September 8, 2010

"But neither the sekrit muslin theory nor the hippie revival theory seems likely to be true."

Language Log sniffs out the origins of "talk about me like a dog."

68 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

Someone should call the SPCA, and get a statement.

He should at least have added, "Not that there's anything wrong with being a dog..."

Lem said...

William Safire would have gotten to bottom of it.

shoutingthomas said...

Obama never really faced criticism until he became president.

The Democrats and their lapdogs in the press were so thrilled by the fruition of their Diversity dream that criticism of Obama was completely off limits. Even Hillary couldn't touch him without being destroyed.

He's thin skinned, and probably always will be.

Bob Ellison said...

I'm just surprised that a Harvard Law grad would so badly mess up basic grammar. "They talk about me like a dog." So they're barking about him?

He meant to say "they talk about me the way they'd talk about a dog," but that wound sound stupid...unlike what he said, of course.

Scott M said...

I care not a whip about this topic and would never bother to comment in a thread about it.

AllenS said...

I think Obama meant to say "they treat me like a dog". Foreigners have a hard time with our metaphors, similes, and other figures of speech. Let alone the number of states that we have.

HDHouse said...

@AllenS...Yessir. Foreigners had trouble understanding Mr. Bush too. That led to all kinds of problems. Thank goodness we have a president who speaks in whole sentences.

We all assume that is what you meant by your comment.

Shanna said...

I like the jimi hendrix speculation best. It's such an Obama thing to do! Language Log can't say it's not true because they have no idea.

roesch-voltaire said...

Who let the dogs out? Is this African American idiom; it seems so from the quotes.

shoutingthomas said...

Thank goodness we have a president who speaks in whole sentences.

Here we go with HenHouse and his asshole fixation on his own brilliance.

Do you really run a business? Hard to see how with this sort of childish attitude.

I keep asking you: Did you find any bigots under your bed last night?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So, basically 'talk about me like a dog' is a black idiom.

Obama was raised in Hawaii by wealthy white people and went to a private school of children of other wealthy people. Since other than the color of his skin, there is nothing "black" as in the terms of "black culture" in his background, this tells us that Obama is once again faking it and putting on the accent and mannerisms to play the game and assume the mantle of 'black victim'.

What a poser. November can't come soon enough and neither can 2012.

shoutingthomas said...

And, HenHouse, before you get started.

I'm not exactly a partisan of President Bush.

He started the bailout fiasco. That was a disastrous mistake that Obama has only compounded.

Bush was in on the Community Reinvestment Act attack on the housing lending markets.

But, this tactic you use is just stupid.

Why don't you quit while you're ahead... or behind as the case may be.

I've met some extremely sharp minds who seldom speak at all, and don't worry much about full sentences. I'm talking about some mechanics and tinkerers I've known.

And, I wouldn't object one of those guys being president.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I had two dogs growing up and always talked to them very nicely and with love.

Except when they shit on the rug.

Maybe he doesn't know the difference.

Franco said...

Obama should be kept on a shorter leash and not scamper away from his prepared comments.

David said...

My dog is still annoyed.

cryptical said...

HDHouse: There's no proof that Obama has a higher IQ than W, and my guess is that all the hidden school records show that Barry is intellectually mediocre at best.

A.W. said...

i wrote this over at the language blog:

On the Hendrix thing.

This kind of doesn't prove your point. I mean citing Bobby Brown and 2001 sermons. Well, okay, but here's the problem with that, which is where did they get these terms from? Literally all but one of your references was to statements made after Hendrix wrote the song. The basic argument is that it is a phrase just kind of floating around the african american community. Well, okay, but you know, my understanding is that Obama really wasn't part very much of that community growing up, being raised by his white mother, and his white grandparents, in Kansas if memory serves, not to mention his time in Indonesia.

Maybe Hendrix doesn't own the patent on that term. But Stone Free is probably one of the most famous uses of it, in a song that finds play to this day on classic rock stations. indeed when they did a tribute album to hendrix it was called "stone free." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Free

So which is more likely? That he picked it up from a mid-nineties ebony article? Or from a famous song from one of the greatest guitarists ever to live? And i might add, in a song that would have resonated with obama because it was expressing the desire to be a free rolling stone, much like his father was.

I would add that its neither here nor there. I have a problem with alot of what the president is doing, but quoting hendrix doesn't bother me at all. i think its funny given what the song is about. But what is annoying is his sense of wounded egotism. But if anything he gets points for style, if he really meant to invoke hendrix.

SteveR said...

"um" full sentence

"ummm" full sentence

"uh " full sentence

""uh" full sentence

Paul Zrimsek said...

As a dog returneth to choke to death on his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

Der Hahn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

"We all assume that is what you meant by your comment."

house,don't ever speak for me, m'kay?

Ever.

Der Hahn said...

LL is straining mightily to throw up a smokescreen around the most obvious interpretation of the phrase .. that Obama is indirectly claiming that opposition to his policies is racial based (they talk about me like I’m a "prejorative for a black man")

Triangle Man said...

@DBQ

Sounds like a caste system.

We are only permitted to use the idioms and expressions of our parents, childhood peers, and possibly the childhood regional dialect? What about our social mobility?

"Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling?"

Shanna said...

We are only permitted to use the idioms and expressions of our parents, childhood peers, and possibly the childhood regional dialect? What about our social mobility?

Of course not, but if you start randomly throwing in a southern/british/hindi accent when you've never spent any time in any of those places, it is going to be suspect. (And yes, I'm still irritated about his stupid fake southern accent when he was saying that american's can't speak french. "parlez-vous francais".)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Sounds like a caste system.

We are only permitted to use the idioms and expressions of our parents, childhood peers, and possibly the childhood regional dialect? What about our social mobility?


It is one thing to use those idioms and expressions naturally and consistently. It is another to, chameleon like, put on the accent or idiom so you can take advantage of the gullibility of the voters and the crowd. Putting on and off his accent and talking the talk depending on who he is addressing. His fake southern accent, Reverend Wright type preaching cadence and fake use of black cultural slang when it is expedient.....then reverting to his also probably fake Harvard educated elitist lecturing speaking tone when addressing the "typical white folks". Which is the real Obama. Who knows. He is fake through and through.

Hillary did it too with her gratingly fake southern accent.

Obama was not raised in a culture that used those idioms or tone of voice or speaking cadance. This isn't to say that people don't change over time and when they change geographic locations they are influenced by the language around them.

However, you don't change from moment to moment or from crowd to crowd.....unless you are a faker and poser like Obama, Hillary and others who are cynical users.

Robert Cook said...

Perhaps it's a literary allusion to Kafka's THE TRIAL,, and the last words of the novel.

Kirby Olson said...

I'm not fond of dogs (I was a paperboy), but I would never treat one badly. What's wrong with Obama?

Can he be cur'd?

He needs a curate!

I didn't like Obama two years ago when he ran and outraced all the the other hounddogs. By now, I can't stand the sight of him, or the cheap tricks he uses to try to make people feel sorry for him. This whimpering business is just another dogged form of PC.

If he were a ninja, he would have done the honorable thing and committed seppaku, or however you spell it. But instead he just goes on whimpering like a dog. It's so much more effective with his handlers!

He acts like a dog that has been hit with a newspaper!

But the strange thing is that except for the WSJ, all the newspapers do is print nice things about him, even though he's shitting all over the country and making the place unfit for human habitation.

I hope PETA gets on him for his slanderous remarks about canines! This guy just keeps crying wolf even though he's really just a tiny little yapping chihuahua.

Bush never once whined or whimpered. Never once! He made a much better pet!

chuckR said...

sekrit muslin theory.....

so, he's a Mormon?

I guess that muslin would be scratchy and could account for his general peckishness

garage mahal said...

Surprised Althouse hasn't picked up on the Koran burning brouhaha...

Shanna said...

Hillary did it too with her gratingly fake southern accent.

At least Hillary lived in the south for a good 15/20 years. Where has Obama lived? (hint, not the south!).

Scott M said...

Surprised Althouse hasn't picked up on the Koran burning brouhaha...

You're for that, though, right, GM? I mean, it's a clear expression of 1st Amendment speech. Granted, it's not the best idea and I wouldn't do it, but it IS legal protest, right? Like flag burning? Right?

garage mahal said...

Sounds like you already have it all figured out. Then why ask?

Scott M said...

To get your opinion of it. Simply stated, what is it?

roesch-voltaire said...

Dust yes let us discount that Obama has no "black culture' after all he did not attend a predominately African American church, and he doesn't play pick-up basketball, where from my experience quite a few interesting street expression are exchanged, but then I am not an expert on the matter as you seem to be.

garage mahal said...

To get your opinion of it. Simply stated, what is it?

Stupid but legal in short. I think burning the American Flag should really carry some punishment though. Like maybe one day in jail.

"What ya in for"?

"Ah..."

Scott M said...

Some part of hell just froze over, Garage, as I agree with you on the book burning thing.

roesch-voltaire, regarding the not-black-enough thing, perhaps you've missed the growing number of black writers/pundits that are saying exactly that. Not that it makes it any more true or valid, just that it's just as ridiculous as the entire topic.

His point, though, about affecting local colloquialisms and patterns of speech stands up. It's transparent and, apparently, tolerated with someone like Hillary does it.

traditionalguy said...

The attributes of a dog are not nearly Obama's character. A dog is super loyal, alert to his masters presence, and commiserates with his master's pains. You are not a dog, Barry. You are more like a skunk.

traditionalguy said...

Everybody that I talk to just hangs their head and looks miserable when the subject of Obama come up. He is a total reject at this point. And it was the last 1000 lies that he told that has made everyone give up on him. Americans instinctively know that no fix will happen until the truth starts to be told us by a gutsy leader like a Washington or a Jackson. Obama's Party Line crap from the bowels of Karl Marx's hell don't cut it anymore. He should have asked Putin.

c3 said...

This is the money quote:

That's not in my prepared remarks,

Clearly

But I have to say, like my dog Nutmeg, who is forever faked out when I DON'T throw the toy and runs off looking for it, our president continues to run out to the stump, sure he'll find those saved jobs, let alone all of those loyal followers who voted for him in '08.

holdfast said...

Two thoughts:

1) Obama spent his formative years with white people (hippies and libs) and Indonesians, so this is part of his "becoming blacker" effort, like his attendance at Rev Wright's church of Jew and Whitey Hatin'?

2) What are the origins of this expression in black culture, and does it have anything to do with Michael Vick. In my immediate neighborhood there are plenty of nice middle class blacks who appear to love their canine companions and treat them well, but drive a ways to the less salubrious part of town and it is all pit bull and rotties, with ripped ears and patches of fur missing.

Hagar said...

So it was a Jimi Hendrix quote, which means it was a writer's sort of thing and from someone older than Obama. It most likely was in his script and he was warned to omit it, but since the speech was going so well, he decided to throw it in anyway.

Any way you slice it, it was not something for a U.S. President to do.


Wv: achie - just this kind of faux pas.

holdfast said...

Garage said "Stupid but legal in short."

I agree, both with respect to the GZ Mosque and the threatened Koran burning. And in both cases, it is likely to cause the group doing it to be [more] despised, and rightly so.

Although the routine throat cutting, stoning, flag buring, acid-into-face tossing, incitements to murder and genocide and other revolting idiocy that is constantly spewing forth from the Muslim world occasionally makes me want to burn a warehouse full of Korans, one has to take a deep breath and remember that (i) burning stuff you don't like is their culture, not ours - we ARE better than that (and them) and there's no reason to lower ourselves, and (ii) it WILL get US and Allied troops killed, maybe directly, and almost certainly in the long run as it makes it even harder to stabilize places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

jamboree said...

It's an expression - like "working like a dog". It's not supposed to be grammatically correct. I'm sure I've heard it immortalized in song .

I've had two friends who used it a lot or similar - one was black and one was Lebanese-Armenian. (Middle Eastern, but not Muslim. Armenians are commonly a type of Christian , and they have the genocide scars to prove it.)

Quick lyric search came up with Beatles' "working like a dog" and George Harrison's "they treated you like a dog" (talking about John Lennon). And Muddy Waters "you treat me like a dog" from "Baby Please Don't Go."

Almost Ali said...

Seems like we're going out of our way not to upset moderate Muslims. Like burning a few Korans will push them right over the edge.

LordSomber said...

Roll over, play dead.
Get spiritual minded.

FormerTucsonan said...

Wherever he picked it up (and I'm betting it was during his community organizer days), I doubt it was from Hendrix. Obama does not impress me as cool enough to listen to Hendrix. That's why it stands out so, it's like Joe Friday trying to talk like a Hippie.

Almost Ali said...

I thinks it's safe to say that the Koran has as much lower kindling point than Fahrenheit 451.

"What traitors books can be! You think they're backing you up, and they turn on you." - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Lem said...

In the Bobby Brown quote - he is disgusted by the way he is portrayed in the media. 'The press has really destroyed my name," he says. "They don't know me and they talk about me like a dog. It's lies! they don't check sources. I just don't like the way they slander my name."

Is Bobby Brown saying he passed up a chance to "clear" his name by suing for "slander"?

Unless it was like Obama - what "they" were saying was true.

Another question..
Why would somebody make up lies about a dog?

Even if the term is some obscure colloquialism - When you are the president of the United States you should strive to be clear.

CBCD said...

As I read elsewhere, this explains the need for a new rug in the Oval Office.

Lem said...

As I read elsewhere, this explains the need for a new rug in the Oval Office.

I cant say I agree with you there CBCD.. The president is entitled to his own prayer rug ;)

Lucien said...

I don't have a dog in this fight, but so the guy (the Mr. President guy)used a figure of speech. Now people want to say he's not black enough to use it? That dawg won't hunt.

No one gets on gentiles for saying chutzpah, or non-military folks for saying SNAFU or FUBAR.

Those who over-react to this because they disagree with President Obama on other grounds are just going to wind up srewing the pooch on this one.

Hoosier Daddy said...
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Hoosier Daddy said...

Granted, it's not the best idea and I wouldn't do it, but it IS legal protest, right? Like flag burning? Right?

What gives me chuckles is the fear that some obscure non-demoninational pastor down in Florida burning a Koran is going to cause the Muslims to go on a murderous rampage.

Kinda shoots a big gigantic hole in that theory of the vast majority of Muslims are moderate and peaceful.

Not going to have much luck finding common ground with a billion and a half folks who are on a hair trigger over something that we consider a Constitutional right. I mean we burn our own flag, desecrate Christian icons as 'works of art', depict the Pope as a Nazi but burn a Koran??? The horror!

Hoosier Daddy said...

one has to take a deep breath and remember that (i) burning stuff you don't like is their culture, not ours - we ARE better than that (and them) and there's no reason to lower ourselves,

Actually our 'culture' has done a pretty bang up job of burning, denigrating and overall making a mockery of Christianity for, oh, the last half century. I mean I can see your point but its a bit rich that we're suddenly going to be respectful of someone religion.

and (ii) it WILL get US and Allied troops killed, maybe directly, and almost certainly in the long run as it makes it even harder to stabilize places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

You know what? You are probably right, sadly. That being the case can we stop pretending that the West will ever find any kind of commonality and tolerance with the Muslim world? Or should we simply admit that our 'rights' such as freedom of expression are not compatible with them and demand that any offensive acts, works of art, cartoons or protests be limited to those groups who won't blow your ass up.

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

I care not a whit about the hows, whats and whys of Obama's taste in rhetorical bon mots, though "they talk about me like a dog" is so particularly impoverished that it only lends more doubt to the subject of his native intelligence. (One can only marvel at his magna cum laude matriculation from Harvard Law, and suspect there was enough grade fudging going on there to corner the cocoa futures market. Ah, but if the Nobel Committee could be corrupted beyond all future credibility, why not Harvard, eh? The man pollutes very thing he touches.)

“They talk about me like a dog.” Hmmph. A plea for pity from the downtrodden workers of this formerly great nation. What a spineless little bleater he is after all.

During the eight years of the last Administration the Democrats and their myrmidons heaped the most vile abuse their pea brains could concoct upon the head of GWB – comparing him to a ape in the first hysterical gasp and in the next breath comparing him to Hitler, yet Bush acknowledged not a bit of it. (Sadly the lexicon of lefty insults is thin indeed. The rhetoricians of MoveOn.Org and the Huff’n Puffing Post have all the predatory flair of delinquent ninth graders) Never once did he whimper or whinge. There were no bit lips or barely contained red-faced tantrums. Is it any wonder that given the choice most Americans would rather have Bush back?

Quaestor said...

Sometimes SpellCheck works its own evil will.

Eric said...

Wherever he picked it up (and I'm betting it was during his community organizer days), I doubt it was from Hendrix.

I'm guessing Rev. Wright's church. Wright has a huge chip on his shoulder, even bigger than Obama's, and I have no doubt he's complained Whitey and Jews have treated him like a dog.

Irene said...

I think the reference goes back to a "barking dogs" remark Obama made that Glenn Beck then used to hound him.

holdfast said...

Hoosier:

I have very little respect for Islam as such or the Koran itself, but I also try to be someone who can respect himself, and burning books - any books - doesn't fit with the kind of person I want to be. That said I do have respect, and sympathy, for the truly moderate Muslims who are trying to make a go of it in that messed up religion/death cult.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Definitely a black thang. Othello used to complain, "They talk about me like a Doge."

richard mcenroe said...

Could be he's just nuts...

Robert Cook said...

Hoosier Daddy said:

"Actually our 'culture' has done a pretty bang up job of burning, denigrating and overall making a mockery of Christianity for, oh, the last half century."

Baloney. We're so self-righteous, ostentatiously pious, and self-flatteringly proud of being a "Christian nation" (sic) that we can't even see how hateful and violent and un-Christian a people we really are.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Baloney. We're so self-righteous, ostentatiously pious, and self-flatteringly proud of being a "Christian nation" (sic) that we can't even see how hateful and violent and un-Christian a people we really are.

Cook, seriously shut up. For someone who spews nothing but hate and disdain for this country you're either a complete hypocrite for continuing to live here enjoying its benefits or a troll.

Fen said...

Der Hahn Obama is indirectly claiming that opposition to his policies is racial based (they talk about me like I’m a "prejorative for a black man")

This.

Quaestor said...

Hoosier Daddy wrote: "Cook, seriously shut up..."

Relax. Robert Cook is engaging in his usual puerile display of passive-aggressive baiting. Your reaction gives his words more weight than they deserve.

Robert Cook said...

I have no hate for this country, for what we're supposed to be...but I have plenty of disdain for the barbarians who seethe within its borders, who maraud through its corporate boardrooms and halls of power and who make its policies, and who mouth platitudes about its abiding greatness, it's Constitutional splendor, while shitting all over the Constitution and on any notion of government "by the people, of the people, and for the people," and who commit evil in its (and our) name.

Those who scorn critics of America's lawlessness and violence would have accused Christ of hating his religion for throwing the money changers out of the temple, or white blood cells of being traitors to the body for attacking virulent infecting cells, viruses, and bacteria.

It's not the duty of citizens to be cheerleaders for their country, but to be vigilant guards against and vocal critics of every instance where their country betrays its principles and violates justice or commits violence against its own or others.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Just because Cook hates the actually existing America, that doesn't mean he doesn't wuv his own imaginary America.