My Photo


  • Creative Commons License

« The Book (obscenely condensed version) | Main | According to an actual Iranian in Iran, the administration’s silence helps the cause. »

Sunday, 14 June 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Can we say "shifting the goalposts," boys and girls?

Ed Whelan

Your argument rests entirely on your unfounded and mistaken assertion that the speeches of Judge Sotomayor that are being criticized were "unscripted." In fact, Sotomayor's Senate questionnaire response makes clear that she is providing copies of "prepared draft texts" of her speeches. It is those "prepared draft tests," not after-the-fact (and non-existent) transcripts, that are the target of discussion.

James T

The name "Bench Memos" has a very appropriate 'reject' undertone to it ("Sorry Ed, gonna have to leave you on the bench for this one!"); this kind of sophistry would get them blacklisted from the lucrative field of village idiocy.

James T

Sorry, it's rude of me to say "them" when Ed's right here in the room, so to speak...

That she wrote the speeches beforehand does not ameliorate your failure, Ed (namely, your assessment of a speech as something other than a speech; funnily enough, it would probably behoove you to have a read of Scott's criticism of Zach Snyder's little Watchmen movie, which undertook a similarly thankless task); but by all means, hoist that dudgeon high!


Lucky Ed didn't vanity-google the version of this at EOTW or he would've "outed" SEK.



First, you ought to read the links to your own site.

Second, you ought to read the other links, too, because I addressed the problem with treating speeches as written documents even when they're written down at length in one of them. A "prepared draft text" isn't a written document in the manner you want it to be. For example, I deliberately misspell certain words I have difficulty pronouncing when I rehearse my presentations, so if I presented you with a "prepared draft text" of one of them, you'd find it riddled with errors designed to prevent someone who spent eight years in speech therapy learning how not to sound deaf from stumbling over his own words. (It's also why---and this is to the audience more than Ed---you'll never find me discussing squirrels ever. I simply cannot, no matter how hard I try, wrap my lips around the word.)

Ed Whelan

SEK: You say that you “chafed” at “criticism of Sotomayor’s unscripted speeches,” and you lead your readers to believe that folks have been criticizing speeches that were “transcribed after the fact.” As I’ve pointed out, what folks have criticized are Sotomayor’s “prepared draft texts” (her phrase) of her speeches. In other words, your entire post rests on the mistaken premise that her speeches were unscripted.

I don’t dispute that the text of a prepared speech will read differently than the text of an essay. But I don’t see how that observation bears meaningfully on the criticisms that have been offered.

Rather than acknowledge your error, you instead fault me for not recognizing that your links might indicate that you could have written a different post in which you tried to defend Sotomayor’s scripted speeches.

Karl Steel

Bracketing the argument at hand, which is Scott's: now that we have your ear, EW, I'd to point out the obvious. Obama's going to get his justice, almost certainly S., but, if not, someone else who's, like S., closer to liberal than conservative core values. So, what's your point? Are you just aiming to keep a Harriet Miers-grade lightweight from the court? Maybe? Just throwing you a line here, because it really seems to me that you're wasting your time.


nobody (outside of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) speaks in paragraphs

Before I move to my actual comment, I'm going to put a disclaimer right here: I'm not an academic, my wife is, and she'll probably clobber me for trying to describe her work. And I can't give a direct cite, because I don't have the reference handy. But...

A couple of years ago, my wife did a poster session on speech errors, and while I don't entirely remember the point of the poster, I remember this: there was a strong correlation between error rates and the structure of the paragraph. If I remember correctly, planning-related disfluencies occurred early in paragraphs. Interesting to me was the fact that the paragraph structure they used for the analysis came from transcripts.

The transcripts were done by a third party, who listened to the original spoken material and structured it however they felt was appropriate. But the error rate correlation *matched* the structure the transcriber provided, implying that the speaker had a similar structure in their mind while speaking.

So there may be some evidence for a natural spoken paragraph.

Dr. Psycho

Ahistoricality, Republican goal posts are no longer even dirty on the bottom, because they never stay in one place long enough to be driven into the ground.

The comments to this entry are closed.