Plain Talk Australia
Australia is currently in an election. I’ve always been of the belief that Australia (which I’m not overly knowledgeable about, granted) is not unlike the United States in it’s political landscape. There are the liberal coastlines, a Red State interior, their Liberals are actually rather conservative, and there are a collection of righter-then-right-wing parties who seem to get an alarming chunk of the popular vote but luckily for everyone, split the whip-bibles-at-gay-people vote at least three ways. Another similarity between the Australians and the Americans is their love of plain talkin’ leaders. In Australia, they’ve gone so far as to hold seminars on how to speak in simple English because they find their politicians so incoherent.
My first reaction to this was ha! Christians. So silly. If God didn’t want you to use lots of words, then why would he have programed a thesaurus into Microsoft Word? (Just kidding. That was Bill Gates, who is powerful yes, but also invented the Zoon.) Then I actually had a look at some of the language Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was using… and I now I take it all back.
James, director of the Plain English Foundation, will this week host a panel discussion titled Programmatic Specificity We Can Believe In at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
The title is taken from one of Kevin Rudd’s famous verbal vomits when he warned the Australian public not to expect “detailed programmatic specificity” from the Copenhagen climate talks.
James, who writes on plain English in the Times Literary Supplement, says Rudd makes two mistakes in his speech.
“There is his use of complex language, such as the time he told the Brookings Institution in Washington DC that our relationship with China was ‘a complimentary that could be developed in a form of conceptuous synthesis’.
“His other mistake is the use of Ockerisms which don’t ring true.”
Yeah. He couldn’t say “our relationship with China is good, but, ya know, it could be better”? This isn’t slippery Bill Clinton talk, this is Jack Donaghy at the Six Sigma retreat. On the other hand, his opponent, Tony Abbott is as plain talkin’ as they come, but still manages to sound like a retard.
And Abbott, a staunch Catholic, also speaks plainly about himself: “At the risk of sounding like a gay, lame churchie loser, which my daughter called me once, you’ve got to be ambitious for higher things.”
Well, Mr. Abbott, I know you’re trying to come off as your run of the mill, self-deprecating. Australian catholic priest/Dad but quoting your 14 year old to make a legitimate political statement is hardly better then your opponent, who merely garbles economic-y sounding words that people invented in 1980 to make Ronald Reagan sound smart. This is particularly unambitious because you couldn’t even wrangle a sound bite out of your kid that didn’t make her sound like a snarky bigot.
Anyway, I think we’ve found another shallow election to follow. We’ll all be seeing these bitches again.
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