An Analysis of Repetition in Barack Obama’s Eulogies

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Sawanee Phakhasun
Rebecca K. Webb


This research aims at studying the use of rhetorical devices as a significant component in Barack Obama’s successful public speeches. From various rhetorical devices, this study explores the types, functions, and purposes of repetition in Obama’s eulogies for Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, and Beau Biden III. The study deals with five types of repetition in words, phrases, and clauses: anadiplosis, anaphora, epanalepsis, epistrophe, and polyptoton. Repetition is classified as having four objectives: to create emphasis, to call attention, to appeal to emotion, and to add rhythm. Moreover, to interpret the speaker’s purpose, the five types of illocutionary acts based on John R. Searle (1979) are employed: assertives, directives, commissives, expressives, and declaratives. The results show that from sixty-three samples, anaphora is the most frequently applied to create emphasis. Assertive is the main purpose of the anaphora in selected eulogies. Obama uses anaphora to emphasize a subject, an event, a point, and as a tool to alter the audience’ s mood. Therefore, the use of anaphora in Obama’ s eulogies demonstrates the effect of this rhetorical device on the audience’s emotion and reveals his intention. 


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Phakhasun, S., & Webb, R. K. . (2022). An Analysis of Repetition in Barack Obama’s Eulogies. Journal of Liberal Arts Prince of Songkla University, 14(1), 1–26.
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