Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy

Rusiko Amirejibi-Mullen r.amirejibi-mullen at qmul.ac.uk
Wed Nov 19 10:29:16 UTC 2008

Obama's Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy
Stunning Break with Last Eight Years

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack  
Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight  
years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political  
observers say.
Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS'  
"Sixty Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox  
verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct  
sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.
But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public  
pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last  
eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.
According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of  
Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a  
President who speaks English as if it were his first language.
"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in  
agreement," says Mr. Logsdon.  "If he keeps it up, he is running the  
risk of sounding like an elitist."
The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete  
sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay,  
subject, predicate, subject predicate - we get it, stop showing off."
The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences  
has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov.  
Sarah Palin of Alaska.
"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way  
that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder  
can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into  
what Americans are needing also," she said.


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