Never have the words of an American president been so analysed as those of Obama – notably in the field of EFL / ESOL. A book of his speeches for English learners with accompanying CD has become a national bestseller in Japan, and his speeches have been subtitled and are popping up on many English-learning sites.
This might be an interesting exercise for advanced students working on public speaking skills. Garth Risk Hallberg writing for The Millions diagrammed an excerpt from one of last week’s press releases, with the idea that it might provide an insight into the way Obama thinks. The speech was in the context of a proposed investigation into the conduct of the Bush administration.
My view is also that nobody’s above the law, and, if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen.
is turned into a platform for vague but inspirational phrases:
But that, generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards.
which leaves the hearer with the impression of a forward-looking, progressive Obama, rather than a hardliner. The full transcript of the speech can be found here, and The Millions has Halberg’s full analysis, which gives some good insights into speech writing.