Interpersonal Metafunctions in Bingu wa Mutharika’s Second-Term Political Discourse: A Systemic Functional Grammatical Approach

Wellman Kondowe


Modern studies in discourse analysis have witnessed an increasing interest in presidential political speeches. The major argument has been that the presidential speeches are often ideologically loaded. Hence, analyzing such speeches would provide an insight into their hidden ideologies. This study aims at analyzing Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika’s inaugural address through the linguistic lens of Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) by focusing on choice of mood, modal auxiliary operators, and personal pronouns. Results of mood choices reveal that the address is information-centered as he opted highly for declarative and used imperative sparsely. Modal auxiliary operators of median scale turns out mostly by favoring will. The personal pronoun we, which is followed in majority by I, implies that the speech is exclusive as Mutharika continuously referred to himself and his administration leaving out the citizens. The analysis shows that Mutharika did not perform well on establishing interpersonal relations with the people during his second term. He created distance between him and the citizens and implied a sense of authority, making the addressee experience a feel that he and his administration were a strong team to initiate and implement any development related endeavor; and that the citizens were merely passive receivers and consumers. The study demonstrates how leaders' political discourses unearth a sort of contradictions between their ideologies at early and later stages of their leadership. It further provides sufficient proof that the grammar of speech is not merely a combinational tool of creating correct constructions, but a method of structuring information and transferring ideology.

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