Trend: Disillusionment, Anger & Outrage
on the Rise Since Obama’s inauguration
‘Deficit of Trust’ and ‘Numbing weight of our political process’ appear to be keepers
Obama State of the Union at 8th Grade Level; Deft use of Passive Constructions
Austin, TX February 1, 2010. According to an exclusive analysis by the Global Language Monitor, the disillusionment, anger, and outrage acknowledged by President Obama in his State of the Union address has been on the rise since Obama’s election in November 2008.
“Much has been written about what the President in his State of the Union message called the ‘numbing weight of our political process’ and the ‘deficit of trust’ it thus engenders,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst. “The disillusionment, anger and outrage should not be a surprise, especially to students of political language, who have been analyzing what is being said in the political realm over the last 18 months. (That this comes as a revelation to our political elites, however, should serve, once again, as a sobering lesson or, even, cautionary tale.)”
Though little noticed by the media, GLM found that in early February, just weeks after the Obama inauguration, the ‘words of despair and fear relating to the global economic meltdown were drowning out those of hope in the global media in the ninety days since the US presidential election on November 4, 2008’.
The representative fear-related words chosen: Fear, Despair, Abandoned, Desperate and/or Desperation. In its analysis of the global print and electronic media since the US presidential election, GLM found that those words were used with 18-23% more frequency than compared to their use in the ninety days following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 of 2001 and 90-days following the beginning of the Iraq War in March 2003. (Even the word fear, itself, was at some 85% of the level it was used in the aftermath of both the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the onset of the Iraq War.)
In a separate but related study released in late March, Global Language Monitor found that the word ‘outrage’ had been used more in the global media that month than anytime this century, with the previous benchmark being the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In particular, the word was used in association with the AIG bonuses, which had recently been distributed.
GLM examined the global print and electronic media for the seven days after the following events: the 9/11 terrorist attacks in, the start of the Iraq War, and the week after the Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
The ranking of ‘outrage’ usage in the media:
1. AIG Bonuses, 2009
2. 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
3. Hurricane Katrina, 2005,
4. Iraq War, 2005
State of the Union Linguistic Analysis
In an evaluation of the State of the Union message, GLM found that the President used the passive voice to deflect responsibility (a time-honored SOTU tradition), and according to the White House transcript there was an overabundance of semi-colons (two dozen plus), some used correctly others in a baffling manner. And then there was the grammatical lapse in disagreement in number: “Each of these institutions are (sic) full of honorable men and women ….” For the record, the President’s address came in at the 8.6 grade level, use of the passive was about 5%, the Grade Level was 8.6 (a bit higher than his Grant Park speech), and reading ease at 62 on a scale of 100 (not as easy to read as to hear).
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