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Sample Essay on Discourse Analysis on Protecting the Rights of Refugees

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Sample Essay on Discourse Analysis on Protecting the Rights of Refugees


Antonio Guterres was born in 1949 in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. He graduated in 1971 as a physics and electrical engineering student and after that started an academic career as an assistant professor. Antonio Guterres later joined politics in 1974 and quitted academic life. He served in the government and the public service up to 1995 when he became the Portuguese prime minister. In early 2000, he was elected the president of the European Council due to his excellent leadership skills he had portrayed in his past appointments(Harrell-Bond, 1986). We chose this topic because of its speech which is an eloquent speech. As Portuguese students, we are so proud of having a strong and fluent person like Antonio, and that’s one of the reasons why we chose his speech in particular, instead of other speeches for other speakers.

Additionally, he also established the annual Dialogue on Protection Challenges, an informal, interactive discussion bringing together states, UN agencies, and civil society to discuss mixed migratory flows, protracted refugee situations, urban settings, protection gaps, faith, internally displaced persons, protection at sea and addressing the root causes of displacement. Moreover, his language was so clear, and his accent was great too as compared to other speakers. Besides, one of the main reasons behind choosing this topic is because of the speaker himself (Antonio Guterres) who is a famous activist standing for the humanitarian reform process in 2005 challenge ourselves. Finally, we hope that you enjoy the speech besides our very new experience of analyzing written statements.  


Discourse and Genre

Just as we had discussed earlier in our previous lecture (discourse and genre). Genres are ways in which people get things done through their use of spoken and written discourse(Barbour & Gorlick,2008). On the other side, we can say that genres are activities that people engage in through the use of language. However, our text is a written style. It is a socio-economic speech said by Antonio Guterres, former Portuguese premier and also high commissioner of the United Nations human rights. He is around 68-75 years old, because of his morphology. It was an opening ceremony on the rights of the refugees and the immigrants. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres suggests that people must try to solve the global refugee crisis since it is for the peoples’ benefit. In conversation with TED’s Bruno Giussani, Guterres discusses the historical causes of the current crisis and outlines the mood of the European countries that are seeking to screen, shelter and resettle hundreds of thousands of desperate families. Looking at the bigger picture, Guterres calls for a multilateral turn toward acceptance and respect to defy groups like ISIS’s anti-refugee propaganda and recruiting machine. The audience came from different parts of the world. There were the Africans; this was seen when he mentioned in his speech the Somali, Ethiopians and the southern Sudanese (referred to in sentence 3). Also were the representatives from Europe and Portuguese. Since it was a socio-political speech, the audience were a combination of politicians, journalists, translators and human activists.

Foregrounding → It is about what concepts and issues are emphasized.

Backgrounding → It is about what ideas and problems are played down.

Framing → It is about how the content of a text is presented, and the sort of angles or perspectives the writer or speaker is taking.

Presupposition → It is about the attitudes, points of view and values that the text presupposes, in other words, it is the expected results of a text.

Discourse and Pragmatics

1_Locutionary act → It refers to the literal meaning of the actual words.

2_Illocutionary act → It refers to the speaker’s intention in uttering the phrase.

3_Perlouctionary act → It relates to the effect this utterance has on the thoughts or actions of the other person.

4_Direct speech act→ It is about when we mean exactly what we say or write.

5_Indirect speech act→ It is about when the meaning of what we say or write is implied.

6_Felicity condition→ It is an important notion in speech act theory. It is about understanding the situation of the context, and the core stances surrounding the case of that text(Harrell-Bond, 1986).

7_Maxim of quality→ It is about that people should only say what they believe to be true and what they have evidence for.

8_Maxim of quantity→ It is about making our contribution as informative as is required for the particular purpose and not make it more informative than is required.

9_Maxim of relation→ It is about making sure that what we say or write is related to the topic of discussion.

10_Maxim of manner→ It is about making sure that the speaker is clear in what he says or writes, and to avoid ambiguity or obscurity (Barbour & Gorlick,2008). Also, the speaker should be brief in the contribution of the interaction.

11_Involvements→ It is about the need people have to be involved with others and to show this involvement.

12_Independence→ It refers to someone’s right not to be dominated by others, and to be able to act with some sense of individuality.

Discourse and Grammar

1_References→ They refer to a situation where the identity of an item can be reclaimed. For example;

2_Anaphoric reference→ It is pointing back.

3_Cataphoric reference→ It is pointing forward.

4_Exophoric reference→ It is looking outside the text to the situation in which the text occurs, for the identity of the item being referred to.

5_Lexical cohesion→ They refer to the relationship in meaning between lexical items in a text, and in particular content words and the relationship between them.

6_Collocation→ It describes associations between vocabulary items which have a tendency to co-occur.

7_Conjunctions→ Are words that join phrases, clauses or sections of a text in such a way that they express the (Logical-semantic) relationship between them.

8_Subtitution and Ellipsis→ Former is replacing one word with another. Latter is omitting some words completely.

9_Theme and Rhyme→ Former is the element which serves as the point of departure of the message. Latter is the definition of the theme.

10_Unity of texture→ It refers to the way in which resources such as patterns of cohesion create both cohesive and coherent texts.

The indication of cross-cultural failure. What can be a face-threating act in one culture may not be seen the same way in another(Guterres & Spiegel, 2012). In other words, when a type of communication in a certain culture is considered as failure in that culture.

The critical discourse analysis.
(Foregrounding, Backgrounding, Framing and Presupposition)

The foregrounding is evidenced in the sentence (1 and 2). Antonio Guterres in mentioning the African and Asian continents makes the audience from these two continents happy and recognized. They tend to feel appreciated and this in turn motivates them. It is important because it shows the need for cooperation and dialogue between people from different continents with different religion and culture. This brings togetherness regardless of the cultural or religious lines that one comes from. It gave them the opportunity to look at their future enthusiastically and not the opposite way round which is feeling pessimism and insecurity about it. They would feel inferior if not associated with the rest.


The backgrounding is clearly outlined in the statements (6 and 7). Guterres tells in his speech with the TED that the immigrants from different parts of the continent whether Islam, Hindu or Christian need to be protected and should not be rendered stateless. He also mentioned the Asian continent and Ethiopia as a state; the two are majorly composed of the Islamic culture.



In his 5th going through to 7th statement, the speaker (Antonio Guterres) was very clear in his speech as he never concentrated on just one area. He was elaborate enough and even touched on the slow economic growth, inadequate education system and also the poor living standards as outlined in sentences 2 and 3. The speech was political, economic and social, hence favoring all the audience. That is the way the topic of the text is optimal to the event.    


Sentences (11, 12 and 14) indicate that the center will be a place to discuss human’s community issues. According to sentence (16) the expected and hopeful result is that people from different spheres, cultures and religions will be able to have a good outlook on their future. The idea of statelessness was to be fully settled by 2024. We were able to translate written texts, spoken texts and now not to translate, but to analyze which we think is one type of translation. Finally, the project has its advantages and disadvantages like anything else. And when it comes to is it hard or not, we understand that as much it is hard as much it is going to be good. 

Discourse and Pragmatics.
Speech Acts.

In sentence (1), there is the Illocutionary act. It is evident when the speaker says in his statements (1 and 2), that most of the immigrants tend to leave their countries just because they experience hardships in their countries of origin. He outlines how the immigrants are exposed to poor living standards, lack of education and also the lack of hope which has seen many immigrants shift to other areas of settlement in search of a better life ending up being refugees. Additionally, there is the perlocutionary meaning. It is the result of what has been said or written, but then no actual action could be named under the perlocutionary meaning(Harrell-Bond, 1986). As a result, we could say that the real feeling that affects people when someone says something nice to them like thanking them could be concerned as the perlocutionary meaning. When Guterres, thanks the audience after listening to his speech, perlocutionary is evidenced.

Direct and Indirect Speech Acts.

Antonio Guterres speech is full of direct speech since it is clear that he meant everything that he said. By stating that different leaders needed to upgrade the condition of the economy in their respective countries to ensure that their citizens do not migrate to other countries with better lifestyle as compared to theirs. He advocated for this during his tenure as the UN high commissioner for human rights. On the other hand, indirect speech is evidenced in the statement because we don’t know what the immigrants and refugees are thinking. Whether they should stop migrating or not solely depends on them and no one can predict that.

Felicity conditions.

Felicity conditions are not a sort of texts we will quickly find; they are situations we need to understand fully. From the speech, Guterres said his sentence (15 and 16) in the appropriate time, situation, and place. And from the sentence (17) to (22) it is evident that Antonio Guterres chose the proper formal way, vocabulary, and time to deliver his message for people from different religions and cultures. As a result, it shows the amount of knowledge that the UN high commissioner has about other cultures. The maxim of quality appears in all of the sentences which are being honest and definite about the information Antonio gave.

Make Judgement

The speaker, Mr. Antonio Guterres, can convey his message to the desired audience because he was very clear in the language he used which was English. The use of international language makes it easy to communicate to the entire audienceBetts, A. (2010). The statement made by the speaker that the refugees are leaving their native homes due to poor living standards and lack of hope in their states that make them move in search of better means in other areas.

The conclusion

In the end, it was such a great experience because we never had a project like this one, so it is our first experience with analyzing spoken and written texts. We learned a lot of things for sure, one of them is to look at the words and sentences from some different angles to understand their meanings fully. We also learned that some texts may show to us a meaning which is completely the opposite from the intended one (Betts, 2010). That is why we need to focus before we judge. However, we faced some difficulties with the project one of them was with covering all the ninth concepts in our analysis. First, we went to the book to refresh our minds with those notions then we studied the text because it is impossible to analyze something without understanding it. After that, we started to analyze. And the time matter was our biggest problem in here because such a project requires having a clear mind to think and analyze. So we wish in the future that the project would be like an assignment on a short written or spoken texts.

The subject was of great interest since the speaker, (Antonio Guterres), majorly concentrated in defending the rights of refugees. The speaker has outlined in his speech the mission of ensuring that the humans who are stateless should be living in their states by the year 2024. He showed his concern for the humanitarian, and this makes the subject we chose on so interesting and educative, not only to the audience present that time but to the entire world.

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