December 23, 2011

"The Democratic-controlled Senate" and "the Republican-controlled House of Representatives" do that "payroll tax cut" they've been fussing over.

But I just want to talk about CNN's grammar. In an effort to avoid saying "Democrat" for "Democratic," CNN has said "Democratic" when it makes no sense. "Democratic" is only an adjective, and Democrats are annoyed when Republicans use "Democrat" as an adjective instead of "Democratic," but when you want a noun, you need to say "Democrat."

I could imagine thinking an adverb was needed with "-controlled," but then it would be "Democratically-controlled" and "Republican-controlled" would lack parallelism. But you don't use an adjective to modify an adjective, and
"-controlled" is obviously an adjective.

CNN is overcorrecting itself out of fear of lapsing into the conservative shibboleth "Democrat" for "Democratic."

ADDED: Test my point with another example, used with "-controlled": A school controlled by parents could be called a "parent-controlled" school. You wouldn't dream of calling it a "parental-controlled" school. You might consider "parentally-controlled" (and wouldn't you drop the hyphen?). "Parentally controlled school" wouldn't be grammatically wrong, but it would have the wrong meaning. It would be a school that was controlled in a parental fashion by who-knows-who, not a school controlled by parents.

68 comments:

Salamandyr said...

Right up there with "the first African American athlete from anywhere in the world".

F said...

In the land of swinging pendula, can we ever hope that the pendulum of political correctness will swing back to reason some day?

wv: wasewats Is that like WYSIWYG?

bagoh20 said...

My TV automatically switches between languages when I flip from Fox to CNN. I'm an early adopter and it it's very expensive so far, so you probably can't afford it until I use your portal to buy my Christmas presents tomorrow night.

rhhardin said...

Historically usage was Democratic Party, which I think Rush changed, making it a compound noun, Democrat Party, to avoid giving them a free claim to being particularly democratic.

Tim said...

Yes.

Liberals are so fucking sensitive. They get all butt-hurt over all kinds of things, most of which make no damn sense whatsoever. There is no end to their desire for coddling by the culture.

They're like toddlers that way.

That CNN caters to this whinging is, well, entirely in keeping with who CNN is.

Psota said...

Why go through the trouble of identifying the majority party in either chamber in such a clunky way? Just say "The House and Senate passed a bill." partisan ID can come later.

bagoh20 said...

I was watching CNN last night as someone pretending to be a neutral analyst was describing the Republican field as right wing extremists and the President as a centrist.

So now the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate in 2008 and probably the most left of any person ever elected to POTUS is a centrist, and anyone who wants the nation to return to 2005 levels of spending is an extremist.

The language is very pliable - I'd even call it submissive.

ricpic said...

In Howard Cosell's voice:

AND BOEHNER GOES DOWN!!

MadisonMan said...

The Senate, controlled by Democrats, and the House, controlled by Republicans, pass the payroll tax.

Problem solved.

somefeller said...

It may not be perfect grammar, but the term "Democratic-controlled Senate" isn't unique to CNN. A simple Google search of that term pulls up lots of references to it, including from sources like Fox Business News. Language changes over time.

Skyler said...

If you control the language, you control the mind.

That's the only reason this silly objection to saying "democrat" started.

Thorley Winston said...

I heard the news on the radio during my morning commute to work and immediately called my best friend who agreed with me - if Republicans retain control of the House, they need to pick a new Speaker and we’re both making it a litmus test for any Republican candidates running for office. After seeing how he didn’t even make a good faith effort to get the $100 billion in spending cuts he and other Republicans campaigned on, the way he allowed Obama and Reid to get him to negotiate against himself during the debt ceiling debate and now this meaningless two-month extension of the payroll tax (which will create more compliance headaches for businesses that don’t need it) – a vote to retain John Boehner as Speaker of the House is essentially a vote by Republicans to surrender on every major issue during the next session of Congress.

Boehner must go.

madAsHell said...

"What is the PRIME directive?"

Capt. James T. Kirk

pm317 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"It may not be perfect grammar, but the term "Democratic-controlled Senate" isn't unique to CNN. A simple Google search of that term pulls up lots of references to it, including from sources like Fox Business News. Language changes over time."

If "Democratic" is now a noun, I hope you'll accept things like "Barack Obama is a Democratic" and "I'm going to register to vote as a Democratic."

George Wallace said...

CCN's motives may be as duplicitous as you say, but the phrasing is reasonable if they are referring to the names of the two parties, rather than the identifying term for party members. A member of the Republican Party is called a "Republican"; a member of the Democratic Party, however, is not called a "Democratic," but a "Democrat."

It is perfectly accurate, if profoundly clunky, to speak of the "Democratic [Party]-controlled Senate" and the "Republican [Party]-controlled House of Representatives."

Ann Althouse said...

Overcorrection is the most embarrassing grammatical mistake.

Christopher in MA said...

"Boehner must go."

HOWARD JOHNSON IS RIGHT!!

Hagar said...

I think the Senate Republicans screwed the pooch (again).

I think John Boehner is doing a very good job of navigating in these waters, and it is highly regrettable that he got undercut by his own party's mandarins in a matter this important on principle and so hyped in the media.

And historically I think it has been Republican to Republican-Democratic to Democratic Party. However, on a day like this, grammar be damned!

purplepenquin said...

Why go through the trouble of identifying the majority party in either chamber in such a clunky way?

Because partisanship is REALLY important to some folks, even* those who have no idea at all which party has a majority in Congress.





*And by "even", I mean "especially"

hawkeyedjb said...

Is it a payroll tax cut, or merely a temporary repeal of the previously-enacted payroll tax increases? Damn those Bush Era Tax Cuts, they make it difficult to talk about this.

Chip S. said...

Nice use of "shibboleth", btw.

hawkeyedjb said...

Or should I say, "the previous-enacted?"

Ann Althouse said...

"It is perfectly accurate, if profoundly clunky, to speak of the "Democratic [Party]-controlled Senate" and the "Republican [Party]-controlled House of Representatives.""

Because now you've got a noun in the noun position: Party. You're proving my point that a noun is what's required.

If you're trying to say the word "party" is implied, so the noun is somehow actually there, give me some examples like that.

MayBee said...

Democrats use "Democratic" as a proper noun.

"Republican" is both a proper noun and an adjective, and the Democrats use "Democratic" in the same way, although they also use "Democrat". The rules are based more on convention than grammar. They are the Democratic Party, but they aren't actually democratic.

edutcher said...

What Hagar said.

McConnell and the Senate RINOs, in their eagerness to reach out across the aisle to their friends in the Democrat Party, cut the ground out from under Boehner.

And the reason you see "Democratic-controlled" is because Democrats are sensitive to the fact that, in the years after the Constitution was ratified, the word "democrat" was synonymous with a shameless panderer.

Still is.

Hagar said...

Hawkeye is off, though perhaps excusable given the verbal chicanery surrounding this mess.

The payroll tax is and was 15.65%. This has been temporarily reduced by 2% by act of Congress, making it necessary to make up the additional shortfall in Social Security (SS was already in the red) by additional borrowing for which we will be billed later with interest.

If anything good has come out of this, it must be that all pretense of Social Security being an "insurance" or "retirement savings" program has now been abandoned.

Meade said...

Ann Althouse said...

"Overcorrection is the most embarrassing grammatical mistake."

This comment cleared the grammat-controlled blog by unanimous consent, a proceduralic move allowing the comment to pass even though most readers of the blog are now home for the holidays, franticistically doing their last minute shopping.

Ann Althouse said...

"Democrats use "Democratic" as a proper noun."

Give me an example of that in a sentence, please!

"Franklin Roosevelt was a Democratic." Does that work for you?

Dark Eden said...

I've never understood what's the big deal between Democrat and Democratic. Does it rise to official state sanctioned Shibboleth levels? Isn't a Shibboleth an HP Lovecraft monster? Does an IC added to the end of something prevent the rise of Things Mankind Was Not Meant to Know?

Hagar said...

Oh, the temporary payroll tax reduction is called a "tax holiday," which sounds like a British term. he tax is not actually reduced, a benevolent Congress just excuses you from paying the 2% for a set period.

Hagar said...

Democrats tend to be of a sensitive nature that easily take offense at imagined slights.

hawkeyedjb said...

Now that Hagar 'splained it, I think I understand: we're borrowing our retirement from China. That's a good plan, as long as I'm dead before China wants its money back.

MayBee said...


Give me an example of that in a sentence, please!


Franklin Roosevelt was a Democratic President.

They are not describing the type of president he was. He was no more a "democratic" president than Nixon was "republican". It is naming the party he was from.

As I said, it isn't perfect grammar because they've made up the convention.

Jose_K said...

So what. The USA is a republic not a democracy

Chip S. said...

Doesn't this problem go back to the breakup of the original "Democratic-Republican" Party? The name made perfect sense in its original form, since our form of government is a democratic republic.

As names of two independent parties, the constituent parts don't make quite as much sense.

shiloh said...

Grammar minutiae aside, Boehner/Cantor et al teabaggers caved!

Let's move on, shall we ...

Hagar said...

"Hidden is not forgotten," said the bear.

Bender said...

McConnell and the Senate RINOs, in their eagerness to reach out across the aisle to their friends in the Democrat Party, cut the ground out from under Boehner
____________

If Boehner had not engaged in typical backroom politics, and had instead followed regular order, he would not have been burned.

The House is NOT a one-man operation -- especially NOT one run by that boob.

Boehner should have simply minded his own business. The House should have minded its own business instead of once again seeking to negotiate and "make a deal." It is f***ing insider games like this that have made a total clusterf*ck of modern governance.

If Boehner and the House had simply passed its own bill, a one-year bill, with a REAL vote (yeas and nays), and sent it to the Senate, Boehner would not have had this blow up in his face, as he deserved it to do.

It is his own damn fault. Quit trying to "negotiate," get out of the damned backroom, and legislate out in the open like the process is supposed to be done.

Paddy O said...

Reid is a Democratic-American, maybe?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Franklin Roosevelt was a Democratic President

Nope.

Diagram that sentence. President is the noun.

Franklin Roosevelt was a President.

That sentence is correct.

Franklin Roosevelt was a democratic. Democratic What?

Just becuase you capitalize a word...Democratic....doesn't make it a noun. It is an adjective

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You can say: Franklin Roosevelt was a Democrat.

That would be correct since the word Democrat is a noun.

No matter how much the Democrats want to make it different democratic is not and will never be a noun. If wishes were fishes......

"Reid is a Democratic-American, maybe?"

Nope. Still an adjective describing the noun American.

Mary Beth said...

Overcorrection is the most embarrassing grammatical mistake.

The overcorrection that annoys me most is the use of "I" or "myself" when they should use "me". Even Harvard educated presidents do this.

Back on topic, I agree that it should be "Democrat" not "Democratically". Does CNN say it that way when they are delivering the news on the air? I think people will use clunky expressions in their writing that they would intuitively know not to use when speaking.

Maybe they would rather be right than correct.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why go through the trouble of identifying the majority party in either chamber in such a clunky way

I think they should wear identifying tee shirts. Something other than the tired red/blue dicotomy.

Maybe zebras and tigers with some holsteins for the libertarians.

Strips and polka dots. Maybe even some helicopter beanies in different colors. It would be awesome. I would totally watch C-Span if they did.

vw: weezzo !!! LOL

MayBee said...

Franklin Roosevelt was a democratic.
No matter how much the Democrats want to make it different democratic is not and will never be a noun. If wishes were fishes......


Well, we don't really disagree.
I'm saying "Democratic President" is correct because that's what Democrats want to be called. That's how they want their name used.
It isn't a grammar thing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It isn't a grammar thing

Yes, it IS a grammar thing.

Just because they want to change the rules of the language and use an adjective as a noun; it doesn't make it correct.

If I want 2+2 to equal 5. It doesn't make it so.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Eventually words CAN change from noun to verb and so on.

For example Xerox is a noun that eventually became accepted as a verb. I'm going to xerox (verb) a copy (noun).

Same thing with Google.

However, there has not been that morphing of Democratic as an adjective to a noun, mainly because there is ALREADY a perfectly acceptable noun to describe the item....Democrat.

The Xerox and Google are examples of words that didn't exist. They were NEW words and were not replacing already accepted and commonly used words.

MayBee said...

there is ALREADY a perfectly acceptable noun to describe the item....Democrat.

But it isn't acceptable to the people who belong to that group.

For whatever reason, they see it as a pejorative. We alter our language to avoid pejoratives all the time.

I think it's silly, but what's the harm of just using the term the way they want it used?

Methadras said...

Ah yes, the democrat party. The party that wants to give you everything and a government willing to do it as long as you pay for it. And the republican party, the silent majority of cowards who want to get along to go along so they don't look like scrooges.

Hagar said...

With their record, who would not see it as pejorative?

rcommal said...

Perhaps we ought to revive democratian.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But it isn't acceptable to the people who belong to that group.

Too bad. There are lots of things I don't find acceptable. I don't go around insisting that the rules of grammar, math or anything else be changed just for me.

For whatever reason, they see it as a pejorative. We alter our language to avoid pejoratives all the time.

I think it's silly, but what's the harm of just using the term the way they want it used?


Because

1.) it isn't correct usage

2.) the reason that they want to use Democrat--ic is for propaganda purposes. By co-opting the term democratic they are attempting, like a leopard, to change spots.

3.) the implication is that they are democrat-ic and the republican party is not...democratic.

4.) The word, "democratic" has a distinct and unique definition and they should not be allowed to eff around with the language for propaganda purposes

It is false, disingenuous and manipulative.

Plus....it is incorrect usage.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

over a primmy grammatical correction post?

(oh dear: should that be grammar correction post??)


Yes, she said, with lips primly pursed.

:-D

MayBee said...

It is false, disingenuous and manipulative.

So is calling themselves "Democrats", for that matter.
Especially the way they ran their own primaries in 2008.

Hagar said...

prissy

Mary Beth said...

Strips and polka dots. Maybe even some helicopter beanies in different colors. It would be awesome. I would totally watch C-Span if they did.

Send in the clowns.

shiloh said...

"Send in the clowns."

Sorry, Boehner/Cantor er the clowns just left Washington totally embarrassed, so ...

And where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns.
Well, maybe next year.


wv: cuncy ~ never mind

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Strips and polka dots. Maybe even some helicopter beanies in different colors. It would be awesome. I would totally watch C-Span if they did.

Send in the clowns.

Don't bother....they're here.

Hagar said...

Brown shirts and Sam Browne belts are kind of out of fashion, but T-shirts with SEIU logos will do.

Bender said...

Send in the clowns.

Don't bother....they're here.

___________

Now they have left.

If only they would stay away and not come back.

Original Mike said...

"If "Democratic" is now a noun, I hope you'll accept things like "Barack Obama is a Democratic""

Nah, he's a socialist.

Blair said...

I'm very sorry those Commiecrats get offended by what I call them.

ken in sc said...

Shibboleth was a Hebrew word which was pronounced differently by different Israelite tribes. Some pronounced it 'shibboleth', and others 'sibboleth'. During an Israelite civil war, the word was used to identify friend and foe.

HT said...

George Wallace has it correct (the party is implied), as does rhardin, who lays it out honestly at least.

rhhardin said...

Historically usage was Democratic Party, which I think Rush changed, making it a compound noun, Democrat Party,



Talk about bad faith
Skyler said...

If you control the language, you control the mind.

That's the only reason this silly objection to saying "democrat" started.

Roux said...

They are Democrats and they are the Democrat Party.... They can deny it all they want unless they really want to come out of the closet and admit they are facists.

EMD said...

Wait, is it Hypocrite or Hypocritic Party?

I always get those confused.

Revenant said...

"Democratic Party" is the actual name of the party in question.

"Democrat party" would be accurate. "Democrat Party" is not, because "Democrat Party" is (a) a proper name and (b) NOT the proper name of the Democratic Party.

Alex said...

Gimmickry is the order of the day in D.C.