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Rosie Right

The faculty members then used a computerized dictionary of charismatic themes and language to analyze these words — both before and after 9/11 — for their underlying meaning.

According to the researchers, led by professor James R. Meindl, after the terrorist attacks Bush changed his language. His words now have no hint of "passivity"; instead, the president has begun using more active words such as overcome, dismantle and prevent. He also has used fewer ambivalent words like might and almost.

This change in language toward the forceful could mean that Bush's personality and intentions have changed. But the president has speechwriters, and what the presence of these "ghosts" means to any psychological study is anyone's guess.

Meindl has been studying the "charismatic" factor in language and background for some years, and during the 2000 campaign he used a six-point scale to judge the comparative charisma of some of the candidates. The results told him, he wrote, that McCain led the pack followed as a "distant second" by Bush.

Meanwhile, we are reminded again of the importance of language and its ability to reveal more than we intend when we use it.

Help the Oxford English Dictionary

The OED is looking for uses of the following phrases that are earlier, or in some cases later, than the dates in which they have already found. If you can help them send the information to oed@oup.co.uk.

do someone's head in (confuse, annoy, etc.): uses before 1989

nickel-and-dime (adjective): uses before 1937

easy peasy: uses before 1976

noir (noun: person with black hair): uses after 1687

Good hunting!

Let Rosie hear from you by telephone (358-0825, ext. 322), letter (1707 Summit Ave., Suite 201, Richmond, Va. 23230), or e-mail repps@styleweekly.com.

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