Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Cunning Linguist Has Sarah Palin's Number

Tonight's must-read is at, of all places, the New Republic, where bona fide language expert and actual conservative John McWhorter claims that he can see Sarah Palin's mouth moving, and he can hear sounds coming out of it, but it takes him a really long time to figure out what it all means.

And what it all means, hilariously, is that Sarah not only talks like a toddler, but thinks like one, too. Neat!


Fran said...

Great article - thank you. The money paragraph for me:

"I don’t think Palin’s phraseology is actively attractive to her fans. Rather, what is remarkable is that this way of speaking doesn’t prevent someone, today, from public influence. Candidates bite the dust for being untelegenic, dour, philanderers, strident, or looking silly posing in a tank. But having trouble rubbing a noun and a verb together is not considered a mark against one as a figure of political authority."

One sign of an empire dying is the loss of language.


(i hope i do not get in trouble for linking to something... I think it is on topic!)

Matty Boy said...

I'm not a language expert, but I think McWhorter is tougher than he has to be about "perceived whine". I took Sarah's meaning to be "Hillary may not think she is whining, but other people hear it anyway." Of course, Sarah has a perceived whine in spades and trump. The last time I checked, people perceived that to be irony.

He's right that Palin's trouble with language isn't much like the trouble both Bush the Elder and Younger had, but as a teacher, I see similarities between the work of unprepared students and the off the cuff answers of Palin almost always and Bush the Younger occasionally. Words are strung together and ideas that occur for even a moment are thrown in with the hope that putting two things in the same sentence is the same as making a strong logical connection between them.

Bush's answer to a question about tribal sovereignty back in 2004 is somewhat Palinesque, though she probably would have thrown in something about salmon and tax cuts for good measure.


Aunt Snow said...

I enjoyed the article mostly because it was really analyzing her use of language. I think he's spot-on that she's just uttering the thought-processes as they occur in her head. Loved the analysis on her verbal tick of using "there" all the time - very interesting.

And he's right that there's a difference between her verbal inarticulateness and that of other political spoken words - I think its because she has such a narcissistic belief in her own ability to communicate that she doesn't bother to prepare, just opens her mouth.

samael7 said...

I'm going to read the article, but I have to say that this is one of my new favorite SparklePix (or PeteyPix, if you prefer).

It's of a piece with Condi Rice as the Bad Seed. They're like some sort of horrible, madness-inducing, gruesome bookends.

Karen Zipdrive said...

Palin not only talks and thinks like a toddler, she talks and thinks like a recalcitrant toddler.