Plus I yell at the TeeVee. I’ll bet you do too.
I came upon this last night and have been coming back to it all day. It’s gorgeous and it’s dangerous. I’m interested in how others might be reading it – heck, I’m not even sure yet how I’m reading it . . . these words have not finished with me.
He thought that in the beauty of the world were hid a secret. He thought the world’s heart beat at some terrible cost and the world’s pain and beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.
Cormac McCarthy, All The Pretty Horses
He said that without a single comma. Note to self: fewer commas.
At ToolServer (some sort of Wikipedia offshoot), there’s a nifty compilation of 2012’s top Wikipedia searches by language. This one particularly caught my eye (and yes, I checked, that “G” is indeed a search for the letter G. Almost four million times, Germans went to Wikipedia for information on the letter G). Go here for more list fun.
My previous post urged one Mr. Mike Huckabee to go and, as is said, ‘fuck himself’.
I did briefly wonder if I had taken my headline a step too far. I hadn’t. Approximately 68% of commentary on Friday’s shootings and 100% of commentary on Huckabee’s comments in particular now includes the word fuck.
So – not too far. Whew.
Oh Democrats my Democrats.
Just like that turtle in a slow boil pot of water (is that the right metaphor?), you never noticed when you capitulated. You now use in blithe ignorance words specifically designed to insult you. Words designed by a morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout, indicted drug offender and now iconic standard-bearer of the conservative movement. Words like:
- LIBERAL MEDIA: In debate coverage, on bleeding MSNBC, I heard liberal pundits automatically refer to the ‘liberal media’. They’ve not only accepted but are now employing the very label assigned them by the morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout and indicted drug offender, a label he invented and employed over decades to discredit, denigrate and insult you. Throughout, if you even bothered to defend, your arguments were weak. “No we’re not” doesn’t do it. (Exception is Eric Alterman’s 2003 meticulously researched book What Liberal Media? – hurry, only two left at Amazon!). So you failed and now a good part of the country assume media to be liberal; they even believe that outlets like the broadcast networks exhibit bias in their vapid little 19 minutes a night of ‘news’. Well done, Rush; fail, Dems.
- DEMOCRAT PARTY: Same thing. The morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout and indicted drug criminal began some years ago saying “Democrat Party” instead of “Democratic Party”. Again an insult, meant to strip from the party’s name any suggestion that it stood for a democratic ideal or even process. You’ve no doubt heard it from Rush: Dems now say it too.
- OBAMACARE: This one only took about five minutes. As soon as the morbidly obese, four times married, college dropout and indicted drug offender invented the name, it was universally adopted because, after all, it’s so much easier to say than Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
3-0. Three-zip. As Mr. Jackson said “wake the f**k up!”
Posted in irony, language, Media, Politics, The Daily Rush
Tagged Altercation, Democratic Party, Eric Alterman, irony, language, liberal media, Media, morbidly obese, Obamacare, Politics, rush limbaugh
Mitt Romney’s odd use of “sport” and “aircraft” reminds me of an oddity between American and British English. While it is entirely understandable that different countries sharing a language would develop different words for things, like “lift” and “elevator”, “flat” and “apartment” and hundreds of others, I am puzzled by the the opposite use of the ‘s’es here.
Why do we say math and they say maths, but they say sport and we say sports?
How did that happen? And dear Elvis, is it possible that Mitt is not a real American?
James Fallows has a fascinating column today in The Atlantic. Here’s why he thinks Clinton connects:
Because he treats listeners as if they are smart.
That is the significance of “They want us to think” and “The strongest argument is” and “The arithmetic says one of three things must happen” and even “Now listen to me here, this is important.” He is showing that he understands the many layers of logic and evidence and positioning and emotion that go into political discussion — and, more important, he takes for granted that listeners can too. . . .
He compares Clinton’s style to Sports Radio Talk, where it’s assumed listeners understand the nuances and finer points of rules nad strategy and analysis. He goes on:
It’s the difference between clarifying, and over-simplifying. Clarification, with the confidence that people can understand the back and forth, lies behind passages like this, which characterized most of the speech.
I think he’s got it exactly right.
Count on George Will to build an entire column on a cheap half truth. I used to enjoy his columns but in recent years he’s turned bitter. And careless of how he used language and history. He’s got his underwear in a know again.
A few years back, according to the GOP punditocracy, Obama’s chief of staff spoke terrifying words! He said “we should never waste a crisis”. This of course, meant the sheets had to be pulled off the fainting couches yet again.
Not only was his comment not new, it has been the conventional wisdom for hundred of years; the Chinese use the same character for ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity’. Seen below “the use has been adopted by business leaders and motivational speakers’. Because it’s true.
Benjamin Zimmer has traced the history of weiji in English as far back as anonymous editorial in a journal for missionaries in China. The use of the term probably gained momentum when John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in Indianapolis on April 12, 1959:
- When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters.
- One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.
Kennedy employed this trope routinely in his speeches, and it was then appropriated by Richard M. Nixon and others. The usage has been adopted by business consultants and motivational speakers and has gained great popularity in universities and in the popular press. For example, in 2007, Condoleezza Rice used the meme during Middle East peace talks, and Al Gore did so both in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, and in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture.
Posted in Government, History, language, Media, Obama, partisanship, Pet peeves, Politics
Tagged Chinese proverbs, George Will, Iran hostage crisis, language, Obama, Politics
Dear NBC, I’m sure you meant to say “Hurricane threatens”. Impending is an adverb. Really.
The ‘half-governor’ and now national joke offers one of her signature word-salads on Todd Akin. Here’s an exquisitely twisted bit of grammar (my favorite part is in bold). Just splendid.
Todd Akin has said he’s not going to drop out, and bless his heart, I don’t want to pile on Todd Akin, because in some respects I understand what he was trying to say here, in standing on principle that he doesn’t want to be perceived as a quitter, but you gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Believe me, I’ve walked before, and I know when you have to hold that mantle and then hand it someone else in order to progress a positive agenda. That’s what I had to do in Alaska.
Posted in 2012 Elections, abortion, Congress critters, language, Palin, Politics, Right wing talk machine
Tagged elections, language, Politics, Sarah Palin, Todd Akin
I was wrong. I thought Romney would bypass Ryan. He’s from Congress – a body with an 11% approval rate. He voted with Bush on Medicare D. His budget is unpopular. He’s aligned with the Tea Party. He’s a Randian.
HIs appeal is narrow, but he will energize a segment of the Republican electorate with a pretty good record of getting the vote out.
Ryan closed his speech with ‘We will be America’s comeback team’. Good line, very good line. If they’re tuned in, that phrase should become central to the campaign from now on.
Posted in 2012 Elections, Congress critters, language, Politics, Romney
Tagged Ayn Rand, economy, elections, Paul Ryan, Politics, Romney, tea party, Veep pick
Dear media: when you report on US foreign policy or military decisions, announcements and initiatives, please do not ascribe them only to “the Administration” or “the President”. Since they act in our name, the proper attribution is to “we” or “us”. (an Administration did not go to war in Iraq, ‘we’ did.)
If more specificity is appropriate, say “the Federal government” or “the State Department” or “the Pentagon”. If the initiative is purely from the Executive, then go ahead and say “the President” or “the Administration”.
It’s not as sexy or shiny, but it might mitigate the vein-popping outrage – from certain quarters – that the President is a dictator bent on enslaving us all.
Even Ted Baxter knew how to pronouce it.
Don’t know what a pundint is? It is a pundit – as pronounced today by far too many tone-deaf pundits. As usual, the speakers tend to be young, so this qualifies in my book as a genuine word evolution.
So where did that extra ‘n’ come from? Don’t know – perhaps it simply creeps in when people mis-hear a word and repeat the wrong pronunciation. And then it spreads . . .
A headline from my paper recently is the first example in print of a usage I’ve been hearing for some time. The story is about children of migrant workers graduating from high school here in Florida. Here’s the headline:
Excited for a future beyond the fields
More from that Barney Frank interview in the NY Times Magazine Orhan posted about the other day.
Q: You recently said about Newt Gingrich: “He’s just one of the worst people I know of who didn’t commit violence on somebody.” Did he kill your dog?
A: He transformed American politics from one in which people presume the good will of their opponents, even as they disagreed, into one in which people treated the people with whom they disagreed as bad and immoral. He was a kind of McCarthy-ite who succeeded.
For those who don’t remember, this article was written in 1995, after Gingrich became Speaker of the House. Here are the words that Gingrich, in a memo, urged his fellow Republicans to use when referring to Democrats:
decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis… urgent(cy)… destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… liberal… they/them… unionized bureaucracy… “compassion” is not enough… betray… consequences… limit(s)… shallow… traitors… sensationalists…
endanger… coercion… hypocrisy… radical… threaten… devour… waste… corruption… incompetent… permissive attitudes… destructive… impose… self-serving… greed… ideological… insecure… anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs… pessimistic… excuses… intolerant…
Gingrich was never interested in cooperation – without which there is no possibility of governing in a democratic process. (Remember when he shut down the government? Twice? Such good times.)
As he exhibited yet again in his absurd presidential campaign, Newt is interested first in Newt, and in his place in history which he thinks he has earned. He’s right about that at least.
Posted in broken government, Congress critters, Gingrich, Government, History, language, partisanship, Politics, Right wing talk machine, talk radio
Tagged Gingrich, GOPAC, language, Newt Gingrich, partisanship, Politics
That would be didn’t and wouldn’t. Where the contraction “n’t” traditionally silenced the sound of the vowel “o”, there is now a clearly audible “i” (or “e”).
And the ‘n’ is now much sharper and separate – try pronouncing the two versions yourself and pay attention to the lip formations that accompany the sounds. They’re quite different.
I started hearing this among high school girls – not boys, just girls (?) – about ten years ago. Then I began hearing it in young adults and now . . .
I have not heard it from people who have a southern accent (any ideas why?); it seems to occur among speakers of what used to be called “American Broadcast English” and those with New York/New Jersey accents.
The Sunlight Foundation has published a (seriously wonky) report that measures the grade levels at which our congress critters speak. Their study covers 1996 to this 112th Congress, in both the House and Senate. It’s getting a bit of notice around the buhlogospheric-system and deservedly so. Fascinating stuff.
They say that congressional speech has dropped a full grade level in that period, with Tea Party freshman accounting for much of the most recent decline. (Which Senator speaks at the lowest grade level? Can you guess? Rand Paul bitches!)
The whole thing is here and there are a few interesting sidebars on their blog as well. I don’t think it’s at all clear from the study (I did say it’s wonky) if the change has any significant effect on clarity or successful communication, which after all, is the point of language. But even if utility is unaffected . . .
This grabbed my attention.
Today’s Congress speaks at about a 10.6 grade level, down from 11.5 in 2005. By comparison, the U.S. Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level, the Federalist Papers at a 17.1 grade level, and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level. . . .
Posted in Blogsphere, Congress critters, education, Government, History, language, Meet the 112th!, Politics, Tea Party
Tagged congress, education, language, literacy, Politics, tea party
I’ve been listening and I hear people using the word ‘less’ when the correct word would be ‘fewer’. As in ‘less people are saying fewer’.
Listen yourself, see if you hear it too.
In a recent comment thread here, a phrase used by blogfriend jonolan got me wondering about how we name things. Language, as we know, has power. For instance:
Did you know that in Iraq, Iraqis speak only of The American War? Of course, we call it The Iraq War.
Re the War between the States, jonolan calls it the War of Northern Aggression. We of the North always call it The Civil War
(I’ve a friend in South Carolina who told me her mother always called it “the recent unpleasantness”. Love that!)