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Distinctive Voices Essay Jfk

John F. Kennedy

This is an new speech to the new Standard Module A: Experience Through Language – Distinctive Voices.


  • John F. Kennedy was 35th President of the US from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.
  • He is the only Catholic President in US history. His Roman Catholicism caused fears in the public that his decision making would be affected by his religion.
  • His speech talks about the need for American citizens to take action, for the nations of the world to join together, and for internationalisation.


  • Inaugural address – a speech given by the president which tells the public about the president’s intentions as a leader
  • Delivered after Kennedy took his presidential oath.
  • Draws heavily from Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech.
  • Concerns at the time included: communism in Cuba and Vietnam, the African American civil rights movement, the Space Race.

Techniques by Paragraph

I’ll simply go paragraph by paragraph. The paragraphs are as they are on the PDF of English Prescriptions: Standard Speeches on the BOS website.

I won’t do your analysis for you, but here is a general guideline:

  1. Identify where the listed techniques are in the speech.
  2. Explain their effect/purpose.

Para 2:

  • Inclusive pronouns
  • Antithesis
  • Parallelism (repeating sentence structure)
  • Pauses (dashes)
  • Biblical reference

Para 3:

  • Allusion to post WW2
  • Repetition
  • Antithesis

Para 4:

  • Alliteration
  • Metaphor
  • Long sentence

Para 5:

  • Emotive language
  • Parallelism and accumulation

Para 6:

  • Anastrophe – rearranged sentence structure
  • Short sharp sentence

Para 7:

Para 8:

  • Diction of “pledge”
  • Metaphor

Para 9:

Para 10:

  • Direct addresses
  • Conduplicato – repetition in sentence/phrase eg. “good” and “free”
  • Metaphors

Para 11:

Para 12:

Para 13:

Para 14:

  • Repetition
  • Dramatic language

Para 15:

Para 16:

  • Repetition (para 16 – 19)

Para 17:

Para 18:

  • Antithesis
  • Emotive language

Para 19:

Para 20

Para 21

  • Repetition
  • Short sentence

Para 23

  • Metaphor
  • Dramatic language
  • Biblical quotation
  • Listing

Para 24

  • Alliteration
  • Rhetorical question

Para 25

Para 26 – 27

  • Repetition
  • Inversion (antimetabole)

Para 28


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Tags: englishjfkkennedySpeechesstandard


The speeches for prescribed study for a non fiction text  within the “Experience Through Language” Module A (Elective 1 – Distinctive Voices) in the 2015 HSC English Standard course are:

  • John F Kennedy – Inaugural Address, 1961
  • Indira Gandhi – The True Liberation of Women, 1980
  • Severn Cullis-Suzuki – Address to the Plenary Session, Earth Summit, 1992
  • Paul Keating – Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier, 1993
  • Aung San Suu Kyi – Nobel Lecture, 2012
  • Barack Obama – Inaugural Address, 2013

JFK Inaugral Address

Syllabus Description

In their responding and composing, students consider various types and functions of voices in texts. They explore the ways language is used to create voices in texts, and how this use of language affects interpretation and shapes meaning. Students examine one prescribed text, in addition to other related texts of their own choosing that provide examples of distinctive voices.

Syllabus Annotations

The following annotations are based on the criteria for selection of texts appropriate for study for the Higher School Certificate.

Merit And Cultural Significance

  • These speeches are valued for their social, political and/or historical significance, and for their effective use of rhetorical techniques.
  • The selection has been drawn from the last half of the 20th century to the present day and from a variety of sources.
  • The speeches focus on a range of themes and issues, such as: nationalism and the history of nations; freedom and oppression; war and peace; the environment and climate change; and human rights and world affairs. They are noteworthy examples of the type of public speeches that exerted an impact on audiences at the time they were delivered and have had their messages and effects reverberate to the present day.

Needs And Interests Of Students

  • Students will consider the continuing appeal and influence of these speeches, their contemporary relevance and implications for the future.
  • The issues addressed in the speeches are complex and important to personal, political and global contexts, and the speakers’ perspectives are expressed with conviction and authority.
  • Most communication still relies on speaking and listening, so the study of this most formal mode of speaking and the analysis of its effects on the intended audience will be worthwhile and instructive for students.

Opportunities For Challenging Teaching And Learning

  • Students can investigate the specific nature and elements of rhetoric and examine the effective use and control of language and ‘voice’ by both writer and speechmaker.
  • Students can explore and analyse the purposes and effects of the speeches within their particular social, historical and cultural contexts and assess whether this impact remains. They can also critically assess the legitimacy and effectiveness of rhetorical modes and forms used for formal oral communication.
  • Students could compose and present speeches in formal contexts and develop a public ‘voice’ of their own.


Video of Speeches

John F Kennedy – Inaugural Address, 1961

Severn Cullis-Suzuki – Address to the Plenary Session, Earth Summit, 1992

Paul Keating – Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier, 1993

Aung San Suu Kyi – Nobel Lecture, 2012

Barack Obama – Inaugural Address, 2013




Please note the Syllabus Descriptions and Syllabus Annotations components of this page have been replicated from the Board of Studies, Testing and Educational Standards website. The PDF document of the HSC Annotations can be found here. The main reason any information has been replicated has been to make it easier for NSW HSC students to access information on this text.

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