Category: Occasonal Blogs (page 1 of 7)

Vulgarity on Steroids

 

We have had vulgar Presidents—Nixon and Johnson come to mind—but the present President’s new communication’s director has reached a new low in crudeness to communicate to the public and rip the chief of staff. He claims it was authorized by the President and, judging from some of the President’s dialect, we can believe Scaramucci. However, it raises the question of what degree of civility and respect we should expect of a public servant. The present verbiage from the Whitehouse goes beyond “freedom of speech” and exemplifies “men without chests,” as C.S. Lewis once put it.

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Abortionists and Suicide Bombers

 

I am going to compare an abortionist with a suicide bomber. Of course, there are many differences, but the objective is the same: to kill someone. In the case of abortion, it is a small fetus—a baby—in the womb of the mother. A suicide bomber, on the other hand, has a larger target in mind: as many victims as possible in a crowded area. But in both cases, it is the innocent that suffer: the small baby, not yet fully developed, or the large crowd, destroying as much of it as possible.

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Understanding Our President

 

I am referring to our current president, Mr Donald Trump, elected in 2016 and therefore in office for four more years. During his campaign tour he regularly said things that were misunderstood, misinterpreted and, even occasionally, understood. He has continued with this ability. However, as a linguist, I have wondered: How does one analyze what he is saying?

Although words are typically simple with Trump, he claims to have a “great education”. But then everything about Trump is, in his view, “great”. Linguists note that he talks with words like  “many, many” and “very, very” and is super-duper at non sequiturs. I looked on-line to see what some analysts and interpreters were saying about his speaking style. Here are a few reflections on Trump’s messages:

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On Gender Benders

 

The January 2017 issue of National Geographic is a special one entitled “Gender Revolution.” On p. 3, Gloria Steinem is quoted as saying “I suppose getting rid of the idea of gender [is the most pressing issue today]. You know living in India was a revelation because I came to understand that there were old languages that didn’t have gender—that didn’t have “he” and “she.” The more polarized the gender roles, the more violent the society. The less polarized the gender roles, the more peaceful the society. We are each unique and individual human beings. We are linked: we are not ranked. The idea of race and the idea of gender are divisive.”

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The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good

 

First, the bad news: I was watching the program called “60 Minutes” some time ago (June 28, 2015) that outlined how fraudulent our society has become: not the occasional Ponzi scheme or politician who lies, but wholesale “identity theft”. A former master of theft, now serving time in prison, gave some examples of how easy it is to buy social security numbers that belong to individuals and turn them into bogus data that cheats the Internal Revenue Service out of billions of dollars. And, what is more, the IRS knew about it (actually, “knows” about it because it is ongoing), but handed out checks to the swindlers anyway. They didn’t have the time to check the personal records of the phony people applying for tax redemptions.

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