A pragmalinguistic study of the strategies in motivational discourse (Based on Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard commencement speech)
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Commencement speech, Discourse analysis, Discourse strategies, Motivational discourse, Motivational speeches, Motivational strategies, Speech acts.

How to Cite

Yerznkyan, Y., & Harutyunyan, L. . (2024). A pragmalinguistic study of the strategies in motivational discourse (Based on Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard commencement speech). International Journal of English Language and Literature Studies, 13(2), 97–108. https://doi.org/10.55493/5019.v13i2.4982


The present paper addresses the main pragmalinguistic strategies employed by speakers within the framework of motivational discourse. Motivational discourse is defined as a verbal and non-verbal influence on the person to positively change their attitudes, actions and behaviour. The research specifically focuses on Mark Zuckerberg's 2017 commencement speech to Harvard graduates. The study uses discourse analysis to pinpoint different linguistic and pragmatic methods as well as the main speech acts that Zuckerberg uses in order to motivate and inspire his audience.  The researchers identify the strategies of praising, gratitude, humour, identification with the audience or inclusion strategy, direct or indirect instruction, storytelling, recognition and acknowledgment of others' success as the main pragmalinguistic tools used in motivational discourse. From the perspective of the types of speech acts employed in motivational discourse, we adhere to Searle's classification of speech acts (representatives or assertives, directives, commissives, expressives and declarations) since this typology of illocutionary acts contributes to a comprehensive analysis of motivational discourse. In these terms, the researchers observe the predominance of expressive, assertive and directive speech acts in motivational discourse. These interactions are successful at influencing the interlocutors' behavior and attitudes favorably. The study can be used as a foundation for further research into various formats of motivational discourse to better understand other techniques and strategies used to influence people's attitudes and behaviors.

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