October 23, 2008

Verbage Garbage

In a piece in the New Yorker, Verbage -The Republican war on words, critic James Wood talks about how the Republicans political discussion has confused and corrupted language, reflecting perhaps a "deep suspicion of language itself". I am reminded of the recent Peggy Noon WSJ op-ed piece: Palin's Failin', in which she wrote:

More than ever on the campaign trail, the candidates are dropping their G's. Hardworkin' families are strainin' and tryin'a get ahead. It's not only Sarah Palin but Mr. McCain, too, occasionally Mr. Obama, and, of course, George W. Bush when he darts out like the bird in a cuckoo clock to tell us we are in crisis. All of the candidates say "mom and dad": "our moms and dads who are struggling." This is Mr. Bush's former communications adviser Karen Hughes's contribution to our democratic life, that you cannot speak like an adult in politics now, that's too austere and detached, snobby. No one can say mothers and fathers, it's all now the faux down-home, patronizing—and infantilizing—moms and dads. Do politicians ever remember that in a nation obsessed with politics, our children—sorry, our kids—look to political figures for a model as to how adults sound?

Anyways, Wood's article has come for some criticism, as I gleaned via this Bookslut post today:

Mark Liberman at the Language Log chastises Wood (also this) for his "childish egocentrism, which assumes without checking that 'This isn't how I pronounce or use this word, so it must be wrong; and I don't recall having seen this before, so it must never have happened before.'"

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