歐巴馬 (Barack Obama) 已於 20 日宣誓就任美國總統。自 2008 年 11 月 18 日當選以來，歐巴馬原本超高的人氣更加飆漲。尤有甚者，現在就連他的演說也炙手可熱，成為英文學習者的參考書。根據路透社在歐巴馬就職當天的一篇報導，日本「朝日出版社」(Asahi Press) 兩個月前將歐巴馬在2004年民主黨全國代表大會以及民主黨初選期間所發表的演說集結成冊，出版一本名為《歐巴馬演說集》(The Speeches of Barack Obama) 的教材，立即成為暢銷書，迄今已銷售逾40萬冊。
筆者不清楚這本登上亞馬遜日本網站暢銷書排行榜第一名的英文學習輔助教材是否收錄歐巴馬去年 11 月 18 日當天的勝選演說，但可以肯定的是，該書一定沒有這位美國新任總統的就職演說。根據報導，朝日打算出版續集，內容包括歐巴馬的就職演說、甘迺迪總統 1961 年的就職演說、林肯 1863 年的蓋茲堡演說等。
Japan learns English from Obama speech textbook
TOKYO (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama’s speeches are proving a best-seller in Japan — as an aid to learning English.
An English-language textbook, “The Speeches of Barack Obama,” has sold more than 400,000 copies in two months, a big hit in a country where few hit novels sell more than a million copies a year.
Japanese have a fervor for learning English and many bookstores have a corner dedicated to dozens of journals in the language, many of them now featuring the new U.S. leader’s face.
“Speeches by presidents and presidential candidates are excellent as listening tools to learn English, because their contents are good and their words are easy to catch,” said Yuzo Yamamoto of Asahi Press, which produced the best-selling text book.
“Obama’s is especially so. His speeches are so moving, and he also uses words such as ‘yes, we can,’ ‘change’ and ‘hope’ that even Japanese people can memorize,” he said.
Speeches by President George W. Bush and former nominee John Kerry’s four years ago did not have the same appeal, however, and nor do those made by Japanese politicians, Yamamoto said.
“In Japan, we don’t have politicians who have such a positive influence. That’s why we have to turn to a foreign president for someone in whom to place our hopes.”
The 95-page paperback features Obama’s speeches in English from the 2004 Democratic National Convention and during the Democratic Party primaries, in which he defeated Hillary Clinton. They are accompanied by Japanese translations.
The 1,050 yen ($12) book, which includes a CD of the speeches, tops the bestseller list on bookseller Amazon’s Japanese Website, http://www.amazon.co.jp/
“Readers have sent in postcards saying that when they heard the speeches, they were so moved and cried even though they don’t understand English very well,” Yamamoto said.
He said lawmakers from Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party had bought the book to study Obama’s speeches.
Following Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, Asahi Press plans to issue a sequel that includes his inaugural address, as well as President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech. It will also feature a reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address of 1863.