Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Trump speaks like a sixth grader but that`s ok
Bit of doublespeak from Allison Jane Smith [Washington Post]
"When speaking to or writing for a broad audience, it’s a best practice to speak at an eighth grade reading level.. More than 40 percent of Americans have only basic literary skills, according to a 2003 assessment. And even highly educated people prefer to read below their formal education level."
"A presidential candidate wants to be understood by all voters, from immigrants whose first language isn’t English to those with advanced degrees in linguistics. Trump rarely uses speechwriters, yet he’s grasped one of their principles: It is more important to be understood than to use $10 words. The simple way Trump speaks does not make his supporters think he is speaking down to them. The opposite, in fact, appears to be true. `He’s . . . talking to us not like we’re stupid,` one supporter said in a focus group conducted in December..."
"The Flesch-Kincaid index measures Ernest Hemingway’s `The Old Man and the Sea` at a fourth-grade reading level. William Faulkner famously insulted Hemingway by saying, `He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.` Hemingway countered: `Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?`"
"Politicians want to evoke big emotions. They are better at doing so when they emulate Hemingway rather than Faulkner. Trump will never send anyone to the dictionary, but why would he want to?"
"This does not mean Trump is a perfect public speaker. He is at times nearly incomprehensible. It can be impossible to sift through his sentence fragments and run-on sentences to find the ideas they contain. In many cases, they don’t communicate ideas; they communicate feelings, and often ugly ones."
"But I can’t fault him for using simple words — it’s what every public speaker should do. Those criticizing him for it reveal their own ignorance, not his."