Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama's Name Wins Election Thanks to Language Acquisition

From a linguistic point of view it makes perfect sense that Obama won the election. The name Obama is easier and more natural to say than the name McCain. The reason the name Obama seems to roll right off the tongue so naturally is that the sounds and sound patterns in his name are consistent with some of the first sounds and patterns children make when they are acquiring language. In other words, we have known these sounds and patterns longer than any others.

Beyond crying, some of the first sounds a baby makes are cooing sounds which are basically vowel sounds, for example: ooh, aah, and eeh. Obama has three separate vowel sounds compared to McCain's one.

The next step in language acquisition is babbling which consists of repeated consonant vowel combinations (CVCV), for example: mama, dada, and baba. In linguistics the repeation of sounds and structures is called reduplication. Thus it can be said that Obama has a reduplicative name, in fact the last two syllables of his name sound an awful lot like a baby's babbling (O - bama).

And finally, when it comes to the acquisition of consonant sounds, those that are most commonly acquired first are: b, d, m, n and h. The only consonants in Obama's name are included in the list of consonant sounds that are known to be acquired early (O - BaMa).

With this linguistic analysis of Obama's name in mind (the many vowel sounds, the consonant sounds that are acquired early and the pattern of reduplication), it is no wonder Obama won the election.

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