Saturday, September 18, 2004

The zinger ratio

If you watch any kind of news at all, it cannot possibly have escaped your attention that there is an American presidential election race on. Given the huge influence American politics is having on this country, we should all be taking an interest, though I do have to confess to finding my finger on the telly zapper every time Bush or Kerry appear on screen. I can't listen to any more jingoistic nonsense about Iraq and Vietnam, but what IS really interesting is the way that the campaigns are being fought linguistically.

In the first link here, Philip James analyses the two candidates' election speech styles. Though perhaps a little personal in tone, he's well on the way to an A Level in English Language with this - his comparison of the two men's average sentence lengths and the impacts these create, for example, is bang on the money. And given the fact that the guy is a former senior Democratic party strategist, I'm guessing he knows a thing or two about political speechwriting.

The second post is a truly bizarre account of how "gyno-talk" is being used in the election campaign to try and win women voters round to either side.
"Gyno-talk??!!??", I hear you shout. "What on earth is that?!"
Well, that's a very good question... But since you ask, "gyno" is a prefix denoting a female reproductive organ.
"But how on earth is that being used in an election campaign??!!"
Honestly, read the article and weep...

After that there is only one thing that will cure your mind - cheer from the rooftops, raise the flags, and kiss the ground before Aaron Sorkin's feet, because The West Wing is back on terrestrial TV. This is American politics I can cope with - the key players are witty, intelligent, articulate and sensitive; and difficult decisions are only made after much soul searching and debate. It is just about perfect scriptwriting - though check out the top tips in the last link for how not to tackle your Original Writing coursework! I also have it on very good authority that one of the consultants on last series was a real live speechwriter for Reagan and Bush - so grab the popcorn, kick back on the sofa and watch the magnificent Jed Bartlet in action! (And enjoy telling your mum it's your English homework.)

Plenty there - zap us your thoughts when you're done!

Rambling Kerry gets himself lost

Enough with the vaginas!

Next week on The West Wing - erm...


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