Figurative Language in Electoral Campaign Speeches: A Critical Discourse Analysis Approach
Miriti, Mary Kendi.
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This study investigated the use of figurative language (FL) in selected politicians' electoral campaign speeches in Meru County during 2013 Kenya general elections. Figurative language is mainly social-culturally constructed and therefore it presents a major area for misinterpretation or manipulation when it collides within the sphere of national politics. The research was guided by the following objectives: to find out the categories of FL used by the politicians, to examine the functions of FL, to establish the relation between gender and FL and lastly to determine the influence of politicians' educational level on the use of FL. The study falls under the Critical Discourse Analysis. The approach was helpful in moving beyond the surface examination of texts to the deep structure relation of power and inequality as they relate to politicians' speeches in this study. Fairclough's, (1998) approach to CDA was used in this study. This approach was used to help understand the linguistic items that are FL and their meanings. In addition it was used to understand the social contexts of FL use and the different layers of messages communicated by politicians in their speeches. Also the Graded Salience model was used to determine literal and metaphorical meanings of FL. In data collection, the researcher purposely picked twenty four speeches from the selected politicians using stratified random sampling. This ensured that all individuals in a stratum had an equal chance of being selected for the sample size. Data was collected from media houses. Thematic analysis and CDA was used for data analysis and was presented using tables, pie charts and percentages. The results showed that metaphors and symbolism were the most used figures of speech by politicians. The results indicated that FL was used to criticize opponents, persuade electorates, to make shorter versions of their ideas and to boast how best fitted they were for the position. The study established that Politicians also employed figures of speech to mislead or deceive the electorate, to create unity between the politician and the electorate, to illustrate the policies they had in mind for the people. The study also established that most of the FL was mainly employed by male politicians. The study also found out that most of the politicians who used figures of speech were holders of bachelor's degree as the highest educational levels. The results also indicated that politicians with highest and lowest educational levels were unlikely to employ FL in their electoral campaign speeches. The researcher concluded that metaphors and symbolism were the most used figures of speech by politicians. It was concluded that Kenyan politics are tribal since FL was used to encourage voters to vote along tribal lines. The study concluded that FL was also used to divide and rule and also insult the opponents. It was concluded that the youth are marginalized in politics. The study concluded that Meru community is still a patriarchal society. Finally, the researcher concluded that the most learned were confident, careful and selective in their use of figurative language.