Monday, April 11, 2011

Parsing Presidential Language

In the April 4 issue of the New Yorker Adam Gopnik reviews The Most Human Human by Brian Christian. Gopnik references his Philadelphia boyhood and visits to the Franklin Institute.

Of interest to the linguistically intrigued is this note on presidential speech patterns:

The two best Presidential communicators of recent decades had distinctive vocal previses that did a lot of their talking for them: Ronald Reagan's "Well ..." mean "Despite your attempt to antagonize me, I'm still going to appeal to plain old placid common sense," while Obama's "Look ..." means "Forgive me if I sound impatient, but if you'll actually examine the facts in the case you'll see I'm right."


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