In Search of Ideographs: Exploring the Rhetorical Landscape of Inaugural Speeches in Pakistan (1947 – 2018)

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This article explores ideographs in the inaugural speeches of Heads of State/Government of Pakistan from the country’s founding in 1947 to 2018 – the time of the latest inaugural speeches in Pakistan’s political history. The data was collected from multiple sources, mostly official. A total of fifty-eight speeches were analyzed, which contained 124,363 words—averaging 2,144 words apiece. The study was qualitative in nature and employed McGee’s framework of Ideographic Criticism for data analysis. Setting ‘ideograph’ as a unit of analysis, the study carried out repeated close readings of the speeches. The analysis involved five steps: identification, translation (in case of Urdu speeches), categorization, contextualization and interpretation. Thus, in all 493 ideographs (both positive and negative) were identified in the speeches. While analysis of such a large number of ideographs was practically impossible, only 58 ideographs (47 positive and 11 negative), which had a frequency of 10 or above in both English and Urdu speeches taken together or in either of the languages, were analyzed diachronically. This study is the first attempt of its kind in the context of Pakistan and contributes at four levels: Theory, Method, Genre and Context.


1-Muhammad Amjad
PhD Scholar, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

2-Ayaz Afsar
Professor/Vice President (Academics), International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan


Genre, Ideograph, Ideographic Criticism, Inaugural Speech, McGee

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Published: 09 2021

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