Laurels for Barack Obama: A Linguist Recognizes His Speech Language Prowess!

Here is another news on the new American President. Mr. Barack Obama is praised by a linguist, J J Payack, president of the Texas-based Global Language Monitor on his acceptance speech in Chicago. According to him the Obama speech ('Yes, We Can' shown in video below) compares favorably with a number of historic orations. [CNN reported this story a while ago.]

Payack said:

His goal was to be understood by the widest possible audience during his victory speech, and he seems to have done a great job doing it. He's at his best communicating directly and forthrightly with this audience and using different types of rhetorical devices

Well, that's really a laud for Mr Obama. What less is expected of one of the greatest students of the Harvard Law School anyway.

Payack also reported the grade points the famous speech given by history's most prominent politicians. The scores ran thus:

John F Kennedy: 10.8 for his Inagural speech.
Ronald Reagan: 9.8 for his 'Tear Down This Wall' speech.
Abraham Lincoln: 9.1 for 'Gettysburg Address'
Martin Luther King Jr., : 8.8 for 'I Have a Dream'.

Obama ranked below them at 7.4 for the speech.

Payack's break down of Obama's speech assumes a special importance to CW, since we also deal with professionalism in linguistic devices.

Payack, in the report, cited twelve examples of variants of the word hope and a lower percentage of passive voice usage. The breakdown was thus:

Reading Ease72.4
Passive Voice11 %
Overall Grade7.4

The Video of Obama Speech in Chicago Grant Park:

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

2 Opinions:

  1. Obama is intelligent and shrewd,and he's proving it in more than one way. I'm pretty sure he has many surprises in store for his critics and enemies.

  2. An interesting development!

    A new international language, named after Barack Obama, has been launched to challenge the global language, Esperanto.

    It is called Obami and can be seen at

    However Obami will have a lot of work to do to catch up with Esperanto.

    Esperanto is now within the top 100 languages, out of 6,000 worldwide, according to the CIA factbook. It is the 17th most used language in Wikipedia, and in use by Skype, Firefox and Facebook.
    Native Esperanto speakers, including George Soros, Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet, and World Champion Chess Player, Susan Polger.

    The World Esperanto Association enjoys consultative relations with both the United Nations and UNESCO.

    Evidence can be seen at


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