Sunday, September 9, 2012

Obama’s English


“TWO aspects of President Obama’s acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night were of linguistic interest. The first was “signifying” — the use of indirect humor as critique, and a much discussed feature of black speech. “My opponent and his running mate are ... new ... to foreign policy,” he said, adding the two pauses for great comedic effect. The second, and more familiar, was the soaring crescendo, beginning with “in the words of Scripture, ours is a future filled with hope,” in which Mr. Obama demonstrated his strongest mode of linguistic performance — the black preacher style — to end his remarks (“knowing that providence is with us and that we are surely blessed”).”

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