Fun_People Archive
6 Nov
And the body never lies...

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon,  6 Nov 100 20:23:17 -0800
To: Fun_People
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Subject: And the body never lies...

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649  -=[ Fun_People ]=-
Forwarded-by: Dan Franklin

[My favorite linguist on Gore vs. Bush.  You know, I never thought of
watching the debates with the sound off; I wish I had.  - DF]

I'm completely baffled, Gentle Readers; please don't expect me to say
anything illuminating about the language of this election that's bearing
down on us as I type.  This is the first presidential election in my memory
that has revolved around Dueling Dysfunctional Language Behaviors...

Suppose we set aside the words the two candidates are saying, and discuss
only their nonverbal communication -- their posture, tone of voice,
intonation, gestures, facial expressions, and so on.  [What the tv
commentators keep referring to  -- incorrectly -- as "style" or "theater"
factors.  They keep saying, "Shouldn't we be paying more attention to the
words Bush and Gore say instead of to the way they say them?"  NO.
Absolutely not.]

On one side we have Al Gore, who can only achieve approximately normal
intonation under pressure if he's yelling his head off.  It doesn't surprise
me that people are appalled at the idea of listening to him talk for the
next four years, and are alarmed at the idea of what's likely to happen
when he talks to heads of state; that's a reasonable reaction.  On the
other side we have George W. Bush, whose body language makes my skin crawl,
and who comes across to me as the embodiment of every mean rural
stereotypical Southern sheriff I've ever met.

Al Gore breaks my heart, because I believe there's a good and competent
person trapped inside the frame created by his language behavior, trying
to get the word out and failing.  George W. Bush doesn't break my heart;
he terrifies me.  I'm surrounded by people who tell me they agree with
everything I say about Bush, and they agree that it's going to be horrible
having him for President -- but they say they have to vote for him anyway.
Why?  Because Gore would take away their guns, or because Gore isn't opposed
to abortion, or both.  That does surprise me.

	-- Suzette Haden Elgin
	Volume 1, Issue 6 -- November/December 2000

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