Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Language

Two unrelated notes on language today.

First from The New York Times.

The Matron always reads Sunday's Vows with her morning oatmeal (okay - let's pause and consider oatmeal for a moment. This isn't just any oatmeal,people. You put in a handful of organic blueberries, a dollop of peanut butter and raisins -- now you're getting the picture).

But this Sunday's column on Laura Straus and John Alexander gave the Matron pause. In the midst of a long article on the couple--how they met and courted and wed - came this:

"Mr. Alexander . . . told of the trauma of having left his wife and family in June 2005."

The phrasing makes it clear--if decorous--that Daddy was the one who did the ditching. He bailed. And in that line ''having left his wife and family," the Matron could only feel the pull of their story -- the wife and children he left behind. The children (and she's assuming that family referred to that ilk rather than a dog) never make an appearance in the paper.

Here is the Matron, toasting the happy couple? Better yet, a nod to the people he left behind. HIS trauma? Indeed.

Second really wildly unrelated and probably less popular note on language! The Matron has recently been struck by difference in tone. She is not insinuating that everyone with these views uses these phrases but she is saying she HEARS them from some.

Baby Killer ----- or abortion rights activist?

GO HOME or Deport the Criminals --- or Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Socialized medicine or government takeover of health care -- or Comprehensive Health Care Reform.

We progressives need better language!! Active verbs, people!

There. Unrelated notes on language.

16 comments:

Kizz said...

I like "pro-choice advocate".

Suburban Correspondent said...

Someone else just wrote about the first issue, the forgotten lives left in the wake of the newly consummated romance - can't remember where...

Probably the Washington Post. Her point being that often this circumstance isn't even mentioned, although it is obvious from the article that the happily betrothed couple met each other while they were both still happily married to other people. Often there is a euphemism: "It took them a long time to get together..."

Suburban Correspondent said...

One could argue that "pro-choice" is also a euphemism...Oh, and "pro-choice advocate" is redundant.

You're right, though - the Right has it all over the Left in the use of language, in my opinion. What could stick in your mind more effectively than "Death Panel"? You say, "Health Reform" and they say "Death Panel"...

Now I'm flashing back to Amy Poehler's amazing Sarah Palin rap last year on SNL - remember? "I say 'Obama,' you say 'Ayres'...Obama!" "Ayres!" "Obama!" "Ayres!"

That kills me.

I'm all over the place on this comment, aren't I? I'll sign off now.

MJ said...

Sorry, I'm stuck on putting peanut butter into oatmeal with fruit. The opposites you otherwise quote are somewhat foreign to me. Peanut butter and oatmeal is interesting....

Canada underwent the debate on socialized medicine before I was born (in the 1960s) so it is surprising to me to hear the rhetoric. We've never had the strong right that is prominent in the USA.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

You are so right; I love this post.
Oh, and BTW, "Annie" looks like she was Fabulous! Congrats on your star.

Anonymous said...

The man that left by email...

Thank you for giving a thought to the wife of 25 years, and thank you again for thinking of the children.

...and yes...there were dogs caught in the wreckage too.

Reading about the 'trauma' suffered by this 'dashing Oxford-educated Englishman in the New York Times has frankly left me vomiting copiously (please excuse the language)... what can I say...

The ex... London, England

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That is interesting...I like your perspective. I'd have thought about the family abandoned too.
I'm a "Reproductive Rights Advocate." That covers the gamut.

Anonymous said...

The woman who wrote about the frequency of new couples as a result of cheating, leaving, etc was recently featured on This American Life. I think she wrote the piece for New York Magazine, but might well be wrong.

It's amazing to me that the circumstances are even mentioned, that there's apparently no shame there.

Sarah

Minnesota Matron said...

Oh, dear ex in London! I'm sure I'm not the only woman out there rooting for you and imagining the pain of your story. Sarah - Thanks for the tip! Curious coincidence! I will try to find one or the other piece. Thank you!

6p00d8341bfaea53ef said...

I have heard that criticism of left/progressives before -- their language is limp, unlike the active and muscular and energizing vocabulary of the right. Damn, woman, get on it! We need better language!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am glad this piece found its way to the Ex. This is where I have a problem with the fact that our society has given up on the concepts of "guilt" and "shame." He should feel guilty and we should shame him.

Viktor said...

I think the thing is that it is easier to be active against something than for something. All your examples is where the active action is with the progressives.

I think that if we look at things like war and water boarding, where the progressives are for the ceasing of activities and the regressives (opposite of progressive, non?) are for more active action, you will find it easier to give good progressive labels.

Language issues aside, progressives may not win all the battles, but at least we have all the best songs.

Susan said...

Is it that the progressives are so nice? Not into attacking others? Even when it has been proven ineffective (the medial thrives on the vitriol) we just keep trying to keep it civil.

~annie said...

I don't get it. Who are those people, why are they in The NY Times and why should we care about their romance? I agree with Jenn - guilt and shame need to be brought back. Also accountability for our actions. I also agree with Victor - "no/stop" are simply more forceful and attention-grabbing than "yes/go." Lots of food for thought here.

Anonymous said...

I just thought you ladies may like to know... I received an email from the "Russian Romeo" last Sunday telling me that he was no longer going to send me my alimony cheque (effective immediately) as he is in dispute with the BANK that he works for.
He is obviously in breach of a British court order and apart from anything else he stands to be done for contempt.
The reality tho' is that this leaves me with mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay, no warning and no official proof of what he says is true (court proved him to be a liar the first time around).
I am at school full time trying to get the education that I missed out on while ironing his shirts...
I wonder what is going through his young bride's mind now _ not to mention his. The test of true love ... there must be a poem that goes with that.
I can't afford the fancy lawyers that were involved last time and am beginning to think that these court orders are not worth the paper they are written on. I am trying to get a Reciprocal Enforcement Maintenance Order issued but it is going to take 6 months by which time the 'Banking boy' will have hidden the money.

Is there no justice in the world? I got a maintenance order awarded to me fair and square in the British courts ... no use if it is not adhered to.


PS I love your blog! I have fond memories of living in Minnesota - and the good neighours and friends that supported me & made me feel so welcome there.

the ex in London who will not be able to pay her mortgage in a month!

Anonymous said...

To the ex in London: You are better off without him. From the NYT article, it was clear to me that he has nothing to be proud of -- she has taken on him. She seems untrustful, promiscuous and a trick-player. Fudge him; they will be done in a year.