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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Grammar tics of the Founding Fathers | Heidi Stevens, chicagotribune.com

Here's an amusing column, appropriate for the Fourth of July.

Stevens writes (emphasis added):
[W]e're getting a little tired of the rancor and name-calling and general ill will directed at our fellow man. We think it's time to direct it at the Founding Fathers instead.
Not that they didn't do big, important things like, you know, framing our Constitution and winning independence from England. But can we talk for a moment about their grammar?
With tongue in cheek, Stevens notes problems with the Second Amendment, random capital letters in our founding documents, and various wordy, redundant phrases.

But she warns:
Of course, there's a good chance you will start a fist fight (or worse) by dissing the Founding Fathers at your Fourth of July gathering. Particularly if your fellow attendees forget to bring their sense of humor.
So she concludes with excerpts from Word Hero: A Fiendishly Clever Guide to Crafting the Lines that Get Laughs, Go Viral, and Live Forever by Jay Heinrichs.
The ancient rhetoricians understood it well. To make language sound impressively magical, they advised, darken it. Make it a little obscure. That's because a clear meaning takes the mysticism out of sacred language.
Proper grammar works well in a memo, but not so well in Amber's ways of graying, or above the fruity plains, or in all those greats God shed for thee. None of that stuff made sense to me as a kid, and I'm a better American for it.


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