Saturday, 16 February 2013

Literacy: Obama SOTU hitting new lows in dumbed down language

The picture says it all.  Is Obama just making it clearer or are people less literate? The left hand numbers are the estimated years of school you'd need to get a handle on the speech.  It's pretty clear the trend is down, way down, but may not all be bad.
Chart source Guardian via Zero Hedge.
Obama came up with lines like this: "We do big things." "That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful...They're right. The rules have changed....So yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real...The future is ours to win...Now it's our turn."
This is pretty thin soup. Though I think it's decline, here is an offset:
It's been happening for hundreds of years:
The above information from L A Sherman is reported on page 120 of this readability study.

Another offset: The King James Bible despite it's old vocabulary has short sentences, short words and a easier readability score than the SOTU speech and the NIV is similar to Obama's speech.

If you're interested, there's the Flesch-Kincaid readability school grade score (used in chart above) and the Flesch readability ease index, and the Fog index.
You can do your own ratings in Windows WORD.

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