The positives: A content (or Textual) Analysis of an address to nation by [Former] Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Hon. P. J. Patterson on Sunday March 21, 2004
Paul Andrew Bourne
The Department of Community Health and Psychiatry
The University of the West Indies
The positives: A content (or Textual) Analysis of an address to nation by [Former] Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Hon. P. J. Patterson on Sunday March 21, 2004
This paper seeks to analyze one of the many national broadcasts by the Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Percival James Patterson. The speech can be seen as a philosophical construction of a set of political truths (which I will call ‘positives’) that begin “Tonight, I want to …share some very positive information with you”. (Jamaica Information Service, 2004, p.1, the bold is for my emphasis). Thus, one of the challenges of quantitative research is to capture such meaning from peoples’ actions and to understand their explicit and implicit motives. Nevertheless, some degree of quantitative methods can be used to carry out such inquiry and this will be forthcoming in this text. The PM’s broadcast is to refocus the current perspectives of the public, which is different from his truth. The recurring positives and their synonyms are a case in point that he wants a new way of thinking. Importantly to note that the PM is a political agent as such, he wants the public to hold a particular stance, which cannot be opposing those of his government. Owing to the fact that this will be a clear positive for the Jamaica Labour Party, the PM is covertly reconstructing the People’s National Party. Thus, while he overtly communicates some achievements and interesting wants the nations to be optimistic, his primary concern is to portray a positive image of his party and government. The text has a total word count of 1,556 works of which 603 were unique such as development, expansion, growth, economic earnings, foreign exchange, fund, investment, positives, target, tourism, sector, workers and Jamaica. There are some 64 sentences, of which the average word per sentence is 24.34 words with 20.2 % of the words being 3-syllable, 14.1% 4-syllable, 16.4% 2-syllable and 25.5% between 7 and 10-syllable. It has a readability of 38.75% (i.e. lexicon density), while its reading level (fog index) is relatively high (14.69). It supersedes that of the New York Times (i.e. a fog index of 11-12) or even that of the Times magazine, which uses a fog index of 11. In order to understand the reading level of the PM’s text, I will forward an explanation. Technical documentations normally use a fog index (i.e. reading level) of between 10 and 15 and professional prose uses 18 and beyond. Hence, the broadcast is both a campaign strategy and a political maneuverings of the social truths of the people, using political language and political realities.
The symbolic side of politics calls for attention, for men cannot know themselves until they know what they do and what surrounds and nurtures them. Man creates symbols and they sustain and develop him or warp him (Edelman un, 1)
Truths are not necessarily facts. They are simply social construction, which are evolving with humans’ existence, which is driven by connotative and denotative meanings. Hence, when someone speaks of ‘truth’ it is primarily to elicit a certain response of the listener. The individual may decide to use fastidious vocabularies to create a message. I will be intrepid to say that the difference between the message and the handling of the message can be seen in various political speeches. It is the human language, on the other hand, that we use to capture ‘motives’ of people, which will be forthcoming in this presentation. This text seeks to analyse the messages that are encapsulated in a certain political broadcast. The speech can be seen as a philosophical construction of a set of political truths (which I will call ‘positives’) that begin “Tonight, I want to …share some very positive information with you”. (Jamaica Information Service, 2004, p.1, the bold is for my emphasis). Thus, one of the challenges of quantitative research is to capture such meaning from peoples’ actions and to understand their explicit and implicit motives. Nevertheless some degree of quantitative methods can be used to carry out such inquiry and this will be forthcoming in this text.
Unlike quantitative research, qualitative methodologies and methods and mixed methodologies allow the researcher to interface with the participants and by so doing he/she [the researcher] is able to provide in-depth information on people’s motives for their actions (see for example Krippendorff, 2004; Neuman, 2000; Babbie, 2000). This approach (mixed methodologies) aids in the understanding of the crunched number, which is the reason for the use of content analysis. My rationale for the selection of this ‘speech’ is embedded in my – (1) love for the artistry of words, and (2) because of a fascination of the motives that is embedded in the composition and styles of the former Prime Minister’s speeches - The Most Hon. P.J. Patterson, in particular this one. This paper is a ‘content analysis’ of the state of the Nation’s broadcast on Sunday, March 21, 2004 by the former Head of the Jamaican parliamentary Executive. I will use a combination of both latent and manifest content analysis because this approach will give a better grasp of the messages within the speech. Essentially, more emphasis will be placed on connotative meanings because they provide a better understanding of the chosen words, and there frequencies.
The use of content analysis, herein, lies in the non-inclusion of the researched participant and his non-acceptance of this study. However, I will be using this opportunity to test a position that he [PM] was not able to conceal his disbelief that the Jamaican economy was undergoing significant challenges. The context of this paper must recognize that The Most Hon. P.J. Patterson is the former Prime Minister of Jamaica but within the time in which the speech was given he was the Prime Minster, hence, I will use (from henceforth) PM to present the former Prime Minister and not the current Prime Minister. I choose this text (PM broadcast) because of the influence the PM has within the state, and because the media in particular the electronic one is able have over its viewers as a pivotal agent in the socialization process.
The Jamaican PM, like many other statesmen – present and past, including George Bush, Senior and Junior; Bill Clinton; Adolph Hitler; Winston Churchill; Saddam Hussein- are political beings, and so they subscribe to the usage of varying political jargons. These vocabularies have specialized meanings, for desired outcomes. Essentially, meanings are hidden in people’s motives, and the language is the craft of those meanings. Interestingly, political leaders are associated to a party, which may be paramount to him/her. Thus, political discourse is clear in stating that the leader will use ‘loaded language’ for some desire motives. Hence, I will analyse the PM’s broadcast for implicit and explicit meanings.
Political forms thus come to symbolize what large masses of men need to believe about the state to reassure themselves. It is the needs, the hopes, and the anxiety of men that determine the meanings. But political forms convey the goods, services and power to specific groups of men (Edelman un, 2)
On March 21, 2004 the PM of Jamaica opens his presentation to the nation’s populace by saying that:
“Tonight, I want to bring the nation up-to-date on a number of domestic issues and share some very positive information with you. “(Jamaica Information Service, 2004, p.1).
One of the purposes of language is not merely to communicate through the usage of words, but it is the embodiment of a people’s culture. These include their biases, mythologies, preferences, rationale, and their socio-psychological milieu, which they will craft to explain what their ‘truths’ are (or are not). From the opening note of the PM’s speech there is an undertone that a gap exist between the ‘truths’ of the society and those held by his cabinet. Hence the statement “…I want to bring the nation up-to-date on a number of domestic issues...” This note implies that the Ministers of government have not outlined the ‘full’ truth to date, which requires him to do so. In the same breath, the speech begins with a negative fact of neglect, and his willingness and timeliness to not just inform but to ‘share’ with the public, ‘positives’. Such a stance is unequivocally advocating that ‘truths’ held by the populace has some amount of negative, to which he will now clarify.
The PM’s philosophical stance is that of correcting some wrong; but there is an overarching issue of the use of I’s. Within the PM’s text, he used I four times, excluding its usage in only one paragraph. This is a clear indicator of the PM’s supremacy and autonomy as the final dispenser of particular knowledge, within the context of the government. It does also speak to the ‘self’ that the PM believes he brings to finality. Whereas someone may think that this is a naturalistic position of statesmen, the use of I’s within the speech with such fluidity and in quick succession is an indicator of display of power. The argument that I use to justify this premise is simple. On each occasion that they were used it was of primate importance, and a show of him taking charge of the important decisions of the nation. I [the writer] will use the illustration below, and I’s [PM] to explain covert motives:
In my address to the nation in January, I had outlined our time-table for bringing our National Budget into balance and the targets we had set …;
I explained then that one of the critical elements necessary to help control government expenditure was containing the growth of the public sector wage will …;
I once again commend the union leadership and membership …It bodes well for the building of the spirit of unity which is so vital at this time. (Jamaica Information Service, 2004).
Even within the general team to which the PM belongs, he sought to use a singular pronoun. This practice was excluded on one occasion, in which he said “...I had outlined our time-table for bringing our National Budget into balance and the targets we had set ...” (Jamaica Information Service, 2004). In this one sentence he used our twice for emphasis of a team, along with we. Similarly, he commences the immediate paragraph with “I explained...” and this was also the case when he said “I once again commend...” Thus, this is a clear self portrayal within context of an institution while still paying minimal attention to others is a show of supremacy. Deconstruction this text shows that while he uses I, this is contextualized within his government in the process of development. Hence, this does explain why government was the most used world along with the positives such as development, growth, expansion, and others.
The first six paragraphs are primarily personalized, and the PM paid much attention to outlining the route in which his administration should be assessed. In the last of the first six paragraphs, the PM sought to inform the viewers of fundamental reasons his administration, with the usage of positive messages through particularly selected words. This is to be the deep-seated essence of the presentation, highlighting positives within the negatives. The word ‘positive’ is used 5 times with the single speech. On each instance when it was used, the purpose was to either inform – “...some very positive information with you”; speak to neglect - “with positive performance, this mechanism is expected to contribute to the improvement of our international credit rating and a reduction of the cost of borrowing in the external market place” (JIS, 2004); or for pensiveness – “We are continuing discussions with other categories of public sector workers - and hope that we will also be able to reach an equally positive conclusion” (JIS, 2004, p.2).
Political Language: Meanings and Intents
Language is an expression of intent, which allows the speaker to impose his/her beliefs (i.e. his/her truths) on the listener. The overarching principle within this is the meaning (or intent) of the giver of the information; and the motives in the usage of certain words, the tone and the apparatus of the social construction. Thus, it opens a deeper understanding of the cognition of the speaker, which is not embedded in the actual grammar, phonetics or spoken words. From the PM’s choice of words, the use of ‘hope’ implies that he is not sure of the pending result which may unfold – “…and hope that we will also be able to reach an equally positive conclusion” (JIS, 2004, 2). Fundamentally with that statement is his informing the public that on the failure to negotiate a settlement it is not the intention of the government but that of the other participant – workers and their unions (my emphasis).
Within paragraph six, he commences the sentence with ‘We’, which does not imply the public but the Cabinet whereas the second ‘we’ is the consensus pronounces between the government and other stakeholders – workers and their unions. They are also used as a medium of information for public consumption, and an appeal to the ‘other categories of public sector workers’, while tying them to any future failure of the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU). It is intended as a tactic of persuasion. As any departure from the signing of the MOU by the civil servants will be interpreted by the public as a failure of that institution to holistically work with the goal of the betterment of Jamaica.
The speech uses the word positive and equally similar phrase(s) and language are unambiguous indicators of the whole intent of the broadcast, to socially construct a truth that is different from that which exists outside of the government. Thus, the PM employs some positive terminologies, some 81 times throughout his presentation.
Figure 1.1: Frequency of typologies of word usage
Source: Paul A. Bourne
From among the plethora of words used, there are particular ones that were chosen primarily because their meanings are reflective (such as, record level; reduction of cost of borrowing; rebound; bearing fruits; growth and development; restoration; stabilize and outstanding performance). (See JIS, 2004). Whereas some are focused on pride and recognition (for example – achievement; single largest source; the JAMALCO story; the IMF case; “Doing Business in 2004 “ - World Bank publication; turnaround of the tourism industry; shorter and simpler; “acceleration of the introduction of new ones that focus on the rights of the citizens of Jamaica and our development agenda). The positives did not cease there as he uses “generate some 2,500 jobs directly in the construction activities on the plant site...” (p. 1) as representation of the government’s assistance in the provision of jobs. This tactic is in keeping with the positive of a rebounding economy post 9/11, along with the other challenges during the current year and preceding years. Despite such projection, the PM did not highlight any probability that this is a projection and thus it may not materialize as other external stimuli may create hindrances to planned development.
I believe that “Man [‘s] capacity to create, recreate, and justify his/her actions is an important mode in the laying of a platform [for further] discoveries [and explained truths]”. Ergo, it is no surprise that the PM said that”
During the first week of this month [March 2004], we took another important initiative when a delegation from the Bank of Jamaica and the Ministry of Finance and Planning held consultations in Washington with officials of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). (JIS, 2004, p. 2).
Language is a tool that is used by the PM to explicate his truths, and these seem ambiguous in the aforementioned paragraph. Should a mere meeting with any lending institution be considered a positive? Furthermore, he adds that the new programme is being ‘favourably considered by the IMF (Fund). Within itself a seeming favourable consideration is not contractual binding, and so tantamount to loose words. As realities of the Fund are not limited to the acceptance of Jamaica’s proposal, neither is it based squarely on considerations.
In an attempt to unveil the positives from the consultation with the Fund, the PM uses words like ‘transparency and accountability’ as anchors of country’s annals. It is clearly to depict that his administration futuristically will adhere to the conditional of the IMF, without contextualizing what obtains currently that the nation is highly corrupt, bureaucratic, and that dishonesty is a function of corruption. Within the same speech he has failed to account for the number of corruptions that have ‘hit’ it’s own political administration. Nevertheless, the PM has offered a social truth that an agreement between the nation and Fund will be forthcoming with accountability and transparency (my emphasis). He continues that an independent authority will assess the benefits and risks that are present within the Jamaican economy, as if that lessens corruption and accountability.
Despite not admitting that corruption is a deterrent to investment, economic growth and development and that this social reality could erode any ‘positive’ that is created, the PM fails to account for a substantive component within his truths. If you are, to argue that corruption was not occurring during the tenure of PM his successor (The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, current Prime Minister) made the statement in her inaugural address to the nation that:
I want to pledge to the Jamaican people to work tirelessly to eradicate corruption and extortion. I am committed to their eradication as I am committed to uplifting the poor (JIS 2006) (the bold is my emphasis)
The monologue is an unequivocally acceptance that ‘corruption and extortion’ are in existent in the Jamaican society, on her taking office from the former PM. This begs the question what are the PM’s truths, and what positives are being forwarded without contextualizing the lived realities of the populace? The PM is cognizant of corruption, as he was a party to a forum at the Jamaica Conference Centre on May 13, 2005. Interestingly, he is equally aware of the country’s rating by Transparency International, 3.5 out of 10 (where 0 denotes that the country is highly corrupt and 10 being the least corrupt), as one of his cabinet colleague, Burchell Whiteman – Minister of Information, remarks on the country’s standing that is a cause of concern. (see Jamaica Observer, 2003).
When the PM speaks that “Doing Business 2004” in Jamaica, the nation was 10th of 130 countries, and that we were the only developing country (my emphasis) with a certain “business-friendly” milieu, he was by omission declaring his party’s political truth. In further analyzing the PM’s position, we being the only developing state with this lofty record without contextualizing its meaning, even by using that “This endorsement will stand us in good stead as we continue to promote investment in our country” (JIS 2004) is just merely operating outside of the national dynamics, the regional happenings and the international climate. In that, even though Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are currently outside of this World Bank’s ranking, their economies are progressively better than ours.
‘Truths’ are the social construction of people. With social construction been fundamental property to this reality, there is no reason to substantiate that a truth must be a fact. Truths are socially defined by a person. They are expressions of people’s interpretation of an embedded socialization. Hence, the usage of the “good news” by the PM is a clear indicator of his political culturalization, and not necessarily a fact. By the choice of the ‘good news’ in the speech, he now captures the attention of the viewers as they way such a situation.
“Good news” is the social construction of simply ‘hope’, another positive. The news is coined in the recovery of the stopover tourists, likely foreign exchange inflows, probable multiple effect of this truth. In attempt to explain the constructed happenings, he points out those USS690 million investments in Jamaica by JAMALCO, the record levels of stopover arrival (i.e. 1, 350, 000, increase of 6.6%) were worth of note. (see JIS 2004).
The PM’s discussion fails to highlight that of the total stop-over visitor arrivals to the Caribbean, annually Jamaica gets approximately 1%, with the Bahamas receiving the majority of the tourists. The increased visitor arrivals, converted in US$, are approximately 100% lower than the increase the previous year. From an economic perspective, Jamaica has directly benefited from the ‘rebound’ of the United States stop-over tourists, the nations has remarkably a smaller increase over the previous year, which translates to lowering in demand for many related and non-related services and commodities. The PM stops short of providing this information to the nation in his broadcast. Another important truth that is omitted is that there is an indirect relationship between crime and tourism product (see Alleyne and Boxill, 2003, 389), which speaks to difficulty that Jamaica faces with this sector, within the context of lower crimes in other Caribbean and non-Caribbean countries.
The PM’s truth may be that the crime situation is real but that it does not impedes growth and development, which means that emphasis (or it worth being mentioning) should not be placed on this as the positives are equally the case but undervalued. Hence, his mission is to inform. If this is the case, it is simplistic and a ‘folly’ in language. Harriott contextualizes the crime reality in Jamaica. He notes that “Between 1977 and 2000, the rate of violent crime has increased from 254.6 incidents per 100,000 citizens to 633.4/100,000” (Harriott, 2003, 35). During this period, the violent crime statistics have increased by 148.8%. Can we say that the fear of crime and/or victimization will not affect other sectors and lived people with our society?
With tourism being Jamaica’s largest foreign exchange earner (see Alleyne and Boxill, 2003), the PM’s failure to provide information on the crime situation and its possibility of explaining the lowered earnings of 2004 over 2003 compared to 2003 over 2002, is another truth that is based on his political culturalization.
Within the last three paragraphs (p. 6), the PM’s political discourse shifted somewhat from the predominance of recurring positives to that of potential positives in which the people are drawn in the core. This he outlined by using the forthcoming speech of Governor General - that will be presented in 10-day times (March 31, 2004). To illustrate how the populace will benefit he looks at (i) ‘revision of current laws’, (ii) “the acceleration of the introduction of new ones”, and (iii) “that [they will – laws] focus on the right of the citizens of Jamaica and our development agenda. (The bold is my emphasis).
Wanting to depict his administration’s programmmes and to show that these are not only futuristic, he notes that in forthcoming budget presentation by Finance Minister, The Most Hon. Dr. Omar Davies – April 15 – special ‘macro economic target’ and ‘policies’ and a ‘development agenda’ will be forwarded. This indicates a tangible and structure system of planning, where benefits will be forthcoming.
Importantly, he contrasted the plans, with a decision taken by the Cabinet to make the budget ‘simpler and shorter’ as an indicator of his administration goal, the people should understand that matter of their importance. It is political language, as the budget presentation within many respects will be specialized and so will not be understood by the averaged Jamaican. Nevertheless, he is clearly forwarding a perspective of inclusiveness in nation development.
Essentially, the PM wants the vision of his party and administration to be that of Jamaicans; hence, he says, “We all have a stake in their success”. Despite the fact, decision and policies are non-consultative, he wants the people to internal them as ours – including the PNP, the JLP, voters, non-voters, or simply put – Jamaicans. (The bold is my emphasis). Note the use of ‘we’ in ‘land we love’ to symbolize a mutual appreciation and respect, which is the rationale for the joining of force for the betterment of ‘Jamaica’.
…the individual who controls language (means of ideology) dominates the other (Bourne 2007)
Is the PM’s truth driven by the fallacies in terminology. It is clear from the arguments presented that language is a control device over the society; and so it be used by The Most Hon. P.J. Patterson in keeping with his political dictates and not for the positive advancement of the society. It is known that direct benefits will result from the expansion of the JAMALCO plant, the rebound in the US tourism market, benefits from ‘top’ rating of the nation’s financial climate, and the MOU. As well as the lowering of interest rates, stability of the exchange rate, and normalcy of the migration in and out of the United States, these do not mitigate against declaring the negatives (or the drawbacks).
The PM omits the minimal expansion (or otherwise) that may result from even the investment in the bauxite plant in Clarendon. When he says, “When completed, this major expansion [JAMALCO facility] will generate an additional US $300 million per year in gross export earnings” this should be contextualized as (1) values are simply just projections that exclude the dynamism of the social interactions, and (2) there is a downward demand of bauxite and its by-product on the international market. With Jamaica not having the capacity to convert bauxite to alumina and/or aluminum, even with a domestic demand for the commodity, the nation will not be able to need this reality with increased cost of production.
Another issue that is omitted from the ‘news’ is the nations unprecedented national and international debt. Hence, a mere discussion with the Fund is not likely to reverse this trend within the context of the society’s high consumption of imports. Therefore, even if the country’s ‘business-environment’ is 10th, there are some hindrances to business and these are ‘corruption’ ‘crime and violence’, ‘trust’, and bureaucracy. This is evident from the PM’s speech that Jamaica’s is among the best even among developed and more so on among developing states. There is an irony, in that Barbados, Bahamas, Cayman, Trinidad and Tobago are developing countries which are all economical more advanced than Jamaica, with smaller debts, lower crime rates, corruption and having fewer creditors and smaller sum to be paid to International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In concluding, the PM’s broadcast is to refocus the current perspectives of the public, which is different from his truth. The recurring positives and their synonyms are a case in point that he wants a new way of thinking. Importantly to note that the PM is a political agent as such, he wants the public to hold a particular stance, which cannot be opposing those of his government. Owing to the fact that this will be a clear positive for the Jamaica Labour Party, the PM is covertly reconstructing the People’s National Party. Thus, while he overtly communicates some achievements and interesting wants the nations to be optimistic, his primary concern is to portray a positive image of his party and government. The text has a total word count of 1,556 works of which 603 were unique such as development, expansion, growth, economic earnings, foreign exchange, fund, investment, positives, target, tourism, sector, workers and Jamaica. There are some 64 sentences, of which the average word per sentence is 24.34 words with 20.2 % of the words being 3-syllable, 14.1% 4-syllable, 16.4% 2-syllable and 25.5% between 7 and 10-syllable. It has a readability of 38.75% (i.e. lexicon density), while its reading level (fog index) is relatively high (14.69). It supersedes that of the New York Times (i.e. a fog index of 11-12) or even that of the Times magazine, which uses a fog index of 11. In order to understand the reading level of the PM’s text, I will forward an explanation. Technical documentations normally use a fog index (i.e. reading level) of between 10 and 15 and professional prose uses 18 and beyond. Hence, the broadcast is both a campaign strategy and a political maneuverings of the social truths of the people, using political language and political realities.
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