Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Strictly Speaking. Edwin Newman. Significant Sentences 06.

Significant sentences from Edwin Newman's Strictly Speaking, blunt criticism of Americans' use of the English language.

" 'Authored': Why not, 'He playwrighted a play' ?" p. 144.

"I think it may be better to grunt unintelligibly than to use such language [as the Hampshire College 'working paper'], for it is so impersonal and manufactured as to be almost inhuman." p. 145.

"A large part of social scientific practice consists of taking clear ideas and making them opaque." p. 146.

"On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln was on the side of social scientists when he said, 'God must have loved the people of lower and middle socio-economic status, because he made such a multiplicity of them.' " p. 148. [Lincoln actually said, "Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them."]

"The answers [in sports interviews] are purely ritualistic, but nobody minds." p. 152.

" 'Putting it all together' [in sports] was identified as the key to success a few years ago, and it has swept all other explanations before it." p. 153.

"There is no way to measure the destructive effect of sports broadcasting on ordinary American English, but it must be considerable." p. 155. [To which I add Allan Iverson's, "I should have went to practice," a butchered verb tense--("I should have ran....") used by so many sports commentators that I long ago lost count. What did they teach him in those English classes that he attended at Georgetown University? RayS.]

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