One of the things that marks Sarah Palin as a linguistic outsider is her use of also. In part, this is just a matter of frequency.... Relative to the rates seen in large and representative corpora, Gov. Palin used also about 5 to 10 times more often than expected...Lots of examples at the link, such as "I'm sure that we're going to see more success there, also."
But the most striking thing about Gov. Palin's affinity for this word is how she used it, not how often. 13 out of her 48 examples (27%) were sentence-final...
And 18 of Gov. Palin's other alsos (37.5%) were, we might say, peripheral — initial, or between clauses, or among a pile of adverbs at the start or end of a clause, e.g....Hmmm. I used to know a guy who used the word "too" in the beginning of sentences, which always seemed weird to me. I think "also" feels right at the beginning, while "too" feels right at the end, but I have no idea how I acquired this feeling. I went through a phase when I used to say "as well" instead of "too" or "also." I knew it was an affectation -- how, I don't know -- and I eventually got over it.
That's 65% of her alsos on the edges of clauses....
[I]t's not at all clear to me whether this is an individual quirk, or a matter of regional or cultural variation. And if it's more than an individual quirk, is it an innovation or a survival?
Anyway, odd speech patterns can affect what we think of a politician. They can draw us in or make us suspicious, and different people react to different things. Most national-level politicians speak in what seems to me to be a very standard (and boring) way. We tend to find that reassuring. They seem smart enough. It's risky to sound different. It can be charming, and it annoys the hell out of some people.
MORE: Some outfit called Global Language Monitor, analyzing the VP debate, says Palin spoke at a 9.5 grade level, and Biden spoke at the 7.8 level.
This strikes me as pseudo-linguistics, done by computer and particularly unreliable when a transcriber is making decisions about where to end and begin sentences and paragraphs, but I'm noting it because it's reported at CNN and getting some discussion in the blogosphere.
In any case, even if the science were sound, it wouldn't mean Palin is smarter or more effective than Biden. It's hard to speak spontaneously in crisp, clear sentences, and it's often completely self-indulgent or deliberately obfuscatory to string a lot of clauses together.