Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Preserving "are-" language


IN THE COMMENTS: Some object to the focus on this sign. I held back from defending it because, well, you know what they say about explaining a joke. But I'm glad that my dad responded with a cogent explanation of the humor and importance of the photo.

I'd just like to reiterate that I find the protester's sign not only funny but profoundly significant; there is a lot more that could be said about this. I certainly don't think it should be considered out of bounds to publicly criticize obscure, non-powerful individuals who have chosen to thrust themselves into the public spotlight, especially when they do so with malice toward others. The way to respect an adult is not to try to place him or her beyond intellectual scrutiny.


Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

The hyphen is a nice touch.

Ann Althouse said...

Psycou! Rumptis!

(Just the first 2 word verifications I got here.)

XWL said...

Pointing out grammatical errors in homemade signs that may or may not be the product of supporters of the viewpoint largely expressed at a particular protest, doesn't seem like the proper basis for political debate.

Few spelling errors here, does that make the folks pictured at these protests more cogent?

Jason (the commenter) said...

I agree with XWL, for some observers it's become all about the people making the arguments, not about the arguments themselves. It's sad to see this viewpoint espoused by a philosophy blog.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

The cause of the humor, and the relevance to the topic, is that the sign-writer presents him/herself as a champion of English yet shows the dimmest understanding of our language. "With friends like these..." This wouldn't be the case for a spelling error on a sign protesting, say, the nuclear arms agreement.

The spelling error shows a deep incomprehension of semantics and grammar. In order to confuse "our" with "are," you have be oblivious to the difference between a possessive adjective and an indicative verb. To do that, you have to view words as opaque, isolated, fragments of code to be memorized rather than as vital junctions in a live network of linguistic relations.

To navigate a social universe under this handicap would be like driving in a perpetual blizzard. But without having the sense to stay indoors.