Language Bulletin and inauguration notes
Professor Polistra has noted a brand-new speech affectation.
Ita soundsa somethinga like a stereotypicala Italiana accenta, or perhapsa like Lawrencea Welka. Professora P thinksa this one started at CNN with Wolfa Blitzera, which is somewhata unusuala since mosta language peculiaritiesa start at Foxa Newsa. Unfortunately thisa one is spreadinga with amazing speeda to other networksa and evena to locala newscastersa.
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Later: CNN's pre-inauguration and inauguration coverage is grossly annoying. They have said at least 936 times that a peaceful transition of power happens "only in America", which is wildly and ferociously untrue; and they've said at least 37,321 times that it's miraculous to see a black man as President since only 150 years ago a black man was "worth only 3/5 of a person", which is also wildly untrue. For CNN, absolutely everything
is seen through the prism of race, everything reminds them of Bull Connor, Selma, Comrade King. It's like the old Rohrschach joke.
If you want to come closer to a valid "only in America" comment, how about the fact that Obama's father
came from a country where slavery is still
practiced actively. By moving to a Christian country that abolished slavery a long time ago, Barack Sr insured that his son would have the opportunity to succeed and lead. Barack Senior's children in Kenya are still living in base poverty.
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Later still: the musical bits of the inauguration were atrocious. Aretha Franklin was supposed to sing 'My Country Tis of Thee', but instead suffered some kind of Tourette seizure, repeating words over and over without any melody or rhythm. The John Williams piece was performed well, but it was an unnecessary and derivative composition. If you want to use a formal piece based on 'Simple Gifts', Aaron Copland already did the job beautifully in Appalachian Spring
. Unfortunately the tepid Williams copy of Copland only serves to illustrate the complete bankruptcy of classical music in modern America.
Obama redeemed the whole thing with a PERFECT and classical speech. I might disagree with some of the agenda points, but the spirit and soul of the speech were better than any of FDR's speeches, nearly up to Churchill's best.
Polistra detects a flavor of Louis L'Amour in the speech: "Rather, it has been the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom." ... and ... "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy."
No American politician has ever defined the basis of Western civilization so completely and correctly.
Unfortunately an alleged female "poet" then ruined the show with her pedestrian and clumsy prose. "The figuring it out at kitchen tables?" Shit.
Labels: Language update