Academic journal article International Research Journal of Arts and Humanities

Pausing Preceding and Following Prepositions in Prepositional Phrases of Obama's Inaugural Speech

Academic journal article International Research Journal of Arts and Humanities

Pausing Preceding and Following Prepositions in Prepositional Phrases of Obama's Inaugural Speech

Article excerpt


When we study speeches given by political leaders, we are quite naturally driven to study rhetoric which is, along with grammar and logic, defined using oral/written language as a means to persuade. In the fourth century, Martianus Capella, one of the earliest developers of the system of the seven liberal arts that structured Early Medieval education, classified seven liberal arts as: trivium (grammar, rhetoric, logic) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), which later on was adopted by the Christian church to be taught in monastic and cathedral schools and remained virtually unchanged for six hundred years (Bowen, Madsen, Hilferty, 1985). During the Middle Ages, trivium courses were the first three subjects students had to study as a preparation for the quadrivium courses. Students following the completion of their trivium courses got the Bachelor of Arts degree, and after the completion of quadrivium they got the Master of Arts degree (Hughes and Duhamel, 1962).

Those studying on rhetoric argue that in order to give effective speeches one has to take the following factors into consideration:

* at word level: usage and dictionary, precise language and mass language, jargon, euphemism, worn-out metaphors, concrete and abstract words, popular and learned words, connotation and denotation, literal and figurative use of words.

* at sentence level: unity of sentence, coherence, loose sentence, periodic sentence, subordination, parallelism, rhythm of the sentence, and euphony (Hughes and Duhamel, 1962).

Regarding the "rhythm of the sentence" factor, we believe pausing is one of the essential components of the rhythm of a sentence because pausing per se plays a very important role in having a speech affect the audience and create a persuasive tone in the speech. We, however, in this study have not dealt with pausing for its role in determining the rhythm of a sentence or its role regarding the persuasion of a speech. From a linguistic perspective, we have studied pauses for their functions in signaling phrases and chunks in a sentence.

Related Research

Before looking at the studies on the pause phenomena in read or spontaneous speech it is necessary to mention the two important functions of pauses as argued by Oliveira (2002: a) they give the speaker time to adequately formulate the next group of information, b) they are very significant in speech perception, because they help the audience to cognitively digest the input.

In pausing studies Goldman-Eisler's (1968) more than 250msec figure has often been considered as a standard criterion because less pausing times than 250msec has been regarded as a necessary factor in articulation. Bada & Gene (2008), on the other hand, argued that not only pauses longer than 250msec be taken into consideration but also shorter pauses have more significance than merely providing time for breathing. Figures less than 250msec within sentences indicate the beginning and ending of phrases, whereby they illustrate a vital difference between native and non-native speakers: while native speakers quite unconsciously give more pause preceding heads of phrases than in the following position, non-native speakers can not reflect this pausing pattern to their speech (cf Bada, 2006; Bada and Gene, 2008).

When we have a look at pause studies, we see that researchers have investigated both read and spontaneous speeches. For instance in studies conducted by Gustafson-Capková and Megyesi (2005) and Megyesi and Gustafson-Capková (2005), the researchers found that while silent pauses in professional reading occurred mainly at sentence boundaries, in non-professional reading most of the silent pauses occurred at phrase boundaries. Similarly, in a study by Fant et al (2003) on pausing times between novel reading and radio bulletins, while the average pausing time between sentences in radio bulletin was 0.530s; in novel reading, it was found to be 1. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.