April 7, 2010

John McWhorter found Sarah Palin childish for using the "distancing" word "that," so what would he have to say about Abraham Lincoln?

Yesterday, we were talking about the way the linguist John McWhorter analyzed Sarah Palin's speech. He found her childish for using the word "that" in phrases like "forge that peace," because it was a "distancing gesture," as if the peace were "way over there" and not something she's genuinely involved with. He wrote:
That peace? You mean that peace way over there — as opposed to the peace that you as Vice-President would have been responsible for forging? She’s far, far away from that peace.
Now, check out the Gettyburg Address, with added boldface:
... Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 
You mean that nation way over there — as opposed to the nation you're supposed to be President of.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
That war?!!! It's your war, Mr. President. Come down out of the clouds you fluffy-headed fool and join the reality that you have a helluva lot to do with... or perhaps you haven't noticed!
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field....
That field! You are here on this field, where so many have died. Wake up from your crazy dream world, man!
... as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. 
That nation?!!! It's our nation, Mr. President. Not some nation way over there! How did this dangerous child of a man become President?!

99 comments:

garage mahal said...

Palin is like Lincoln.

LarsPorsena said...

Splendid take-down.

paul a'barge said...

Make no mistake about it. Althouse now has McWhorter sucking on ice cubes, trying to stop the blood flowing from the sides of his masticated tongue.

Good for you, Althouse.

Saute McWhorter's balls with some Fava beans and a nice Chianti. He has it coming. In spades.

Peano said...

Touché

Kirby Olson said...

This is very convincing and should be part of McWhorter's permanent Wikipedia page. In fact it should be all that we need to know in McWhorter's Wikipedia page.

Lincoln always arises as the real American president (the others can all sit down). Now with Palin as clearly Lincolnesque, let's elect her (or should I say THAT WOMAN) as our first female president.

Rumpletweezer said...

Reading the opinions of those who don't appear to know anything about Palin provides me with hours of entertainment. Good analysis, Ann!

Anthony said...

She is an idiot. Soon she will be a reality TV start idiot. You can't come back from that. Live with it.

danielle said...

wow. he really pissed you off, huh ?

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

That that slipped. That Sarah is like that that first Republican and she wants that job. That writer is a hack that sold his soul to that attack piece, credentials and all.

LordSomber said...

If she had just used the word "yonder," people would'nt have such a hard time trying to stereotype her.

Balfegor said...

This is very convincing and should be part of McWhorter's permanent Wikipedia page. In fact it should be all that we need to know in McWhorter's Wikipedia page.

I know we're all hating on McWhorter here, and I agree, his article was somewhat silly, but it was a just something he threw up on TNR's blog, no? He's generally an interesting commentator, and not dishonest or a hack. When he writes that that's where his mind went, he's just being unintentionally revealing. It doesn't discredit everything he ever wrote. Let's have a sense of proportion here.

Rick said...

How did this dangerous child of a man become President?!

How did this childish twit of a pseudo-linguist get a gig with the New Republic?!

mikec said...

McWhorter is not going to be able to live this down! What could have possessed him to make such a mistake?

Balfegor said...

LordSomber said...
If she had just used the word "yonder," people would'nt have such a hard time trying to stereotype her.

She should sprinkle Latin tags and quotations through her speeches. That is totally what I would do if I were a candidate.

"What is your plan for the peace?"
"We will make a solitude and call it peace!"

"What will you do about people hating us abroad?"
"Let them hate, so long as they fear! It is better to be feared than loved."

"What are your views on child-rearing?"
"Speak roughly to your little boy and beat him when he sneezes!"

etc. etc.

This is why I will never be elected to high office.

Freeman Hunt said...

Palin is like Lincoln.

Ha. And I had just clicked in to comment, "Cue lefty blog claiming 'Althouse Says Palin Is Like Lincoln!'"

roesch-voltaire said...

When Palin can string together: or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure-- that will be the day I will pay attention.

Maguro said...

Wayne Campbell: Sarah Palin. She's a fox. In French she would be called "la renarde" and she would be hunted with only her cunning to protect her.

Garth Algar: She's a babe.

Wayne Campbell: She's a robo-babe. In Latin she would be called "babia majora".

Garth Algar: If she were a president she would be Baberaham Lincoln.

SteveR said...

Just admit you don't like her, why are you spending time stretching logic to justify it? There are plenty of easy reasons not to like her. The fact that she's a republican woman get you to 40% without even having to write an article.

Joe said...

When Palin can string together: or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure-- that will be the day I will pay attention.



What if she offers free higher education? And can create at elast one world class environmental engineering program?

Daniel said...

Each time Lincoln uses the word "that", he is very specifically referring to a defined noun in the previous sentence:

"...our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation..."

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war."

"We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field..."

Totally different rhetorical device. Nice try. (Do I have to put this on Ann's wikipedia page now?)

Larry J said...

He's generally an interesting commentator, and not dishonest or a hack. When he writes that that's where his mind went, he's just being unintentionally revealing. It doesn't discredit everything he ever wrote. Let's have a sense of proportion here.

Frankly, I'm more interested in "where his mind went" than what he deliberately writes. Anyone can lie when they take their time writing something but this reveals what he truly believes. It tells more about his (defective, it turns out) thought processes than his normal writing.

Joe said...

OOOOOOHHHHH, a Sarah Palin thread...that's good for 200 posts, easy.

WV: FLAVINTA...I thinking a placenta flavoured breafast drink.

garage mahal said...

OOOOOOHHHHH, a Sarah Palin thread...that's good for 200 posts, easy.

And 195 by conservative regulars....

peter hoh said...

Now this is funny.

Fred4Pres said...

There are a lot of people I would like to distance myself from. So I understand where Sarah is coming from.

Joan said...

Nicely done, Professor.

Each time Lincoln uses the word "that", he is very specifically referring to a defined noun in the previous sentence:

Daniel, if you go back and read the quotes that McWhorter pulled out of context, you can see that Palin used the rhetorical device in exactly the same way. Clue up, man.

Eric said...

I know we're all hating on McWhorter here, and I agree, his article was somewhat silly, but it was a just something he threw up on TNR's blog, no?

He should have run it past Scott Beauchamp first to make sure it meets TNR's stringent editorial standards..

mRed said...

Lemme be clear, that that isn't that that I thought that I should. That clears up that doesn't that? Is that that that? Or that?

Okay on to nuclear disarmament. Or is that the that I meant?

Daniel said...

Joan says:

you can see that Palin used the rhetorical device in exactly the same way.

Joan said:

McWhorter's confusion about the "forge that peace" remark is even harder to understand, since her use of "that" for emphasis is common English usage (e.g., "we will fight, and we will win that fight" versus "we will fight, and we will win").

Yeah, exactly the same.

reader_iam said...

I'm with Balfegor re: McWhorter.

I was unimpressed by his analysis (more specifically, certain of his conclusions) regarding Palin in the piece to which Althouse is objecting, but overall I like him and find him to be a reasonable person and often thought-provoking. I just can't see writing him off due to what he expresses in one piece, or even on one person or topic.

Hell, if I did that, there'd be almost no one I could read or with whom I could interact, on or offline. And "almost" might be overstating it.

Daniel said...

Oops, my bad, the comment Joan linked to was not hers, it was Revenant. Still, point remains, they were not the same rhetorical device.

AJ Lynch said...

"Palin is like Lincoln"

Garage- you are finally catching on! Take the rest of the day off as a reward.

cf said...

In any event,52% of Americans were dumb enough to vote Obama into office (sorry , Ann) and given that it's probably a shrewd move to in McWhorter's words "talk like a toddler"if you want to be understood by voters.

racer said...

Not to take anyone's side, but did Ms. Althouse happen to determine whether the use of "that" was idiomatic of mid-19th century speech before she ventured into her histrionic castigation? How about as relating to those 19th century Americans who had similar educations as Lincoln had or who hailed from Lincoln's homestate of Illinois?

Yeah. Thought not.

/McWhorter can suck eggs. He's just spouting elitist bullshit.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Totally different rhetorical device. Nice try. (Do I have to put this on Ann's wikipedia page now?)

Pwnage.

BTW, Where are those teabagger birther abortion pixxx that you said you would post yesterday, huh Professor? Still trying to figure out a way to post them without alienating your wingnut readers (and your husband!?). LOLZ.

Ann Althouse said...

Daniel: "Totally different rhetorical device."

Why are you saying that? Because the Palin statement is completely out of context and you assumed or because you found the Palin quote and determined that (incorrectly, I'd say).

Ann Althouse said...

@racer I'm not really attacking Lincoln...

A.W. said...

Hey look,

last time i held my nose and voted against a president obama and for a vice presient palin. when people said mccain might die in office, i said, "is that a promise?" i still believe that she was more qualified to be president than biden, obama and mccain, although that isn't exactly a high bar. i mean she had more administrative experience than all of them, combined.

But comparing just about any modern politician to lincoln will generally diminish the politician in question. in fact, right now, i literally can't think of a single politician alive who doesn't shrink a little by comparison. which is not to say your point isn't valid, but it gets overshadowed.

The dirty little secret of course is that lincoln wasn't quite as great as hyped. but lincoln exceeded in the media of his day--the written word. he is one of the best writers ever to have sat in the white house. and more than a century later we have a much better understanding of what a politician said and wrote, than what they did. You can't imagine Washington sitting at the constituitonal convention as a great and majestic presence. But you can read the gettysburg address, and thus be a witness to a truly brilliant mind. And you mistakenly assume that because lincoln was a better writer that he was also a better president. mind you, he was still probably our best, but probably not as good as typically imagined.

For instance, if i write out "four score and seven years ago" you will picture it in a deep baritone, probably. But contemporaneous accounts by even his friends tell a different story. the president had a high pitched "western hick" accent. The best metaphor i can give is, imagine Larry the Cable guy giving a serious political speech, but in the same accent he uses in stand-up (Larry is actually native to Nebraska).

and perversely, that was part of his charm. at his cooper's union speech, the audience was utterly confused at first, thinking, "where did they find this redneck?" and then gradually they realized that despite the homely accent, he was a brilliant man. his voice was not majestic, but his words were. and there is a certain charm that accrues when a person exceeds your stereotypes. they couldn't get over the fact that this "hick" could also be so brilliant.

Palin has an accent that people stereotype as dumb. She isn't dumb. But you have to be especially brilliant to overcome those stereotypes, and she is only good enough to win over those who don't share those stereotypes. If she happened to sound like a kennedy, i suppose everyone would assume she was appropriately intelligent. But somehow saying "you betcha" is considered a sign of stupidity. its bigotry pure and simple.

dcm said...

Andersonville was a confederate prison.

SMGalbraith said...

Garry Wills (and others) pointed out that Lincoln was following Pericles famous funeral oration by using the "that" and "them" phrases.

Since the Gettysburg battle was effectively the end of the war, Lincoln had to instill a sense of hope to the mourners. So, he was using the distant tense and phrases "that" war and "that" battlefield in an attempt to put the war behind the people. Pericles did the same thing.

As to Palin: I have no idea. John McWhorter is, for me, a brilliant and thoughtful guy; but this is not one of his better efforts.

And I'm no Palin fan.

Because I Said So said...

In that great war of words, Althouse 1, McWhorter 0.

Penny said...

McWhorter wasn't taking a pot shot at Palin, so much as he was making a point about our society today. Where we used to pay attention to how candidates thought on their feet or could string together their thoughts, we now worry more about our emotional response to candidates. "You betcha" and "Yes we can", bring positive emotional responses, while candidates that speak in a more "proper" fashion are somehow automatically distrusted now.

Prior to Obama's election, McWhorter was concerned about his credentials to lead this nation. He's doing the same thing here, but this time about Palin. He's saying that the language she uses, which pleases so many of us, may not tell the whole story.

He says Palin is an "Avatar", perhaps EXACTLY as Obama was an avatar before her?

This guy is a critical thinker, but we choose to put on our boxing gloves instead of reading what he says. Makes me wonder how the heck we evolved to have hands with five fingers and a thumb when the boxing gloves suit us so well.

AllenS said...

Isn't John McWhorter a colored guy? Maybe he just doesn't understand the way white people talk. Has anyone axed him about that?

reader_iam said...

Oh, for God's sake.

Fen said...

I know we're all hating on McWhorter here, and I agree, his article was somewhat silly, but it was a just something he threw up on TNR's blog, no? He's generally an interesting commentator, and not dishonest or a hack. When he writes that that's where his mind went, he's just being unintentionally revealing. It doesn't discredit everything he ever wrote. Let's have a sense of proportion here.

Proportion: treating McWhorter by the same standard he treated Palin.

Brian Day said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

The Palin as Lincoln observation is a good one.Both got their start among a mixture of hard working farmers and new industries and new energy extraction companies. They see all things as possible if leadership will lead. And they both have a principled stand on public morality. All Sarah needs is a stove pipe hat and a beard.

slarrow said...

Actually, Penny, the knock on McWhorter is that he's being unfair in his "critical thinking." He starts a piece with caveats about spoken vs. written language and conversational/interview speaking vs. set piece, and then he ignores those restrictions to draw sweeping conclusions based on out-of-context interview snippets. The complaint is that McWhorter strapped those oh-so-delicate fingers into a boxing glove himself.

policraticus said...

Lincoln is a sui generis figure in the annals of history. He has no initiative, no idealistic impetus, cothurnus, no historical trappings. He gives his most important actions always the most commonplace form. Other people claim to be "fighting for an idea," when it is for them a matter of square feet of land. Lincoln, even when he is motivated by, an idea, talks about "square feet." -- Karl Marx, the John McWhorter of 1862.

Balfegor said...

Re: Penny

McWhorter wasn't taking a pot shot at Palin, so much as he was making a point about our society today. Where we used to pay attention to how candidates thought on their feet or could string together their thoughts, we now worry more about our emotional response to candidates.

Eh, that might be true if (1) he didn't try and suggest that her linguistic development was stuck somewhere in the middle of first language acquisition, and (2) his speculation about her thoughts was all about how she touches upon issues only shallowly. He can be making an interesting point and be illustrating it largely with cheap shots at a political figure he sneers down on.

Geoff Matthews said...

Balfegor, I'd vote for that.

Lawgiver said...

Pwnage.

Pwnage...ha,ha. ZPS learned a gamer term.

Here's some more.

Get that weak shit outta here u fookin n00b. Epic fail .


vw: Dondi.
Remember Dondi??

Calypso Facto said...

Nicely played, Ann! I do love it when the pretentious get their comeuppance.

But following the theme, where does this Presidential speech fit in the pattern? "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"

EDH said...

I'm just trying to picture the smile that came to Althouse's face when she discovered that Lincoln quote.

Penny said...

"The complaint is that McWhorter strapped those oh-so-delicate fingers into a boxing glove himself."

Perhaps to make a larger point? Our hostess does it frequently, and we nearly always find it charming.

paul a'barge said...

Um, Daniel?

Tie your shoes.

Rialby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rialby said...

Garage - do you have any Progressive friends who can make an argument? Maybe they can show you some tricks?

edutcher said...

Very droll, Madame. You must have been a fencing mistress in a previous life.

garage mahal said...

Palin is like Lincoln.

Both were from rural beginnings, both had less than ideal educations, both were self-made, and both were despised by those who thought they were better.

Wasn't it McClellan who called the Railsplitter, "The Original Gorilla"?

dcm said...

Andersonville was a confederate prison.

The Union had them, also. Can't recall the name, but there was one just as horrific outside Chicago.

William said...

Palin is no bard, but she plainly inspires the bards. On a crowded stage, she is the figure you look at and want to root for. Right now, among the writing classes, she has drawn a great deal of negative attention, but she is the one they write about. I think future generations will continue to write about her but in a much less negative way.....Compare and contrast Teddy Roosevelt with Woodrow Wilson. TR still glows, and Wilson fades into his own paleness. Wilson, in his time, was considered a great scholar by the great scholars. Does anyone know a single human being who has ever read a book by Wilson?.....Thus so with Palin and Obama. There is a vitality and force to Palin that exceeds her words and that people with skill at words wish to capture. Obama has more skill with words. His recent 17 minute answer to a simple question included many Latinate words and grammatical sentences. But for all that, he is more the dissertation and Palin is more the poem.

Rialby said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't John McWhorter the somewhat conservative black pundit who said that he was supporting Obama not because he was going to be so great for the country but because it would be great for the black youth to see America elect a black POTUS?

Beth said...

Yeah, that war there, you betcha.

Daniel wins at 3:26.

Vortex depends on shameless lack of context.

Blue@9 said...

How did this dangerous child of a man become President?!\

Don't you mean "*that* dangerous child of man"?

Beth said...

Not that this is one of McWhorter's best efforts - that I acknowledge. But it's hardly the trophy some of the comments here make it out to be.

bagoh20 said...

"When Palin can string together: or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure-- that will be the day I will pay attention."

The original speech and Lincoln himself were widely panned in the beginning, Even hated by many.

Isn't it strange how little the actual Vice President of the United States is critiqued, while so much of our high-brow punditry concentrates on some "reality star" from the sticks who can't even talk right, and who the left constantly compares to the President. Sounds like some people are not too proud of their choices.

joated said...

Well done, Ann. Well done, indeed!

McWhorter sounds like the kind of bore who would have eyes rolling in seconds flat.

kentuckyliz said...

I have greatest hits of the 90s on VH1 while waiting for Idol to come on (and working, grading)--and I realized, Sarah Palin is Shania Twain!!!

And we know how wildly popular Shania was.

There ya go.

Paul Zrimsek said...

For those of you who somehow still can't see it, the referent for "that" in "forge that peace" is "the two-state solution"-- which, sure enough, was in Palin's preceding sentence.

Nora said...

This is marvelous. IIRC, Lincoln was not at any time considered an intellectual.

"It used to be that a way with a word could get you past the electorate even if there was nothing behind it. Did you ever wonder why, for example, a mediocrity like Warren G. Harding became President? It was partly good looks, but partly that he had a gift for making a speech." - this quote is taken from the McWhorter article (toward the end). Why talk about Harding, when we have more recent example in front of us? I guess, the irony was lost on Mc Whorter, but then sense of irony tends to detiorate severely with education, and is usually replaced by [not] so sophisticated put downs.

MadisonMan said...

Why would you compare a speech in the mid 1860s to a speech from 2010? Speech patterns do evolve.

I have the honor to remain yr. obt. servant,

MadisonMan.

reader_iam said...

Why would you compare a speech in the mid 1860s to a speech from 2010? Speech patterns do evolve.

Why would various people use the metaphor "team of rivals"--a reference to Lincoln also--with regard to Sarah Palin and to Barack Obama?

reader_iam said...

MadisonMan: It seems to me that vast, broad and deep amounts of conversation today largely involve throwbacks. If what is wanted is a simple answer as to why, here it is: We're floundering.

Synova said...

Language does evolve, true.

It's also entirely likely if Palin grew up with the King James that she employs somewhat archaic usage without noticing it. (For some reason the hymn "Abide with me" popped in my head yesterday and I realized "fast falls the even-tide" was something no one would even understand as English anymore.)

It's also possible that she reads older work with similar archaic usage. She may be boning up on political issues and History and reading founding documents and speeches by Lincoln. Reading prose with an unusual "voice" tends to bleed out. One imagines Sherlock Holmes deducing reading lists from speaking patterns.

Or she may be using the "distancing" word for particular emphasis. "That" whatever stands out more than "the". It can work like a verbal capitalization or verbal italics. It's "distancing" in a sense because it sets the word apart and illustrates and emphasizes it. But it's not "distancing" in the sense of putting the emphasized thing farther way.

There are lots of tricks that can be done in speech or in text when one does not want to use quotes or asterisks or boldface or italics. Manipulating word order is effective. So is adding additional words to provide either a beat or a heaviness to one part of the sentence. Manipulating emphasis that way trumps correct grammar, usually, if the emphasis is called for at all. Using the word "that" instead of "the" is replacing a word we automatically ignore for a different one that we ignore less often. Since we ignore it less often, we're less likely to ignore the word that follows.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The particular speech pattern we're concerned with here goes back a ways:

But now is tyme for yow for to telle
How that we baren us that ilke nyght
When we were in that hostelrie alyght;

Fen said...

Beth: Not that this is one of McWhorter's best efforts - that I acknowledge. But it's hardly the trophy some of the comments here make it out to be

But it is.

Not by itself, but because of desperate attempts by Lefties like yourself to minimize it.

Call it an integrity check, that most of you Libtards failed. Thanks for coming out Beth.

From Inwood said...

"Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-... That's all, folks."

And the sad Palin haters will always try to discredit her, yet oh once more, here futilely, even when things are explained carefully to them.

reader_iam said...

Note to self: Any attempt to put something in perspective is an attempt to minimize it.

Got it.

Quick check: Am I supposed to apply that here in general? If not, who are the particular go-to people for verification of the specifications?

Please supply a go-to contact for right, left and an acceptable center for each of the former two.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder if JFK or Reagan or Clinton used that word like Palin did (I'm sure they did). That would be a more apt comparison, I think.

Tear down that wall. Well, maybe that's not quite the same thing.

Revenant said...

It's also entirely likely if Palin grew up with the King James that she employs somewhat archaic usage without noticing it.

Well, maybe. But her use of "that" in the examples McWhorter gave was standard modern English usage.

Synova said...

"Well, maybe. But her use of "that" in the examples McWhorter gave was standard modern English usage."

I know that I didn't find the construction odd, but I also don't find her accent odd. There are a lot of interesting regional differences in language use apart from accents. I wouldn't trust myself to recognize what seemed right because I grew up with it as opposed to what sounds right because it's common usage.

From Inwood said...

One gets the feeling that (if I may use that word) if Sarah Palin were on a commercial flight where the Flight Attendant gave her a choice of meals & she, Palin, said "I'll take that one", self-appointed snobs like Dame Peggy Noonan (from Fairleigh Dickinson, no less), David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, John McWhorter, assorted Liberal opinion makers & Palin-hating commenters here would say "Ha. What a rube."

Mike said...

I normally find Ann's comments insightful, but really? The Gettysburg Address? It's one thing to criticize McWhorter's analysis of Palin's impromptu speaking style, but ... the Gettysburg Address? I'm floored.

Surely even Palin fans can recognize that she tends to mangle her syntax. To compare that to Lincoln's meticulous rhetorical strategy seems whimsical, to say the least.

Fen said...

reader_iam: Note to self: Any attempt to put something in perspective is an attempt to minimize it.

No, reader. All you need do is drop the situational ethics:

reader: "Republican do X, is very bad!"
reader: "Democrat do X, no big deal"

Or maybe you simply have very low standards for Democrats. You cant really be blamed for that...

Greg said...

I wonder what this clown makes of Palin's use of the phrase "ticked off," or her use of "joshing" yesterday at the Bachmann rally in Minneapolis. I'm sure the 11,000 people who were there are sitting on the edges of their seats for his analysis.

Shanna said...

Heh. Nice.

Shanna said...

I normally find Ann's comments insightful, but really? The Gettysburg Address? It's one thing to criticize McWhorter's analysis of Palin's impromptu speaking style, but ... the Gettysburg Address? I'm floored.

So...you basically have nothing to say about the actual language comparison, you're just mad that anything Palin said was compared to what Lincoln said. Gotcha!

Paul Zrimsek said...

One of the standard tricks for dealing with language pedants is to apply their misguided strictures to the Gettysburg Address. Peggy Noonan did it in What I Saw at the Revolution.

pinkmonkeybird said...

All kinds of people who are given credit for being smart show how blinkin' foolish they are when they criticize SarahCuda.

Kirby Olson said...

Another interesting comparison could be made of how the Democrats tried to get Lincoln for being from the backwoods, and using strange syntax, clinging to God and guns, while they were from the northeast, and had good educations, and had arugula salads while he was chasing down the moose.

The more things change...

Paul Zrimsek said...

For anyone still interested, there's a much more thoughtful* look at Palin's use of demonstratives here.

*Apologies in advance to mark Liberman for damning him with such faint praise.

Dan said...

When Palin can string together: or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure-- that will be the day I will pay attention.


umm, ah, I, ah, I, umm, I, you know, ummm, I, I, umm, ah, I, umm, I, well, um, I, umm, you know, I, um,I,umm, I, you know,I, all with out a teleproctor

reader_iam said...

Fen:


reader: "Republican do X, is very bad!"
reader: "Democrat do X, no big deal"


That has absolutely never been my position, period, full stop, not online and not offline. You're dreaming that it's so doesn't make it so.

From Inwood said...

Dan

I'd guess, rather, that every day that Palin does not sound Lincolnesque, you will pay attention & call attention to that.

Funny, but that's why they use the term "Lincolnesque". It's a standard met by few.

But then have you ever noticed that some (many, all?) people knock those whom they disagree with politically by holding their political reject to impossible standards?

Gives new meaning to the phrase "a statesman is a dead politician".

Say, betcha (to steal a phrase from Palin), you think about the pompous Senator Claghorn Byrd from WV is the Demosthenes of the late 20th & early 21st Centuries.

And that Obama with Massatoosits & Cominskey Park (a Freudian combo of Comiskey & Alinsky?) is an orator for the ages.

Reader

Fen says about you:

reader: "Republican do X, is very bad!"
reader: "Democrat do X, no big deal"


Fen can handle himself, & while you deny that as a general proposition, in this thread you have attacked Prof A’s attempt to put a Palin speech in perspective. I hope that Fen is wrong & look forward to your attack on the Obami when they minimize things like Massatoosits & Cominskey by putting them in perspective: Bush was worse.

reader_iam said...

No, what I'm objecting to is the notion that because of McWhorter's screw up re: Palin, he must be an idiot in every way, on every issue, and etc. etc. etc. etc.

Also, I've never written "Bush was worse" or "Bush did it first" so therefore what Obama's doing is hunky-dory, and nor would I. Good luck at finding any evidence I ever have.

By the way, I didn't vote for Obama, which I guess folks are assuming (God knows why, on the part of some who have been here for a long time and might have noticed whom I've actually voted for over time). Thought he wasn't ready and was insufficiently experienced, and I didn't and don't agree with his philosophical mindset (he's a big gov, especially big fed gov, guy; I'm a limited, local gov gal).

And--OH MY GOD--I voted for Bush and have defended Sarah Palin!!!!

But if you're not 100% down with each and every in-group lyric and line and totally lovin' every tone of the tune, then you should shut up and stop singing.

God, you and the far lefties have so much in common.

former law student said...

A major difference between Lincoln's usage and Palin's: Every "that" that Lincoln used in the Gettysburg Address had an antecedent:

a new nation --> that nation
a great battle-field --> that field
a great civil war --> that war

In contrast, Palin often used "that" in her debate with Biden without any antecedent. (Sometimes she did use "that" the same way that Lincoln did.) Her use of "that" kept making me ask "what nation?" "what civil war?" "what field?":

any parent --> that parent
that warning bell
that reform
that greater oversight
that track record of reform
that proof
that new energy
that commitment
corruption on Wall Street --> that corruption
that first credit card
that redistribution of wealth principle
that energy plan
that massive oversight
that head of abuse (?!?)
only Arctic state --> that state
that central war on terror
that peace
a commitment --> that commitment
Afghanistan --> that country
that straight talk
legislation --> that legislation
Sudan -- that region of the world
the vice president --> that vice president
office of vp --> that position
My experience --> that experience

It's a nervous tic that could drive one batty.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/02/debate.transcript/

From Inwood said...

reader

Strawman alert:

But if you're not 100% down with each and every in-group lyric and line and totally lovin' every tone of the tune, then you should shut up and stop singing.

So, anyone who criticizes you is Far Left or Far Right. Got it.

And there you are in the middle just going after Palin here to show, that well, you're in the middle.

Good trick.

I think that we're talking about your action on this thread in which you have joined assorted outré commenters in attacking Prof A’s reasonable, centrist, moderate attempt to put a Palin speech in perspective.

Basse said...

I'm not a native English speaker, so I might be wrong here, but isn't there a large difference between how you use the word peace and the words in the Gettysburg Address? "Peace" doesn't need an article in front of it, you can just say "forge peace", while, for example, the word "nation" would look ridiculous and unintelligible without the article in front of it. "...testing whether nation..." simply isn't correct English.

Of course, he could have used "this nation". But I don't think he is actually talking about his nation as such. He's talking about the nation that the founding fathers created, he's talking about that ideal of a nation. I think the Americans were as proud of that then as they are now, and he is using it.

Fiona said...

The 'that' in Lincoln's 'that nation' is simply a linguistic marker to indicate a previously mentioned 'nation'. It's nothing like Palin's weird use of 'that' as analyzed by McWhorter. See extract from the Gettysburg address below:
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation,...Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation...can long endure."
And a little further on, he speaks of 'that war' - as in 'that war that I spoke of a sentence or two ago'...
Take things out of context much, Althouse?