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Linguistic and Rhetorical Features of Televangelism as Persuasive Discourse

Rhodora P. Suarez-Crizaldo

Date of publication:

June and December 2005

The study was an attempt to examine the linguistic and rhetorical features that make televangelism a type of persuasive discourse. Data were obtained from five religious sects in the Philippines, namely, Ang Dating Daan, El Shaddai, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jesus is Lord Church, and Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ. The study revealed five macrostructure patterns with the Claim and Support moves as the obligatory moves, while the Warrant move is optional. In terms of
linguistic features, persuasion is realized in Philippine televangelism via the widespread use of first person plural pronouns, simple attitudinal
adjectives, direct reference type of repetition, and causal conjunctions. In terms of speech acts, the findings revealed the propensity to use
representatives, most particularly, assertion, information and descriptive examples. Directive is another feature of the persuasive function of Philippine televangelism, with the imperative type as the most prevalent. Persuasion is further realized in terms of paralinguistic features, specifically suprasegmentals, i.e. intonation, pitch, stress and length Of the two types of intonation contour, the falling intonation ascribed to imperatives obtained the highest occurrence, while the rising intonation was prevalent in non-sentence-final intonation. In terms of pitch, high pitch was prevalent in imperatives, while low pitch was pervasive in formulaic expression. There is a widespread use of stress in conjunctions, while lengthening is frequently associated with fillers. The paper further argues that the persuasiveness of Philippine televangelism is further definable in terms of rhetorical features such as logos, ethos and pathos, corresponding to the rational, credibility and affective appeals, respectively. Authority, first hand experience, and emotion in audience's situation were found to be the most frequently occurring types of rational, credibility, and affective appeal categories in televangelism, respectively. Across organizational moves, there is a widespread use of all the linguistic, paralinguistic, and rhetorical features and speech act in the Support move. In view of the findings, it could be concluded that there is a pattern unique to Philippine televangelism that distinguishes televangelism from other discourse types or from other genres within persuasive discourse. The realization of persuasion in Philippine televangelism can be proven at the surface levels with the available linguistic features, speech acts and rhetorical features that make them different from other types ef persuasive discourse. Persuasive function is also realized through the interplay of both the verbal and non-verbal components (ie. paralinguistic features).

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