Logos, pathos and ethos in Mahathir Mohamad’s speeches during his come back as prime minister of Malaysia
The study examined rhetorical appeals in Mahathir Mohamad’s speeches delivered during his come back as the seventh prime minister of Malaysia. The specific aspects investigated were: (1) the extent to which the logos, pathos and ethos appeals were used; (2) the use of the active and passive voice in attribution of responsibility; and (3) the use of personal pronouns in the appeals. Six of Mahathir Mohamad’s political speeches in Malay language delivered in 2018-2020 with a word-count of 13,000 words were analysed using Aristotle’s rhetorical proofs. The results show that Mahathir Mohamad relied on logos (56.17%) and pathos (39.63%) but not ethos (4.20%). Mahathir Mohamad came across as a political leader who relied on argumentation and the positioning of himself as a spokesperson for the ruling coalition and the government, reflected in “kita” (we-inclusive) accounting for 50.26% of personal pronouns used. However, in the context of a distressing situation, he resorted to the pathos appeal and the frequent use of “I” to show personal interpretations. The passive voice and circumstantial referents were strategically used in disparaging remarks without identifying the doer. The study indicated that seasoned political leaders have a stable rhetorical style with flexibility to suit situations and audiences.
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