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Greta Thunberg Speech with Loaded Language

A correct speech in the right place and at the right time can change the course of history. The phrase “I have a dream,” is now something more significant than a regular sentence. There is also a place in history for those speeches that failed and considerably lowered their speaker’s authority. Often authors want to provoke an emotional response to their address, loading it with anger and hatred. However, while making such a speech, if one tries too hard, he or she can achieve the opposite effect of the expected one. Such an unsuccessful example was the speech of the eco-activist from Sweden Greta Thunberg, “How dare you” in September 2019 at the UN summit. Even though the girl prepared carefully, she was able to provoke only conversations and rumors about her mental health and not a response to the deplorable environmental situation.

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Greta Thunberg gained worldwide fame, promoting ideas about the inevitable ecological disaster waiting for the Earth and criticizing politicians for their inability to solve this problem. Her actions quickly found support and response among the population of various countries, and the girl was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I chose to analyze her speech at the UN summit because it is full of loaded language, and several aspects are highlighted that would help improve the effect. The emotionality and load of the language were manifested in phrases such as “How dare you,” “You have stolen my dreams,” “empty words,” “crystal clear,” and many others (“Transcript: Greta Thunberg’s,” 2019, para. 3, 4, 5). Furthermore, Greta used tone, and facial expression trying to convey her message. However, several mistakes made reduced the influence of speech and Greta herself.

Before the talk, the activist calmly answers the question of her message, but as soon as she begins to make a speech, the expression of her face and the tone of her voice change. This action suggests that she consciously chose such a pitch for the performance. The problem is that the audience did not have time to get ready, did not understand why aggression suddenly arose. Her speech lacked personal history and reasoning to be more persuasive. The phrase about stolen childhood would effectively sound from the mouth, for example, a girl who lives in a conflict zone. Greta came from a prosperous country, she has a family, and the opportunity to attend school. Instead, she should have used not just a loaded language but to explain why she could not go to school and wait for adult politicians to solve climate problems. Further, her address was more reasoned and referred to scientists, but such a beginning did not allow listeners to perceive everything correctly.

Thus, in this speech, Greta failed to select the necessary words to form the perception of listeners. At the same time, in order to convey some message to the audience, it is crucial to describe something in those meanings that are more familiar to them. In order for the speaker to be correctly understood and perceived, he or she needs to adapt to the target audience, which binds his own values to certain words. That is, the statements from chapters 3 and 4 relate to each other – people give special meanings of phenomena and words, and appealing to these values makes language a powerful tool. The activist’s speech made a contradictory impression on me – I admire the courage and commitment of this young girl. Although her address was not the most successful, she made many inspiring actions and other speeches. I believe that each society can develop its own meanings and attach values to some phenomena.


Transcript: Greta Thunberg’s speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit. (2019). NPR. Web.

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