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
Photo source


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"!
Photo source


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.
Photo source: 

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

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