As we approach the first Obama-Romney debate and the home stretch of the 2012 election season, here are some resources for international students who could use a little guidance through the thicket of the American political system.
First, remember from my orientation talk that AP has already set up a style guide to the elections, which will also increase your vocabulary. If you don’t know a money bomb from a war chest, or a rope line from a majority whip, click here.
In addition, Sofia Perpetua, whom I would be tempted to call Our Lady of Perpetual Wisdom even if that weren’t her name, was searching online for vocabulary for non-native English-speakers and found a little help from the BBC. Among the .pdf’s posted was a guide to election vocabulary, with exercises and a glossary. You’re welcome to do the exercises in your spare time — the whole file runs 46 pages — but for quick-and-easy debate-night cheat sheet, see page 46. (Pages 10 to 19 contain more detailed lessons vocabulary.)
Be aware that, having come from the BBC, this guide contains British spellings, as well as usages that may not be relevant in the States. For example, we don’t have backbenchers here, and a left-winger is not necessarily a socialist, no matter what the Tea Party (oops! Lowercase in AP style) might say.
When Sofia told me about the newsroom “Tweet and Eat” session during Wednesday night’s debate, I invited myself along. She also suggested we might want to set up an “international table” where we could consider the debate from that perspective and I could do a little coaching as we go along. Any takers? Come join us.