Practice Piece - Obama's Speech - Formal Language

May 5, 2021grusha

Practice Piece - Short Answer & Analytical Commentary - Formal Language

Around this time of the year, many of you would be preparing for your next SAC on a formal language, and so what better to prepare than to provide you with a sample practice piece for you to complete! The article presented today is a formal (mostly) speech presented by the then President Obama to the Australian Parliament in 2011. Yes, it seems like an old piece, but the language features never age!

I would recommend first that you complete the analysis of the piece as this is arguably the more complete task of this piece. So, how do we plan the analytical commentary? Make sure you have access to my online course to learn how to structure an analytical commentary.

To help you get started in completing your analysis, I have identified some of the linguistic features in the text for you. You can see them listed below. Of course, your job is to ensure you translate these dot points into actual cohesive and expressive sentences in your analysis.


Register: Mostly formal with informal features (why might that be?)

Function/Social Purpose: To celebrate and commemorate, with a wider social purpose of building and strengthening the relationship between Australia and America.

Audience: Those in immediate attendance (such as the leaders and politicians), but also the wider Australian public.

Contextual Factors: Think about the situational context, cultural context, purpose and topic - and how all of these factors AFFECT the language being used by Obama. Why might he say 'Leader Abbott' on line 1 as opposed to 'Tony'?


Parallelism: This is a common feature in formal commemorative or celebratory texts. Remember that parallelism is used for emphatic purposes. E.g on lines 4 to 5 there is an example of parallelism.

Fragmented sentence structures: 'Every single one.' on line 39- why might he do this?

Sentence types and sentence structures.


Colloquialisms: such as 'Strine' on line 12. Also an example of phonological elision. Why might he use this? Think of the social purpose of strengthening relationships.

Euphemisms: such as 'fallen sons' on line 34 - why might he use this? Think of respect and the context.

Personal pronouns: 'we', 'us' are both very common in this text. Think why though!

Metaphors and imagery: 'toiled with hearts and hands' (line 20). What do you see when Obama says this metaphoric reference?

Discourse (Coherence/Cohesion)

Logical ordering of the text: What is logical in this context? Look at the order of the paragraphing - WHY does he start off with the first body paragraph with its current contents? Think about the situational context, purpose and register. You'll notice a register shift from line 9 to 17 as opposed to lines 1 to 8 which is more formal. WHY? You must mention this here.

That's it from me guys! I hope this is good food for thought. Make sure that when you write your analytical commentary that you do it within the time constraints - ideally 50 mins + 5 mins reading time MAX. This will set you up for the exam later on in the year.

Good luck this term guys 🙂

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