March 1, 2011

Chief Justice Roberts teaches a language lesson: "The noun 'crab' refers variously to a crustacean and a type of apple, while the related adjective 'crabbed' can refer to handwriting that is 'difficult to read'..."

"... 'corny' can mean 'using familiar and stereotyped formulas believed to appeal to the unsophisticated,' which has little to do with 'corn,' ('the seeds of any of the cereal grasses used for food'); and while 'crank' is “a part of an axis bent at right angles,' 'cranky' can mean 'given to fretful fussiness."

And the point is, a corporation may be a "person" within the meaning of the Freedom of Information statute, but that doesn't mean it's gets in on the "personal" privacy referred to elsewhere in the statute.
[I]n ordinary usage, a noun and its adjective form may have meanings as disparate as any two unrelated words. ...

"Person" is a defined term in the statute; “personal” is not. When a statute does not define a term, we typically “give the phrase its ordinary meaning.”... “Personal” ordinarily refers to individuals. We do not usually speak of personal characteristics, personal effects, personal correspondence, personal influence, or personal tragedy as referring to corporations or other artificial entities. This is not to say that corporations do not have correspondence, influence, or tragedies of their own, only that we do not use the word “personal” to describe them.

Certainly, if the chief executive officer of a corporation approached the chief financial officer and said, "I have something personal to tell you," we would not assume the CEO was about to discuss company business. Responding to a request for information, an individual might say, "that’s personal." A company spokesman, when asked for information about the company, would not.
Crisply explained!

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
While he's got the FCC's attention, mention that the "fucking" in "fucking brilliant" is not an adjective.
Ha! He's referring to this FCC opinion:
The complainants allege that the licensees named in their respective complaints aired the “Golden Globe Awards” program, during which the performer Bono uttered the phrase “this is really, really, fucking brilliant,” or “this is fucking great.”...

The word “fucking” may be crude and offensive, but, in the context presented here, did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities. Rather, the performer used the word “fucking” as an adjective or expletive to emphasize an exclamation. Indeed, in similar circumstances, we have found that offensive language used as an insult rather than as a description of sexual or excretory activity or organs is not within the scope of the Commission’s prohibition of indecent program content.
"Fucking" can be an adjective, as in "You're a fucking crank," "Watch out for the fucking crab," or "I can't believe you're serving fucking corn again," but in the Bono boast, it's a fucking adverb.

41 comments:

edutcher said...

Mr Roberts does not seem susceptible to the linguistic gymnastics the Lefties usually employ before credulous judges of the same persuasion.

JAL said...

Once upon a time, words had meaning.

It is refreshing to be reminded that there are important people who still know that.

tooclass said...

what's a lan gauge?

chickelit said...

tooclass said...
what's a lan gauge?

Don't be so impedantic! :)

MadisonMan said...

We trust that AT&T will not take it personally.

(chuckle)

Triangle Man said...

what's a lan gauge?

How else do you measure bandwidth?

rhhardin said...

While he's got the FCC's attention, mention that the "fucking" in "fucking brilliant" is not an adjective.

G Joubert said...

Early on in my legal career it dawned on me that lawyer's, judge's, indeed the entire legal system's entire currency was nothing but words.

EnigmatiCore said...

"The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations. We trust that AT&T will not take it personally."

Ha! Brilliant close!

t-man said...

The Court's ruling is correct as a matter of stautory intepretation, but the statute should be amended to protect from disclosure confidential business information. This will be a nightmare for any company facing a government investigation.

Expat(ish) said...

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

traditionalguy said...

Using the same words used to confuse two different things are a favorite trick. The biggest example of tha trick today is calling a colorless and valuable trace gas emitted by human breath and other blessings to human activities an Unclean Carbon Pollutant, thereby intentionally confusing it with a lump of dirty black coal.

traditionalguy said...

Do you remember the Don Newhart Show's characters "Daryl and my other brother Daryl". Maybe that is why man's first job entrusted to his human mind on earth was naming the animals and the other things on the earth he was made master over.

zbogwan99 said...

Crabbed can also refer to Obamas speeches that are hard to get a read on: He says one thing to gain political points and then does the exact opposite with his actions?

Obamas the King of Crabbing, so to speak?

Kev said...

(the other kev)

Can he explain the different definitions of 'is?' Some of us have been waiting a while for that.

Chip Ahoy said...

Crabbing also means sideways motion, as flying an airplane forward at an angle. Also skiing downhill sideways with as much downward motion as forward motion.

Carol_Herman said...

What Corporation Law really does is PROTECT the assets of those RISKING CAPITOL!

Guess what? If you opened a business, but the law didn't protect you from creditors, you would not make taking the risk worth it!

So, in Capitalism, to MOVE CAPITAL AROUND, you have to protect human beings from losing EVERYTHING ... for no other reason than they took a business risk.

And, that's what CORPORATIONS means. It means it weighs what happens to those big businesses ... where money is a prime mover when the jobs are there ... And, wealth gets spread around.

How hard is this to understand?

Fred4Pres said...

The verb being "is brilliant"

So yeah, its an adverb the way Bono used it.

But just don't use fucking as a verb, or you might get in trouble.

TMink said...

You guys should watch your fucking language.

Trey

roesch-voltaire said...

Right and those fucking corporations have a right to all the free speech they can afford.

bagoh20 said...

Oh, I disagree. I caught the fucking crabs once. It's an adjective.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Because I'm in a pedantic mood... It's Bob Newhart, not Don. And the show in question was named simply "Newhart".

bagoh20 said...

And the fucking corporations have all the same rights as any other corporation, even if they are sinfully profitable.

rhhardin said...

Of course it's just a syntactic matter, whether it's an adverb or adjective.

In point of fact, it's not semantically either. Syntax is being made a convenience of.

Its function is to mark the entire utterance in which it occurs, not to modify any word.

But that's no reason to get the syntax analysis wrong.

"Fuck," incidentally, is not a verb, as proven by McCawley writing as Quang Phuc Dong here, though it's missing some of the footnote exposition of the original in Studies out in Left Field.

bagoh20 said...

Now the fucking unions - that's another story. There are two types of those - the ones that fuck you and the ones that fuck everyone else. Ive been a member of both and often ashamed of how ugly unions can be.

And yes, they all have free speech rights.

Sofa King said...

I want a fucking car, right fucking now.

JP said...

So umm, I use fucking with a hard [free play on words, use it or lose it] A, with when angry or exasperated.

In that context, what is fucking?

kiner:

Played baseball, first name Ralph. Began career with the Pittsburgh Pirates..

AST said...

Reread the post title, Ann. "A langauge lesson:"

Richard Dolan said...

"Syntax is being made a convenience of."

Passive is as passive doesn't.

Trooper York said...

A crab is also something you might acquire if hang out with Amanda Marcotte. Just sayn'

Clyde said...

You may not touch my monkey!

gloogle said...

Is "fucking brilliantly" OK too? Becuase I do that a lot....

Fred4Pres said...

gloogle, okay--glad to hear you are getting off, but when you are alone it really does not count.

Fred4Pres said...

Amanda Marcotte picks crabs out of hair like a babboon.

And she does it fucking brilliantly (I hear).

The Crack Emcee said...

"Fucking" can be an adjective, as in "You're a fucking crank," "Watch out for the fucking crab," or "I can't believe you're serving fucking corn again," but in the Bono boast, it's a fucking adverb.

Don't be afraid of the word motherfucker!

Ralph L said...

Amanda Marcotte picks crabs out of hair like a babboon
Why do you think the John Edwads [sic] campaign hired her?

You're fucking brilliant only if you can get Stella's colored lights going.

Ken Mitchell said...

When I was freshly graduated from the US Navy "boot camp" and returned home for leave prior to my first assignment, my father (a crusty old USAF sergeant) told me "Son, just remember. When you ask your mother to pass the butter, don't DESCRIBE the butter."

Juba Doobai! said...

"IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
While he's got the FCC's attention, mention that the "fucking" in "fucking brilliant" is not an adjective." And he's right, too. It's an adverb of manner. You gotta love grammar, and you gotta love a language that has a word of such flexibility that it ranges the parts of speech.

Juba Doobai! said...

" bagoh20 said...
Oh, I disagree. I caught the fucking crabs once. It's an adjective."

In your sentence it's an adjective; as the original commenter used it, it's an adverb cuz it answers the question "how brilliant is it?/what is the manner of it's brilliance?"

Largo said...

Fuck the fucking fuckers.

Largo said...

@Ken Mitchell

Haha!

I like your dad.

(...and I'll refrain from saying how much)