A Pragmatic Analysis of Nelson Mandela’s Speech at Harvard University


  • Dharmendra Kumar Mishra The English and Foreign Languages University Regional Campus Lucknow, India.




Mandela’s oratory, pragmatics, politeness, public speaking, rhetorical strategies.


This article studies Nelson Mandela’s speech at Harvard University to understand his rhetorical skills. In this speech, he talks about how South Africans face disparities and injustice due to their race. He emphasizes the need for reconceptualization and redefining the economic system's precepts, which could benefit all regardless of race, gender, and ethnicity. The speech has been analyzed using Leech’s Maxims of Politeness and Aristotle’s Theory of Persuasion to investigate how rhetorical and politeness strategies have been used. The analysis shows that Mandela used Leech’s Maxims of Politeness as complementary to Aristotle’s strategies of persuasion to achieve desired communicative goals. He uses different strategies of logos and ethos to build a persuasive discourse. Besides, he uses modesty and approbation maxim and humour at the cost of self as the main strategies of politeness. Politeness complements his persuasive appeals and makes them more effective. 


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How to Cite

Dharmendra Kumar Mishra , translator. “A Pragmatic Analysis of Nelson Mandela’s Speech at Harvard University”. Creative Saplings, vol. 2, no. 4, Apr. 2023, pp. 37-54, https://doi.org/10.56062/gtrs.2023.2.01.252.

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