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A Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly

Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly

The world is full of strangeness and contrastive features. There is a proverb; “life is a war and attack is the best form of defense,” and speech is the best way to present your point of view to the world band your audience to whom you want to convey the message. Speech is the most excellent tool in the panorama of politics. If the orator has strong communication skills and excellent use of words, he can conquer his opponents with the help of his oration. Speech is an excellent tool in the time of war and peace. The communities of people who have not any language can thrive in the world of imagination. Still, in reality, they require strong communication skills and a language to convey their messages. Peace is desirable and adorable for the development and progress of the world and humanity. ( This is A Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly’)

Nevertheless, the message of peace can be conveyed with the help of language, and without language, none can express his real feeling and desires to others. As the late British Prime Minister expressed his views on 26th June 1954 as ” to jaw to jaw is better than to war to war.” This thing describes the importance of communication and speech for the mutual resolutions of communal differences. After the 9/11 incidents, there is a rapid change in the history of humankind, especially against Muslims and Islam.

Muslims are under the attack of various world leaders and western countries. 9/11 was the point that brought a flux of change in the mentality of the Western world. This incident also provided an opportunity for the people who have an anti-Islamic sentiment. After this incident, the United States attacked Afghanistan, and there are approximately 0.5 million casualties in Afghanistan. Pakistan also has paid a heavy price and lost 0.1 million lives against this war on terrorism. The economic disasters that Pakistan is facing nowadays are also due to this war on terror. Now the USA wants to withdraw his forces from Afghanistan with Pakistan’s help through the dialogue with the Taliban. In the beginning, America had not paid heed to Pakistan’s suggestions to resolve the issue with dialogue. This world crisis also points out the importance of dialogue and communication. Here Imran khan discusses the essential factors, facts, and figures that were behind the war on terror as well as the consequences that the Muslim world has faced after the incident. The victims of this war are mainly Muslims across the globe. Muslim World, especially Afghanistan and Pakistan, can not forget their sacrifices and losses in this so-called war on terror. The USA and Europe introduced various terminologies for Islam as radical Islam vs. modern Islam.

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During his visit to the United Nations General Assembly, on 27th September 2019, he describes his point of view and tries to portray an accurate and exact picture of Islam. His speech shows his firm belief, unity of thought, a clear conscience, peacefulness of mind, and strong oratory skills. It is believed that his statement was energetically and consciously crafted. This study is going to examine the corpus analysis of this speech. The fundamental goal of this study is to evaluate the use of stylistic devices in the speech. Paper will also investigate how orator describes his strong religious beliefs and concerns regarding Islamophobia in the West. The presenter also explains the accurate picture of Islam tactically. Here he not only pays condolence to the victims of the 9/11 incidents but also points out the behavior of Europe and West as well as various definitions of Islam as per their conscience, they how they blame Islam for such incidents. He portrays an accurate picture of Islam and inspires the world to reconsider their behavior against Muslims and Islam.

A Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly
Imran Khan

2 Theoretical Underpinning/ Literature Review

Stylistics mainly focuses on investigating the style of the writer in the text; the text may be literary or non-literary, but the style of the text is the writing style. Stylistics examines the use of metaphors, similes, intonation, and all other literary devices in the text. It analyses the different features of the text that are used consciously in text. Various authors use these stylistic devices in textual production for communicative reasons. Does stylistics answer the query of how a document is configured by, as well as why it has such a structure? How concerns ‘the form, the architectonics,’ while the why is the ‘axis of interpretation and speculation’ (Salman, 2013:114). The study of the style is essential, an interpretive effort, that force is an elucidation of the conduct of the substance (Osundare, 2003). Stylistics is an effort for revealing the linguistics peculiarity of the art of the author. So this perspective conceives style as an idiolect. According to Crystal and Davy (1969:77), when someone studies the work of an author via this theory, in this way, he attempts to describe, define, isolate and discuss linguistics features that are considered; this also helps the work of a particular author from other authors.

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Therefore, the identification of authorship underlies the effort of stylistic that employs this theory. Somethings are also overlapped here, and this can be dicey for some certain unifying factors in textual production. The style of the text or speech is also evaluated in terms of deviant forms in a piece of work and its communication implications. There are set norms and rules for standard writing, and the style is a deviation that is identifiable and analyzable. According to Lawal (1997), accuracy and appropriateness are the norms of standard varieties of language. Here efficiency means the grammatical correctness while appropriateness is the social acceptability of that very particular thing. Nonconformity to these, therefore, amounts to deviation. There are four types of variation, according to Todorov (1971:31); quantitative, qualitative, syntagmatic, and paradigmatic. The quantitative difference is the frequency of occurrence, and the qualitative deviation is from the standard of grammar, the syntagmatic deviation is from the norm preset in the text. At the same time, paradigmatic is from the rules outside of the textbook. The difference is not considered a mistake or error. It is done consciously and motivated by communicative needs.

The primary purpose of this theory’s application is to explain the needs and requirements through the deviant forms as style is considered a choice made from among competing and variant options inherent in language for textual constructions. According to Simpsons (2014:22); There are multiple ways to use language system resources to point out the same thing in a textual representation. What is of interest to statisticians is why from several possible ways of representing the same happening, one particular type of depiction should be privileged over another. As per Lawal 1997, In-text composition, choices are conditioned by sectional possibility and constraint in language. However, language does not necessarily incapacitate its users through these prescriptions as adventurous users can liberate their styles through ‘its elastic edges’ (Osundare, 2003:17). The theory of form as the choice is interconnected with the conceptualization of fashion as a position or the creation of the context. The convergence is grounded on the concept that decisions in Connection or communication are made with the due thought process to the situation.

Effective communication prospers on meaningful decision making mediated by the context of action. Contiguous and more extensive Context-linguistic and non-linguistic; are biogenic to textual understanding. As Azuike (1992) notes, discourse encompasses intertextual and intertextual ordering as well as extra-textual features that are necessary to resolve textual messages. Context is essential to stylistic execution as most choices from the linguistic system are ‘occasioned by the writer’s expectation that the reader will locate the meaning within a broad context’ (Chinelo and Macpherson, 2015:67). Traugott and Pratt’s (1980:29) defines the style as appropriate choices in an available discourse. This posture aligns absolutely with the systemic orientation on language as a system of choice and an asset for meaning-making. These last two theories mainly make up the structure for the investigation as the speech understudy is deliberate and delicate, considering the distant and quick contexts of its arrangement. 

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3 Themes in Imran Khan’s Speech

Imran khan’s speech has developed a curiosity and attracted various linguistic scholars, especially those interested in politics. Multiple scholars have to observe his moves in politics since his entrance in politics after his cricket carrier. This study is going to evaluate Imran khan UNGA Speech delivered on 27th September 2019. There are three underlying themes in this speech.

A Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly
Imran Khan UNGA speech

3.1 Global Warming

In the very first step, he describes his point of view regarding global warming. He tells us how global warming is affecting developing countries. He also points that world is not managing this crisis seriously; even different world level climate and environmental agencies ask for funds and says they have not enough funds to work correctly. Pakistan is among the top 10 countries that have been affected severely by global warming.

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3.2 Terrorism

The very next point that is discussed in Imran khan’s speech is global terrorism. He describes how the world is changed after the incident of 9/11. After this incident, Muslims were the primary victims of terrorism. The so-called War on Terrorism was fought against Muslims. Muslims face consequences of war on terrorism throughout the world. Even the freedom movement that was going on for 60 to 70 years is considered as terrorism movement. Most of the freedom fighters were butchered as terrorists. The world has forgotten what were the reasons behinds these movements. Even the suicide attack was started by the Tamil Tigers, who were Hindus, but the Muslims are labeled as terrorists, not any other community. This thinking leads the world to Islamophobia. Society must revisit the concept of terrorism and differentiate freedom movements from terrorism.

3.3 Islamophobia

Western World and America target Muslims as terrorists. There is hate speech at various platforms against Muslims. Muslim women even targeted for veil and Hijab. It is all due to hate against Islam and anti-Muslim sentiment. Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran khan also describes the western and American views against Islam. Radical and moderate Islam. He strongly condemns this viewpoint and represents that there is only one Islam, the Islam of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. There is no radical or moderate Islam. Some people claim themselves as Muslims, but they are not the representatives of the Muslims. They have their views about life, relations, and society.

On the other hand, real Islam is something else. Islam is a religion of peace, justice, and brotherhood. In the glorious days of Islam, The Caliph of Islam loses his suit against a Jew in the court. There was not any discrimination against any member of society. There was justice, peace, and equality for every citizen. Even the Minorities were safer in the Islamic Caliphate than of the non-Muslim states.

However, how the modern world behaves to Islam, it is a misconception regarding Islam. Muslims are treated in a discourteous way in western countries and America. Even they are not free to practice their religious rituals. They are bound to follow specific rules that are also against Islam. The world must change its point of view regarding Islam.

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4 Levels of Stylistics Analysis

Stylistics analysis of any piece of writing, speech, or movie can be done at various levels. Here is the list of most prominent levels for the stylistic analysis of a text.

4.1 Phonetic Level

The phonetic level is the study and examination of speech organs in the production of speech sounds. At this level, the researcher examines the articulation of the speech organs. 

4.2 Phonological level

The phonological level of any text is the study and examination of the sounds of the words. At this level, the researcher studies the various characteristics and sound patterns of the words. This level primarily focuses on the pronunciation of how words are pronounced.

4.3 Graphological level

It is the analogous study of language’s writing system, the formalized rules of spellings.

4.4 Grammatical level

Syntactic and morphological levels are discussed at the grammatical level. So this level not only analyzes the internal structure of the sentences of a given text but also examines the functioning of the sentences in different situations. It also examines the verbs, nouns, clauses, phrases in the sentences, and the use of these things in various sentences that make a change in the class of sentence as; simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentence.

4.5 The lexical level

This level examines the patterning of words into meaningful sentences, different linguistic discourse; on the semantic level in terms of stylistics. 

5 Analysis of the Speech of Imran khan

Imran khan tries to describe the reality that Muslims are facing in the current scenario. His mission is to moderate and portray an exact picture of Islam to the world. Here he has a plan to change the mindset of the world against Islam. His speech describes the essence of Islam in the modern world. Here he not only sympathizes with the world regarding terrorism but also explains that Islam is a peaceful religion. Islam gives the lesson of justice and peace. In the Islamic state, every citizen has an equal right, and none is superior to others. Every citizen has fundamental human rights.

A Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly
Imran Khan

He uses different sentences to strengthen his point of view. Quite observable in his attempts at accomplishing this orientation is his business of the varied and various sentence types. One reason for this is to enable comprehensiveness considering the problematic nature of the task, and another is to show his vigor and conscious bid to justify his mission.

This study is going to examine the speech of Imran Khan at Grammatical level. The analysis will examine the use of various sentences as simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences and their functioning in speech. The table below presents the various sentence types in the whole speech composed of 234 sentences for the discussion of three main themes.

Serial number Type of sentence Frequency
1 Simple 110
2 Complex 30
3 Compound 62
4 Compound-Complex 32
5 Total 234


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Simple sentences are most frequently used in Imran khan’s speech. These are used for various stylistic reasons. These are mostly used to convey the orator’s idea in a more straightforward way and ask a question from the audience. Here question means using Interrogative sentences to attain the attention of the audience.

E.g., “How would the Europeans react? How would any human community react? Are we children of a lesser God?”

These simple interrogative sentences depict the orator’s primary transactional motive in the encounter. Here, the orator uses simple interrogative sentences to put a new soul in his ideas and draw the listeners’ attention. With the help of his words, he tries to convey a clear message regarding the various crises the world faces in modern times, especially the victimization of Muslims. Speaker uses a foregrounding feature, and the thrust of his speech is an effort to define various problems in the world. Simple sentences reinforce arguments in the discourse as some tone of conclusiveness naturally happens in their briefness. A sentence is chosen to reinforce arguments in the text. Its brevity is occasioned naturally by some tone of finality. It is also attended by some frantic attempt at indoctrinating the hearers. In his description of the globe as a haven of oppositeness and imperfectness, he identifies Politics, Science, and religion, which are a production of man’s intellect as the beginning of many wars witnessed across the ages. He substantiates his description regarding Islamophobia through various consecutive simple sentences as some are mentioned below:

“The West could not understand what the problem was. They do not look at religion the way that we do.”

In these sentences, he tries to portray his message regarding the difference between Muslims and West’s thinking about how the Muslim world observes religion as well as the point of view of the West about Islam. The melody and combination of simple sentences uncover desperate move to convince as it begets some ‘frenetic or fast-paced feel’ (Simpson, 2014:6) to the whole statement. The various simple sentences are functionally and constitutionally parallel with the semantic meaning. They convey a loud and clear message to the audience about the problem that the orator is going to discuss. Simple sentences are successfully and stylistically put in the text of the oration is to juxtapose the polar effects of the Terrorism, Islamophobia and Global Warming, an endeavor to emphasize the appetizing side of the unfortunate event. For example;

“Pakistan is among the top 10 nations in the world affected by climate change. We depend on rivers, we are mainly an agricultural country.”

“We detected 5000 glacier lakes in our mountains. If nothing is done, we fear that humans are facing a huge catastrophe.”

After the simple sentences than the compound, sentences are used most frequently in the speech; compound sentences are two same or opposite ideas in one sentence. In these sentences, one part of the sentences describe something while another part provides more information regarding that very point or explains it. At different points in his speech, Imran khan uses compound sentences to endorse his argument and commitment.

E.g., “How will we spend on our 220 million population when the ruling elite plundered our money? Moreover, when we located properties of these corrupt leaders in western capitals, we find it so difficult to retrieve it.”

In this speech, the use of complex and compound-complex sentence has the same ratio approximately. It is not extraordinary in a political discussion, and the complexity of the task before the utterer is another consideration. In the early part of the speech, Imran khan attempts to provide the rationale for the gathering, leading to his choice of complex sentences and compound-complex sentences. A complex sentence has one dependent and one independent clause. So, the ideas in the complex sentences are interlinked, and the dependent clause conveys its message with the help of an independent clause. The constructive parallelism is actuated by the passion of the speaker to answer tolerably.

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“A woman can take off her clothes in some countries, but she cannot put more on.”

In such types of sentences, the orator is going to describe the things that are interdependent with each other. Here is some question from the speaker to hosts, which may be merely rhetorical as they gather to convey their point of view. However, for the speaker, it requires tactically premeditated answers. The paralleled structure is planned to highlight the speaker’s rational motive for the fabrication: to ponder and elaborate. The choice of complex sentences instead of compound ones, however, requires a different stylistic argument. Each of the two sentences includes an agentless nonfinite passive clause.


“In my country, when I took charge of our government a year back, in the ten years preceding that our total debt went up four times.”

“As a result, the total revenue we collect in one year, half of it went into debt servicing.”

A Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly
Imran Khan

This study observes the first part of the sentence in describing one thing, and the second part is elaborating the idea in the first part. So, the independent clause conveys an idea, and the dependent clause explains the idea further. So, Imran Khan has described various points in this speech with the help of complex sentences. The compound-complex sentence also works in the same way as a compound sentence. Imran Khan further attempts to elaborate the reason for the speech is made through the grammatical resources of infinitive and adverbial clauses. These stylistic devices are not unusual in the context of defensive communication, persuasive speech, and orientation discourse.

Imran khan establishes his argument at this platform of UNGA and elaborates its point with reasons. He describes the general context of the Western and American belief in some form of communication between the dead and the living, between the person with Islamophobia, between the victim of corruption through the infinitive clauses presents the message. This message is strictly the need to meditate: look at themselves (inward) and think carefully (take stock) of their present situation and future expectation. The same elaboration is achieved through the choice of the adverbial clause of purpose. With the help of these devices, it is obvious that the emphasis of the speech is more on the need to ponder. Here Imran khan makes his utmost efforts to influence the Psyche of the audience. His primary aim is to describe the international community’s role in corruption, Terrorism, Islamophobia, and global warming. He tries to deemphasize the 9/11 incident’s uniqueness and its effects on the number of stylistic resources. As a dissected sentence, the prevenient subject, it, and its national equivalent, the facts of Terrorism, Islamophobia, Corruption, and Climate changes are the same since the latter is a qualifier complement of the former. The prima clause is also backed up with a relative clause making the sentence complex. The sentence is a defense. It is achieved through negation marked clearly.

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The antonymous incidents cited through with paratactic clauses above are common in history-making them discursive and disenchanting. The negation device is advance utilized by the speaker to inflict a present orientation for the hosts as his concluding paragraph shows:

“I blame some people in the West who provoked Muslims. However, this is where the majority of the Muslim leaders let the Muslim community down. Our Prophet (PBUH) was the witness to our Divine book, the Holy Quran. The Prophet (PBUH) is the ideal we want to live up to. He created the state of Medina, which was a welfare state.”

Quite outstanding in the speech is the orator’s utilization of the paradox of life in his ingratiatory act. He takes life as the broader context of his evidence.

Various stylistic devices are added on to relate humanity’s contradiction to the cause of after 9/11 incidents and forbid the necessity of the accusation of America or any other nation. It appeals to the listeners’ emotions that every human being can cause massive destruction for humanity. As he says about the Islamophobia and disrespect for Muslims and Muslim women in these words:

“A woman can take off her clothes in some countries, but she cannot put more on?”

“How will an average American differentiate between a moderate Muslim and a radical Muslim?”

In these sentences, Mr. Khan describes what situation Muslims are facing all over the world. World’s view has been changed against Muslims and Islam. Even Europe and America that consider themselves the champions of human rights. Muslims cannot perform their religious rituals publicly. Muslim women cannot wear Hijab and veil in Europe and America. Women have the right to take off their clothes or undress as much as they can, but on the other hand, a Muslim woman has not the right to wear their religious dress. According to Mr. Khan, Muslim leaders also have been failed to describe Islam in real sense. Even if some Muslim woman is wearing Hijab and veil, she can be attacked and faced a higher degree of violence. Moreover, the more dangerous thing is that most European leaders have justification for such attacks on Islam and Muslims.

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He describes that none blamed religion for terrorism before the incident of 9/11. In his own words;

“About Suicide attacks; because the 9/11 bombers made suicide attacks, all sorts of theories came out like those about virgins in heaven. This bizarre thing happened where suicide attacks were equated with Islam.”

“No one bothered researching the Tamil Tigers and the Japanese Kamikaze bombers. No one blamed religion when they carried out suicide attacks and rightly so because no religion teaches violence.”

In these lines, he describes the history of suicide attackers and bombing. Before 2001, a suicide attack in America, none have blamed any religion for terrorism. Because people considered that if someone does something terrible, it is his badness and sin, while religion is not responsible for that. Nevertheless, as the 9/11 incident happens, the world turns all of its weapons to Islam and differentiate it in radical and moderate Islam. They started attacks on Muslim lives, properties, and worship places. Even India is vandalizing Muslims’ properties throughout the country and butchering Muslims on the name of Islamic Terrorism. These all are obnoxious evils that Muslims are facing nowadays. There is not any law in the world for the protection of Muslims. Everyone who belongs to some other religious group can target Islam and Muslims. Even some of the so-called Europeans attack the Muslim sacred personalities and Prophet Muhammad PBUH. In Mr. Khan’s words;

“And every 2-3 years someone would malign our Prophet (PBUH), Muslims would react, and the west would term them intolerant.”

It is an illegal practice that provoked Muslims because the concept of Muslims regarding religion is different from Europe and America. Governments in Europe and America must take necessary steps to stop Islamophobia.

Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly
Imran Khan

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“The audience is reminded subtly of the high frequency of destruction by man and the great ease with which violence is justified in life through a conflation of exclamation and interrogation. This device is used stylistically to solicit the agreement of the audience “(Quirk and Greenbaum, I973).

Another way this is described through the choice of successive topical themes that collectively project human conscious and socio-religious effort but also equally mark man’s imperfection. This emphasis is reflected below:

“Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace…Nevertheless, no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. Nations arise, telling stories that bind people. However, those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize… Science allows us to communicate…and fly… But those same discoveries can be turned to ever more efficient killing machine.” (p.11-13) Johnstone (2008) notes, “people’s prior knowledge of a persuasive task makes them consciously design their discourse for a strategic purpose.” 

6 Conclusion

As the analysis (A Stylistic Analysis of Imran Khan’s Speech at UNO General Assembly) reveals, the speech is entirely rhetorical, informative, reality base, defensive, and persuasive. Its rhetorical leaning is evident in its identification of the two sides of the issue at discourse besides the speaker’s identification with the listeners. It acknowledges the depth of terrorism, corruption, and Islamophobia. The expressive style is targeted at untroubled the speaker’s acceptance, garner the listeners’ attention, and set the tone for the grieving and pondering tasks identified by the speaker as reasons for the speech in gathering. The address is deftly designed as defense through some stylistic resources of juxtaposition, generalization, and negation. The fundamental purpose of oration is to change the world’s conception of Islam and Muslims. It is done by appealing to their emotion and reason, exploiting their belief in venerating the dead, and emphasizing the real worldwide peace.


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