Inclusive ‘We’ and Speech Acts (Commissive And Directive) Used as Rhetorical Devices in The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Discourse Before the Central Council in Ramallah On April 26, 2014

Aysar Yaseen


In his speech before the Central Council in Ramallah on April 26, 2014, president Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine made good use of some rhetorical devices, namely, inclusive “we” and commissive and directive speech acts to gain the support of his people. Inclusive „we‟ or generic use of first-person plural pronoun (referred to hereinafter as 1PPP), which has interesting connotations and rhetorical effects in discourse and has been ignored by grammarians (Wales, 1996), was executed professionally by Abbas. He managed to reiterate what had been said or done during years of negotiations with the Israelis as if the entire community and not Palestinian leaders alone conducted these negotiations. In other words, Abbas claimed the right to speak on behalf of the entire community to rekindle hopes and memories. This intentional use served rhetorical effects, namely, disclaiming personal responsibility of the derailment of the negotiations on the one hand and exempting Palestinian Authority leaders from any wrong doings or mishaps regarding the concessions (as claimed by rivals) made since Oslo on the other hand. On many occasions, president Abbas made several promises through commissive speech act as indications of power since powerless cannot make promises. It is used as a reminder to his opponents and rivals that he is still in power and in command. Fairclough (1989) and Pennycook (1994) argue that the use of 1PPP as well as I-reference (First-person singular pronoun 1PSP) is often political and implies power relationships.

Keywords: rhetorical, commissive speech act, directive speech act, inclusive „we‟, power, vocative text, argumentative text, discourse.

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