The Analysis of Steve Jobs's Speech

The Analysis of Steve Jobs's Speech

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2012 Babes-Bolyai University Duta Ovidiu Ionel


I shall try to analize the speech that Steve Jobs gave in front of the students of the Stanford University in 2005.

„I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.” This is the first paragraph and it underlines the general direction of the speech given by Steve Jobs. The use of „I” will show that this speech will be given from personal experience and will contain stories that have a direct link with Steve Jobs. The verbs used make use of the story telling techniques: told, tell, tell. This is the first step in the analysis, seeing how this speech is constructed. Very personal and with an emphasis on the stories rather than on advices given in a general manner. And Tropes says that there are 7 episodes and the speech involves the narrator by using throught the text the pronoun „I” in an abundant manner this being a characteristic of a speech given when a life changing event has occured in the life of the person giving the speech. The case of Steve Jobs was its diagnosis with cancer being the most recent event and its succes at Apple from 1976 and the stories and legends surrounded by this company. The technical analysis underlies stative verbs close to 50% of the total ammount and only 25% of reflexive verbs. This is a characteristic of story telling using verbs that relate to a description and focus on creating a general image for the audience. Although the main character is Steve, the main subject is how from his actions others could learn and benefit. That’s way verbs like: do, make, know, look in corelation with nouns like life, coolege, work create a visual experience for the students present on that day. In terms of adjectives, Steve Jobs uses objective adjectives and we all know his great experience in telling a story and presenting a product to the audience and making it look extraordinary, either if it’s the case or not. The same thing can be applied to his speech, a lot of adjectives are used to create the sensation of greatness: finest, first, all of, entire, every, priceless. In relation to the nouns like: university, money, job, career, moment, life, minute make his speech be uplifting for the students in pursuing ideas that others would think crazy and create the sense of respect for their learning environment as well the respect of their life and their purpose on earth. The pronouns department says that out of all of the pronouns used, „I” is the most used in over 50% of the time and after that „you” showing that the speech has the personal aspect as well as the exemplary aspect being used to show to others the cause and effect of someones actions. For you, the students, from I, Steve Jobs, that sums is up very well.

The speech begins with his statement of dropping out of college in front of students graduating one of the most prestigious universities in America. The irony makes that the speech has a bigger impact for students although some would doubt if education mattered if Steve Jobs dropped out and became so succesfull. But in the following lines he explains how and when education is the most important aspect of someone’s life. So this irony is only just as a starter to understand the final message of being educated, either in a university or learning on your own. After explaining the basis for his life story, Steve uses dialogues in his speech to give a sense of simplicity and real life situation to the students because the lack of dialogue would have made the speech too exemplary and without substance taken from real life discussions like: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." These dialogues create a more open discussion between Steve and the students in from of him makin