Saturday, October 04, 2008

Spinninng out of Control

I had planned to say little about the Biden-Palin joint appearance, mostly I am deep into something approaching denial at the mere chance that she and McCain could be elected anything--well, not denial so much as fear for the republic. It's not so great, after all, that it could survive a McHate/Wink-wrinkle-nose administration, but this morning bright by early, I recalled that the forces of Enlightenment, Reason, Humanism lost long ago, that anti-intellecltualaism in America is so deeply ingrained that it even passes itself as "scientific," as witness this analysis of the language of Biden and Palin by an Austin-based company, Global Language Monitor. The claim is made that Palin spoke at a 10thh grade level, Biden at 8th. The difference appears due to the GLM computer deciding that 'passive voice' is advanced because it 'obscures the doer of the actioin,' Paul Payack, president of Global Language Monitor, told CNN. "Doer," indeed. "Obscures?" As in: The analysis was done by a computer? Or The final word was uttered on his way out the door by her mother who said, 'but the cat was run over by the car not me, and it had been chased by the dog into the street in the first place." But I digress. Payack's analysis declares the following Palinism at grade level 18.3--graduate school--presumably because it uses a lot of words: "What I would do, also, if that were ever to happen, though, is to continue the good work he is so committed to of putting government back on the side of the people and get rid of the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington." At least now I see why students take a pile of words between the initial cap and final punctuation for high-quality advanced academic writing--they're taught it by people who don't themselves understand that the essence of good, intelligent writing is not sentence length or number of syllables in a word or the lame-ass use of passive voice; rather, it is lucidity.

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