What linguistic strategies did Gandhi use in order to convey his objectives, such as non-violent resistance?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one particular linguistic strategy that Gandhi was able to use to his advantage was to dominate the conversation through the establishment of rapport.  Gandhi's primary success and the vehicle through which nonviolence was advocated did not rest with "eliminate the British."  Rather, his linguistic strategy was to ensure that he could speak in a construction that embraced all Indians.  Through this rapport established, he made it difficult for the British to respond.  Linguistically, if they responded against his ideas, they would essentially be openly conceding what Indians already suspected in that the British did not have their best interests at heart.  Their inability to respond almost seemed to make Gandhi's point for them.  It is within this strategy that Gandhi is able to speak about dietary restrictions and spiritual identity, tracts that did not have to do with Indian Independence on a direct level, but linguistically emphasized the idea of rapport with his audience. Nonviolent, active resistance was also embedded in this.  Nonviolence was Gandhi's vehicle to enhance Indian togetherness, almost stressing that if one person uses nonviolence on their own, they are not as likely to experience its strength if more people use it together.  It is here in which rapport can be seen as an exercise of power, also.   In using this strategy, Gandhi was able to crowd out the British place in the discourse and was actually able to silence them.  The British could not speak, as Gandhi's strategy of rapport constructed a power move.  It was not as if the British could say, "We are against nonviolence."  In conceding the point, they also conceded Gandhi's linguistic development of rapport, which in turn enabled him to have more power.  It is here where one can see Gandhi's use of linguistic strategy as rapport into power represents how his thinking and ideas were not merely sound on a moral plane, but held profound political savvy, as well.