4) Listeners are also variable and unreliable. The same passage may strike one person as entirely lucid and another as so incoherent as to be hardly human. This effect is especially strong for people, groups, ideas, or ways of talking that elicit strong negative emotions: a hated celebrity, pronunciations or usages associated with a despised group, conceptual pet peeves, and so on. We've discussed many examples over the years, but perhaps none has been clearer than the Plain English Campaign's 2003 Foot in Mouth award to Donald Rumsfeld for his "unknown unknowns" remark.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Is Palin Incoherent?
The excellent Language Log has two connected posts about the popular accusation that Sarah Palin speaks incoherently. The first, Bebop Language by Mark Liberman sets out the idea that exact transcripts of even brilliant speakers make them appear to be incoherent. This is echoed and commented on by Lizardbreath at Unfogged: I Think There's Something Wrong With The Methodology Here, who relates it to court transcripts. Liberman takes it back up again in an excellent summation Speaking (in)coherently, with reference to Donald Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns," and political speech in general. An excerpt:
Posted by Assistant Village Idiot at 9:36 PM