Wednesday, 31 March 2010

What is Obama’s Contribution to the English Language?

Gone are the days of Bushism, when the rest of the world (and thinking Americans) made fun of the Texan with a horrendous linguistic ability. Now we have the yes, we can do man of erudition and touching oratory.

Obama’s supporters rejoice in the fact that he is one of the greatest orators in American history. His detractors claim that talking is the only thing he can do and his mastery of the language is a veiled conspiracy to drive America to ruin.

It is too early to make any fair assessment of his performance or to “misunderestimate him as George W Bush would probably like to, but one thing is sure. He has inspired many new English words. Some of these came from unlikely quarters. Some people in the far right, who love to hate him if only because he isn’t white like George W. Bush, came up with new words to attack him.

New English Words Inspired by Obama

Obamanomics – A word coined to attack the economic policies and measures to rescue the sinking economy. This word is already accepted by prestigious publications like New York Times and The Economist. There is a book by an investment banker called Obamanomics – John R. Talbott
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Obamanation – Is a twist from abomination. The Urban dictionary defines it as “The horrible state of affairs that results after Barack Obama won as president; OR The fanatical obsession that has swept the United States in support of Barack Obama.” There is even a bestselling book ObamaNation by James Corsi

ObamaficationThe process a country goes through when a person is elected leader of that country and destroys it from the inside out. Definition from Urban Dictionary

Message to Obama from a fan Photo source

Obamacare – Republicans who love to hate President Obama have called the prez’s health-care reforms Obamacare.  There is a website full of acid criticism. This word is used is many articles already and reputed magazines like Harper Magazine use it regularly.
You can laugh about Obamacare too.
Q. Why is Obamacare like an apple a day?
     A. It keeps the doctor away.
Q. What is the difference between Obamacare and a car battery?
     A. The battery has a positive side.

Obamaland – is equally popular with the prez’s detractors and Republicans. There are many serious books as well as a political satire with poems and tales by Robert Thomas and a witty book by a Brit, James Delingpole. 

Obamamania – Very popular word during the election and the first few months of the presidency. Critics say that the whole world went crazy and a cult-like following even landed him the Nobel peace prize. Often used in articles and books like this one

Obamalicious – Another word invented by the far right to slander “the black boy from Hawai” as this video clip does. But not all use of this word is against the prez. This clip is in favour. The infamous Rush Limbaugh uses words like this often when he says "I want Obama to fail"!
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Obamanator - Is someone who is suave in style and can debate anything in politics with supreme skills, but the word has to be used in a pejorative way to instill the fear of doomsday. If you want to scare even the die-hardiest Republican, there is a site called Obamanator up for sale. 

Obamaphobia - This is an obsessive and paranoid fear of Obama. This can lead to strange and often delusional ideas e.g. about the birth certificate of ObamaConservatives use it consistently as a warning, e.g. in this site.

Some other not so common words are Baractogenerian (from Barack + Octogenerian, meaning someone born latest in the eighties = an Obama supporter over the age of twenty) or an Obombre (from Obama + Hombre = a Spanish-speaking male who supports Obama). 

Maybe you catch such a new word by following Obama on Twitter.

Do you know any more words influenced by Obama?

Obama's Favourite Speech Phrase

The top place for Barrack Obama's speech phrases is not Yes, we can but it goes to "Let me be clear!"

Then another phrase, also used by President Bush, is "Make no mistake!" Another phrase Obama uses profusely - "Now is the time!" can also be found in Dr. Martin Luther King's speeches.
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Some people have accused President Obama of using the same phrases over and over in all his speeches. Parents, teachers and preachers do that rather often. Is that a major sin, after all? Isn't repetition mater studiorum est (repetition is the mother of all learning)? 

Obama's Speechwriters

The president of the USA is a rather busy person and needs a lot of people to help him. So he also has a speechwriter. In 2009, Jon Favreau was appointed as Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting at a salary of  $172,200 a year.

President Obama uses different speechwriters for different audiences and purpose. Laura Dean is a specialist on women's affairs.

A former speechwriter, Jon Lovett nowadays amuses himself by writing jokes, among other things. Read more about him here

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The Real Difference Between Men and Women

The difference between men and women are socially defined in most societies. Tradition, culture and religious texts are often used to support the argument that women would be inferior to men. Women have continued to challenge the power imbalance. As a result, a significant number of modern nations have granted men and women equal rights in the legal frameworks. 

But socially, economically, politically and culturally the domination of men seems to continue.

Do Women Really Have Equal Rights with Men?

It would seem that many men think so. If you ask women, they would rather often tend to disagree. The poll by The Economist 9th October 1999 shows that on average under 13% of women agree that women have equal rights with men. These are the results in different countries:
  • Australia 25%
  • Netherlands 20%
  • Switzerland 14%
  • Belgium 12%
  • UK 9%
  • USA 8%
  • Germany 8%
Should Women Really Have Equal Rights with Men?

Should women have equal rights with men? This very provocative question brings in the influence of culture and upbringing more than any other question.

When the women are asked if women should have equal rights, the same poll gives an average 62.4% (but not 100%) of women saying yes. Notice the great variations among cultures.
  • Netherlands 80%
  • Australia 77%
  • UK 73%
  • Belgium 70%
  • Germany 70%
  • USA 62%
  • Switzerland 39%
  • Japan 21%

Are Women Better Achievers than Men?

Yet another extremely provocative question which gets bogged down in the definition of achievement and how one measure it etc.

Women can sometimes be even better achievers in a typically men’s playfield, politics.
  • In India, 10% of women candidates won elections while 6% of men did.
  • 32% of women MPs had Doctoral or post-graduate degrees while 30% of men did.
This, of course, raises yet another question. Does this kind of result tell more about the candidate or more about the people who choose such candidates?

Physically and anatomically, the differences between the male and the female of the human species are obvious. 

If you are looking for the lost Neanderthals, you are more likely to find them among the males living nowadays. 

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It is the male who is more robust, thick skulled (beyond metaphors, physically, men’s skulls are typically thicker than women’s) and the males constantly seeks to compete in sports, economics or other activities. 

Male brains are also supposed to be different from female brains.

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Physical Differences Between Male and Female Brains

Two areas in the frontal and temporal lobes (Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas) thought to be responsible for language skills show differences. Women have 23% more stuff in Broca’s area and 13% more in Wernicke’s area.

Some researchers claim that male brains have less neurons in the corpus callosum, the part that joins the brain hemispheres, than females, while others dispute it. The cutting edge digital morphometry methods or Diffusion tensor imaging in encephalometric investigations, show that micro-structural and morphological differences are too complex. So, it is extremely difficult to say anything accurate about how brain differences affect how men and women think and behave.

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Is it the Environment or the Anatomy that Dictate Skill Differences?

Could it be that in the dawn of time, men became hunters and gatherers because they had inherently superior navigational skills and being more robust could fight with off animals and enemies? The Society for Neuroscience supports the view that the different roles of males and females made perfect evolutionary sense. Women needed all their communication skills to hold groups together and persuade the men.

Deborah Blum writes in Sex on the Brain
The Biological Differences Between Men and Women” "Morning sickness, for example, which steers some women away from strong tastes and smells, may once have protected babes in utero from toxic items. Infidelity is a way for men to ensure genetic immortality. Interestingly, when we deliberately change sex-role behavior -- say, men become more nurturing or women more aggressive -- our hormones and even our brains respond by changing, too."
During a communication workshop I was giving, each participant had to imagine that s/he was interviewing a celebrity (dead or alive) and the partner had to pretend to be that celebrity. One woman asked her partner to be Eve (Adam & Eve). When asked, 
Why are you always naked?” 
the elegant and voluptuous Eve replied: 
Because I can! I have this beautiful body!” 
This answer expresses a core difference between the essential being of a woman from a man.

A woman is while a man needs to do. For her, being is essential and for him doing is expressing himself.
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Why does Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa keep us enthralled? 
  • Is she busy doing something, achieving, showing off her litter or standing in front of a table full of her cooking? 
  • She is mysterious because she is. 
Doctor Marianus in Goethe’s Faust says in the last lines Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan!” (The eternally female draws us onward!”)

Friedrich Nietzsche, the old male loner sees the interplay between men and women as: 
The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything!”
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The folly of men

William Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing hits on the nail
O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!

A woman has no illusions about a man.
God made woman beautiful and foolish; beautiful, that man might love her; and foolish, that she might love him.” – Anonymous
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Some women would rather ‘season’ their man.

“Men are like a fine wine. They all start out like grapes, and it's our job to stomp on them and keep them in the dark until they mature into something you'd like to have dinner with.”
Kathleen Mifsud

Men can also be treacherous, warns a Hollywood actress, Sharon Stone.

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“Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake a whole relationship.”

Do Men and Women Behave Differently in Similar Circumstances?

“When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.”   Elayne Boosler
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How Women of Different Centuries Communicate!
Where shall I begin? Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?”  Writes Jane Austen (1775-1817) to her sister Cassandra. 
"It is better to be unhappy alone than to be unhappy with someone else." Marilyn Monroe. 
"A woman is like a teabag. It's only when she's in hot water that you realise how strong she is". Nancy Reagan. 
“Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, good mother, good looking, good tempered, well groomed and unaggressive”       Leslie McIntyre (contemporary)