November 18, 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" witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tic, 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 speak 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 runs the risk of sounding like an elitist."
The President-elect's stubborn insistence on complete sentences has already sparked a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Governor 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."
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