Monday, October 6, 2008

Maureen Dowd on Palin's English

I love Maureen Dowd. I wish she were my personal friend. I don't always agree with her, but she entertains the hell out of me. Check out her latest column on Palin's use of English. Here is an excerpt:

Talking at the debate about how she would “positively affect the impacts” of the climate change for which she’s loath to acknowledge human culpability, she did a dizzying verbal loop-de-loop: “With the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that, as governor, I was the first governor to form a climate change subcabinet to start dealing with the impacts.” That was, miraculously, richer with content than an answer she gave Katie Couric: “You know, there are man’s activities that can be contributed to the issues that we’re dealing with now, with these impacts.”

At another point, she channeled Alicia Silverstone debating in “Clueless,” asserting, “Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet.” (Mostly the end-all.)

A political jukebox, she drowned out Biden’s specifics, offering lifestyle as substance. “In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been, you know, all our lives,” she said, making the middle class sound like it has its own ZIP code, superior to 90210 because “real” rules.

Sometimes, her sentences have a Yoda-like — “When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not” — splendor. When she was asked by Couric if she’d ever negotiated with the Russians, the governor replied that when Putin “rears his head” he is headed for Alaska. Then she uttered yet another sentence that defies diagramming: “It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there.”

Reared heads reared themselves again at the debate, when she said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “were starting to really kind of rear the head of abuse.”

She dangles gerunds, mangles prepositions, randomly exiles nouns and verbs and also — “also” is her favorite vamping word — uses verbs better left as nouns, as in, “If Americans so bless us and privilege us with the opportunity of serving them,” or how she tried to “progress the agenda.” [NY Times]

If I spoke English this badly at work, let alone wrote this way, I would soon be out of a job. But then I might qualify for Veep. Do I smell a third career? ;-)