Obama YES WE CAN Victory Speech Ranked

Obama “Yes, We Can” Speech Ranked With “I have a Dream,” “Tear Down this Wall,” and JFK Inaugural


Austin, TX, USA November 7, 2008 – In an analysis completed earlier today, the Global Language Monitor has found that Barak Obama’s “Yes, We Can” speech delivered Tuesday night in Chicago’s Grant Park ranked favorably in tone, tenor and rhetorical flourishes with memorable political addresses of the recent past including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s   “I have a Dream” speech, “Tear Down his Wall,” by Ronald  Reagan and John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.  GLM, has been tracking the language used in the debates and speeches of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates throughout the bruising 2008 campaign.  In nearly every category, from grade level to the use of passive voice, even the average numbers of letters in the words he chose, Obama’s Victory Speech was very similar in construction to the speeches of King, Reagan and Kennedy.


“As is appropriate for a forward-looking message of hope and reconciliation, words of change and hope, as well as future-related constructions dominated the address,” said Paul JJ Payack President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor.  “Evidently, Obama is at his best at connecting with people at the 7th to 8th grade range, communicating directly to his audience using simple yet powerful rhetorical devices, such as the repetition of the cadenced phrase ‘Yes, we can’, which built to a powerful conclusion.”


Obama’s Victory Speech also was similar in construction to his 2004 Democratic Convention address, which first brought him to widespread national attention.


The statistical breakdown follows.




  Obama Victory Speech   Obama 2004 Convention
Words 2049   2238
Sentences/Paragraph 1.8   2
Words/Sentence 18.9   20.0
Characters/Word 4.2   4.3
Reading Ease 72.4   67.5
Passive 11%   8%
Grade Level 7.4   8.3


For a future-oriented message of hope and vision the passive voice was used frequently but effectively. 

Examples include:  “There will be setbacks and false starts.”

It was also noted that Obama spoke in the authoritative voice of the future Commander-in-Chief with such phrasings as, “To those who would tear the world down – We will defeat you.”

Some commentators noticed the absence of the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in the 2001 terrorist attacks from Obama’s catalogue of significant events of last 106 years.

Historical comparisons follow.



Kennedy Inaugural Address 10.8
Reagan ‘Tear Down This Wall” 9.8
Lincoln “Gettysburg Address” 9.1
Martin Luther King:  ”I have a dream” 8.8
Obama 2004 Democrat Convention 8.3
Obama Victory Speech “Yes, we can” 7.4


About The Global Language Monitor

Austin-Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture, with a particular emphasis upon Global English.

For more information, call 1.925.367.7557, email info@GlobalLanguageMonitor.com, or visit www.LanguageMonitor.com.




See also:  Obama as a Top Word of 2008

See also:  ObamaSpeak

See also: Final Debate — Candidates Differ Sharply

See also:  Obama Acceptance at 9th Grade Level













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