Ian Bicking: the old part of his blog

Dark Side of Grammar

I was just reading Ned Batchelder's comments on a grammar quiz, and I was reminded of an article I had just read, So George, how do you feel about your mom and dad? (from the Guardian, though I read it in Adbusters)

Soon after arriving [at Andover, a boarding school?] he was asked to write an essay on a soul-stirring experience in his life to date; he chose the death of his sister. his mother had drilled into him that it was wrong when writing to repeat words already used. Having employed "tears" once in the essay, he sought a substitute from a thesaurus and wrote "the lacerates ran down my cheeks." The essay received a failing grade, accompanied by comments like "disgraceful."

This incident may be an insight into Bush's strange tendency to find the wrong words in making public pronouncements. (He once famously declared that critics of his intellect had "misunderestimated" him.) Perhaps these verbal faux-pas are a barely unconscious way of winding up his bullying mother and waving two middle fingers at his cultured father's sensibility.

The article then continues to dissect W. psychologically, which is a much more disturbing portrait than merely W. as a buffoon. I feel there's some message in this, maybe don't correct your child's grammar or you may create a monster, though obviously that's a small part of the whole picture.

Created 15 Apr '04
Modified 14 Dec '04


Yep, I agree! Now tell your grandmother that that.

# Mom