Friday, January 25, 2008

The Psychology of Language

I don't often comment on politics here, for a variety of reasons, but I have been growing increasingly distracted while listening to political commentary lately.


Because people always refer to Senator Obama as "Obama" and to Senator Clinton as "Hillary."

As in, "I'm a Hillary supporter," and "I'm an Obama supporter."

It just strikes me as odd, and it makes the nascent linguist in me wonder: is this laziness (saying "Obama" and "Clinton" would make people want to clarify which Clinton) or is it inherent, deeply-disguised gender bias (it's permissible to be more informal with a woman)?

Or is it something else entirely?


Amie said...

I think it's because there's already a well known Clinton and some people might find it confusing. But, having said that...if you're talking about who you're supporting in this upcoming election I would certainly hope people would know who you were talking about. So many it's something else entirely! :)

Amie said...


SpooWriter said...

See, the latter is why I suspect that, at least at some level, there's more to it than which-Clinton-do-you-mean?

For instance, in the 2000 elections, I don't recall people being confused by George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. There were those that referred to the current President Bush as Dubya (cough! myself included cough!) or George W., but that was primarily in a dismissive or derogatory way.

It's not that obvious with Senator Clinton, but I do wonder.