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The Prime Minister's Speech

By Alex Landragin·In Speech & oration·Tuesday, 13th September 2011The Prime Minister’s SpeechCould the Prime Minister’s poll woes be linked to the words she uses? Sydney Morning Herald national reporter Jacqueline Maley has written an op-ed in the daily today suggesting the stiffness with which Prime Minister Julie Gillard delivers her scripted speeches might help explain why her messages don’t seem to cut through in the electorate.
While Julia Gillard is a lively speaker when speaking off-the-cuff, writes Maley, it’s a different story when she’s reading a scripted message:
Gillard obfuscates when she should illuminate, uses many words when a few would do, and confuses messages so badly that voters would be forgiven for thinking she’s deliberately trying to mess with their heads. She ends sentences with prepositions (“I explained that we had a High Court case that we were working through our response to,” she told journalists last week), speaks in the passive voice and uses multiple subjunctive [sic] clauses, which tend to bloat her speech. She has a habit of doubling her adverbs - using two when one, or none, would do.
For more on the art of political speech-making, watch or listen to this video/podcast of our recent event, ‘Unaccustomed as I am…’, where speakers read from some of their favourite speeches. We’ll publish the video/podcast of last night’s Don Watson event shortly, and further afield, former PM Paul Keating will visit the Wheeler Centre to promote the publication of a collection of his post-prime ministerial speeches, Afterwords.TopicsSpeech & orationWords & languageShare✉Related posts20 Oct 2015NoteBooks from the Present for the Future  /  Publishing & editingGuest post by Susan Hawthorne11 Jul 2015Note‘I’m Sorry’: from speech to song  /  MusicBy Jon Tjhia, Suzannah Espie, and Clare Wright 6 Dec 2010Translating Australian English  /  Words & language
Last week we offered some untranslatable words that you might use on holidays and our commenters came back with some even better suggestions including some home-grown suggestions. One anonymous commentator suggested the excellent Australianism, ‘dag’. Their explanation gave played out the subtleties of the word that’s evolved beyond the barnyard. “You can explain the unpleasant farming origins of the word but it’s difficult to…23 Aug 2011Oxford Dictionary Finally Gets Into Sexting  /  Words & languageBy Alex Landragin
The 12th edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary has been hauled into the 20th century, with a number of first-time additions to the dictionary reflecting the rise and rise of online culture. New words include cyberbullying, denialist, jeggings, mankini, retweet, sexting and woot (informal [especially in electronic communication] used to express elation, enthusiasm, or triumph). Some…29 Jun 2011NoteSo birds do grammar, but how’s their algebra?  /  Words & languageBy Alex Landragin 9 Oct 2017Note‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘When’… Interrogative Words Rated out of Ten  /  Words & languageBy Sophie Quick


The Wheeler Centre


The Wheeler Centre Collection




13 September 2011