Tag Archives: rants

Global Communication Today

Khrushchev banging shoe

Reported today in the Times of Israel (https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog-april-30-2018/)

In a series of tweets, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accuses the US of creating instability in the Middle East and warns it will “certainly suffer from defeat” if it confronts the Islamic Republic.

Is it just me, or is there irony and even humor in the fact that the Ayatollah has a Twitter account? There’s something about saber-rattling via Twitter—a medium originally designed to inform your friends where you were enjoying happy hour and with whom—that takes some of the sting out of the warning.

What if Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had tweeted “We will bury you!” in 1956 instead of making the threat in person to a group of ambassadors and striking fear in the hearts of parents everywhere? The world may little note nor long remember everything Khrushchev said, but the world is still talking about his scarily banging his shoe on the table at a U. N. meeting in 1960—even though there’s a distinct possibility that the Soviet leader never did such a thing at all.

The Ayatollah’s tweet, by the way, garnered a measly 679 likes.

*

Donald Trump, at an April 28 rally in Michigan:

All of these [Hispanics} pouring across [the border] are gonna vote Democrat. They do it for a lot of reasons. A lot of times they don’t even know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, but we have to have borders and we need it fast.

Where to start? For one thing, does the president really believe that the first act of undocumented workers once they cross the border is to register to vote—assuming that the possibility is even available to them? Moreover, I would suppose that those fleeing all manner of ills in their countries of origin know exactly what they’re doing and why.

Finally, allow me to remind the president that a pronoun must agree with its antecedent. “We have to have borders and we need it fast”? Mr. President, you need to learn English, and you need it fast.

A tiny capitalization lesson

  • Donald Trump, president of the United States
  • The president
  • Mr. President
  • President Donald Trump

 

Advertisements

The Thing Is Is

In a Tuesday news conference, Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama responded to comments made by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, on Monday. Wright had said, among other things, “Based on [the] Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything,” including introducing the AIDS virus into the black community as a form of genocide.

Senator Obama’s reaction: “All it was was a bunch of rants that aren’t grounded in truth.”

Why would a well-educated, manifestly articulate public figure such as Barack Obama use the clumsy phrase “All it was was…”?

All it was was is a cousin to the common construction the thing is is. How troublesome such word combinations must be to nonnative English-speakers who are trying to learn the language.

Here’s the thing: The little groupings the thing is and all it was have become, essentially, familiar noun phrases—roughly synonymous with “the crux of the matter” or “what it boils down to.”  So familiar are these colloquialisms that they are easily processed by American minds, as follows:

SUBJECT: All it was
VERB: was
SUBJECT COMPLEMENT (or PREDICATE NOMINATIVE): a bunch of rants….

Senator Obama might better have said, “What it amounted to was a bunch of rants that aren’t grounded in truth.” But speaking under duress and off the cuff, any of us might have used the less graceful syntax.

In fact, in Senator Obama’s position, I, the Writing Queen, might have used less felicitous language, along the lines of, “All it was was a noisome mass of bovine fecal matter.” Or words to that effect.

  • Got a question about grammar, syntax, or bovine fecal matter? Please leave a comment.
  • Purge your writing of bovine fecal matter. See Write Better Right Now at www.LifeIsPoetry.net.