Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sarah Palin Writes at a Higher Level than Hemingway or Twain

Arianna Huffington sicked her blog hounds on the trove of Sarah Palin emails released by the State of Alaska on 6/10/2011. By midnight on 6/13/2011, this was about all they could come up with to tweet:

"Sarah Palin writes like a 14 year old."
The source for this disingenuous proposition was an AOL Weird News article. If you read the actual article, it is technically true that the two experts consulted placed her emails at the eighth grade comprehension level (8.2, 8.5) but both said Sarah Palin had an "excellent score for a chief executive."

Somehow that didn't come out on twitter as "Sarah Palin writes well" or for that matter as "Sarah Palin writes as badly as Arianna Huffington" or "Our CEO Arianna Huffington also writes like a 14 year old."

You see the Flesch-Kincaid readability test counts how many average words are in each sentence and how many average syllables are in each word. The sentence "Arianna Huffington has two daughters" scores 12.3 whereas the sentence "Sarah Palin has two sons and three daughters" only scores 3.7.

Take a sentence like this from Arianna's own bio:

Both a withering indictment and a hopeful call to arms, "Right Is Wrong" makes the case that America has been hijacked from within by the "lunatic fringe" of the Right that has taken over the Republican Party - enabled by a compliant media that act as if there is no such thing as truth and are more interested in cozying up to those in power than in holding them accountable.
That scores a 28.9, which means it is written like its author wasted 13 years getting through graduate school after high school and college. To be fair, Arianna's bio as a whole scores a 13.7, the level of a third-trimester freshman in college - not quite sophomoric in other words.

If Arianna had studied communications in college, like Sarah Palin did, she might realize that a lower grade level comprehension score makes one easier for others to understand.

The great American author Ernest Hemingway was known for his short, declarative sentences. For example, his short story "The End of Something" scores only a 2.7. Mark Twain's short story "Advice to Little Girls" scores a 4.3 and does have some pertinent advice for this situation:

Good little girls always show marked deference for the aged.
You ought never to "sass" old people unless they "sass" you first.
By the way, a CNN analysis of the October 2008 VP debate found that Sarah Palin spoke at tenth-grade level, while Joe Biden spoke at the eighth-grade level, which supports my contention that Palin is smarter than Joe Biden.

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