of creating coherence. It provides the reader or listener with the way things are going in the speech. Martin Luther is able to create a link between sentences and enhance the coherence of paragraphs. One can follow the movement of King’s mind over the American Dream with a clear understanding and gist of the text (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 110).



The speech clearly enchants the soul; this is a particularly remarkable emotion in both sound and power. The site at which it was delivered was well chosen. Exactly at the steps of the memorial to the president who defeated Southern States over the issue of slavery. The mood of the day gave a sense of perpetual slavery among blacks, and a sense of guilt in the midst of the whites. This is well shown by the phrase, Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, We are free at last! This linguistic order did not give a legal brief on civil rights issues; neither did it raise an intellectual treatise on the plight of the black people (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 112). Instead, it came out as a fervent emotional sermon. I have a dream can be claimed to be a rhetorical masterpiece, given King’s magnetism and open incertitude that makes equal platforms come from the ruled to the ruler. In trying to discover cases of all available means of persuasion it could be attributed to oratory skills that King had (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 116). This was both an art and talent used by King to bring a bridge between reason and imagination. Thus, the discourse enlightens the understanding levels through imagination, passion, and influence.



The incredible rhetoric demanding racial justice and an integrated society became the core of the black community. The speech was widely acceptable among the blacks; this was evident by the large crowd that gathered for the speech. This was familiar to subsequent generations of Americans as US declaration of independence. He carefully chose words that directly touched on the social and political upheavals of that time in America. He gave the American nation a word to describe what was happening. It was a rhythmic that came with hope and freedom. Towards the end of the speech, he changed his act so as to drive the final message home (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 118) As much as his target audience for the speech was the United States government, and other stakeholders, his attention turned to black people. The African American people who had gathered at this venue, and those listening across the nation; he reminded them that there is a need for perseverance, as freedom was coming. He reminded the whole nation that freedom is coming to all corners; as illustrated by his voice that displayed seriousness, urgency, and boldness equated to the quest for freedom (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 120; McCarthy, 1991).


Gee, (2005) stated that using critical discourse analysis in this speech demystifies anything apparent from the speeches. This tends to be associated to a power, struggle, and politics. A critical analysis of the topic reveals that it was chosen after extensive research, and thorough thoughtfulness. I have a dream is ingrained in the whole speech, always emphasising the central theme of the message. The speech talked about what touched the hearts of Americans, both black and white (Pulverness, 2001; Reah, 1998; Halliday, 1985; Todorova, 1999).

His phrase that said, to save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and facts from the fiction (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 123). It clearly touches both races as two sides of a mirror. This is further illustrated by the following: In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as, white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 127).”


Education is vital to all the American citizens, just like the promissory note for equal access to peace.  This is a model of effective communication and a powerful example of African American. The speech gave a vision of what a redeemed America may appear, with the hope that this redemption will come to pass one day.  He clearly cemented this hope by saying that let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and that in some not too distant tomorrow.  The radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our grand nation with all their scintillating beauty (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 130)



According to McCarthy, & Carter, (1994), the speech informed the American people of the plight of the segregated black people. As much, as it was non-violent some level of violence still emanated from the presentation of the speech. It did not only inform the American, but the whole world, through many generations to date. Cheung, (2001) argues that, the speech has been animated by many artists in narratives, novels, films, and many other forms of media. The need for freedom and equality became so paramount that the dream was realized. Today Americans have a president who has black African origins. This is an example of the realization of the American dream of integration, and not segregation (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 133)


During the march to Washington for jobs and freedom, most people realized that the march was highly credited with helping to pass the civil rights act (1964), and the National Voting Rights act (1965). Because he wanted everyone: both blacks and whites to get along and be united against racism. When he said that, machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more prestigious than people; the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. He was clearly against the Vietnam War. This discourse was later used by Bob Marley who said in one of his songs that “Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 135). Everything is war, me say war. That until they’re no longer 1st class and 2nd class citizens of any nation… Until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, I say war. That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race me say war!” The level of informatively is quite evident in other political struggles of independence in other parts of the world (Hutcheon, 2000; Morris, & Hirst, 1991, 24-32).



According to Franklin, (1999, 123-129) and Goddard, (1998), King must have read the bible, The Gettysburg address, and the US Declaration of Independence is connected to his speech. Given the socio-political situation, the speech could not have come a better time. King must have felt it must be a case of the future, he argued his point passionately and powerfully (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 136) the organisation of the speech takes care of all situations and time. When he talked about no time to engage in the luxury of cooling or to take the tranquilizing drug addiction of gradualism, he meant it.


Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 138).


This illustrates that now is the time is extremely situational and a matter of urgency to open doors of opportunity to all God’s children. The speech took care of situations that both affected blacks and whites. Especially in the part that he said; The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 140) And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.


The power that King used is comparable to Obama’s speech that is remarkably current. The speech and therefore, any situation befit the main message of the speech. King himself also gave the undertone that it was situational by asserting that he was happy to join with the congregation on that day in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of the American nation (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 144)



In seeking the truth, King undoubtedly employed inter-textuality, because intertextual references were put in a hybrid discourse. It appealed to different ethnic audiences. Abla-Juez, (2009, p45), argues that the American English is different from native English. The speech was an ambitious, broad ranging statement that encompassed creativity. It elicits different arguments at the creative verbal language. The enormous use of language specifically defines other words such as allusion, influence, reference, and reformation (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 147). Like when the New Testament eludes readings from the Old Testament. ‘I have a dream’ you probably would be doing more than just quoting a small phrase from Dr. King. You would probably be attempting to pull in the wider context of his speech and the moment in history and perhaps even of the character of Dr. King, himself. How often do biblical authors do the same thing and how integral is it to their arguments?



I have a Dream was a seventeen minute speech, that was delivered to over 200000 civil rights supporters. It has been ranked the top American Speech of the 20th century. He educated, inspired, and informed many generations that came long after the speech was delivered. The register and ideology used in this political discourse were based on his ideology, and at the same time preserves it in the target text, as well. It also gives a poetic register (Martin Luther-King and Coretta, Scott King, 2007, 148). The speech created transition of democracy, and separating the register of politics from the norm.




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