Yes We Can

The Web of Language dealt extensively with the Obama inauguration from a linguistic perspective,  citing in detail the incident of the flubbed Presidential Oath.

In addition to the discussion around language and the hyper-correction instinct of the Chief Justice, which probably led to the hiccups of the Oath. There were a few facts that I found quite interesting:

The Presidential Oath was administered again, correctly this time, to satisfy constitutional requirements, and for this repeat performance President Obama did not use a bible.  A bible is not required in the US constitution, but the gesture can be also understood as another nod to nonbelievers after they were mentioned in his speech alongside all other religions.

President Obama is a lefty. Wink to ex husband : No more talk about some deficiency in the brain that leads to being lefty. We are among the smartest and the best, and now we have a president ! Yes We Can !

Note about left-handedness: The writer on the Web of Language said that Obama was writing using the lefty hook. Apparently teachers in the western world taught students to hook their left hand towards them so they can better imitate right-handed writing.  Most lefties I know here in South
Africa use this method of writing, which strikes me as completely unnatural. I grew up in the Middle East, and therefore my teacher tried to suppress my left-handedness and direct me to use the “right” (correct) hand. When it was established, however, that my handedness was a fixed matter, I was abandoned to my fate, and to figure out how to hold the paper and pen. I do not hook my hand, I just tilt the paper to suit my dominant hand. Now if for some reason the writing surface cannot be tilted, I would have a problem.

South African Cynicism

Our own Cape Times came out today with a full transcript of President Obama’s Inaugural Address, so now I have a record for it. Later I found a blog with embedded segments of the speech and its transcript, so I got to watch it, long after the excitement about the whole thing subsided, but I cannot complain since my time is not my own.

The Cape Times opened with the headline : The Age of Obama Begins, and the picture was of him taking the Oath of office. The thing that gave me a chuckle, however, was a tiny cartoon near the bottom of the first page.

Here it is :


For more hilarity visit the Cape Times website.

When I Missed the Man who Made History

I walked past a coffee shop in Sea Point in the late afternoon and they had their televisions on CNN broadcasting the inauguration of the first US President of African descent. I am one of the few people who are missing out on this historical occasion, because when I moved with my son to our own place, buying a television was not among our priorities.

Since his election Barack Obama featured prolifically in South African news and media. And while South African media rarely pays attention to foreign political events, Obama features strongly, perhaps even more strongly than our caretaker president Kgalema Motlanthe. Mr. Obama has us riveted because of his African descent and his powerful message to the world.

For me Obama is a little bit of hope in a hopeless world. Perhaps his policies will not differ much from other Democrat presidents, perhaps he won’t be able to do a lot for the Middle East, and he certainly will not be able to save the world as we all would like him to do. But we will always remember that he delivered us from the insanity of George W. Bush.

On a more personal level, he is the “the voice”. I love listening to him speak. That is why, again, it was a shame that I missed his inaugural speech. I will have to settle for its highlights on the internet.