Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number2  June 2020                                                          Pp.3- 17

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A Critical Discourse Analysis of Nelson Mandela’s Defense Speech
I am Prepared to Die

Bader Nasser Aldosari
Department of Law, College of Science and Humanities
Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


This paper attempts to present a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) of Nelson Mandela’s defense speech I am prepared to die, which was delivered in 1964 during his trial in what is often called as Rivonia Trial. More specifically, the paper tries to explore the hidden relations of power and ideologies that have been encoded in Mandela’s defense speech. The main research question is: what are the ideological meanings Mandela tries to communicate through his speech, and how are these ideologies conveyed by CDA strategies?  The paper draws on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), as discussed in the writings of Fairclough (1989, 2013) and Van Dijk (1993, 2001, 2014). The analysis covers two levels of analysis: the lexical level and the pragmatic level of analysis. Both levels are discussed under the theoretical umbrella of CDA. The paper reveals that Mandela managed, by using specific CDA strategies, to communicate particular ideological meanings that reflect his political stance, as well as his rebellious spirit as the most distinguished revolutionary leader who struggles against racial discrimination in South Africa.
Keywords: critical discourse analysis, court discourse, defense speech, ideology, I am prepared to die, legal discourse, Mandela, racial discrimination

Cite as: Aldosari, B. N. (2020). A Critical Discourse Analysis of Nelson Mandela’s Defense Speech I am Prepared to DieArab World English Journal11 (2) 3- 17.


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Bader Nasser Aldosari is an Assistant Professor, Department of Law, College of Science Humanities, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia. He got his PhD degree in Law Studies at School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex, UK, in 2018. His research interests include law studies, law and politics, and law and language.