Friday, September 05, 2008

A Man With Awfully Grammar

Today's issue of RedEye (published by the Chicago Tribune) featured an Associated Press article (page 13) quoting Barack Obama as follows:

You're hearing an awfully lot about me --- most of which is not true --- but you're not hearing a lot about you.
I don't blame Barack Obama for wanting voters to focus on themselves rather than focusing on him. If they focused on him, they might ask themselves how it was that a Harvard graduate didn't know the difference between an adverb (awfully) and an adjective (awful).

Of course, it's no mystery to anyone who's spent much time among the African Americans living in Chicago, as I have. There are exceptions, fortunately, but far too many blacks in this city seem to be incapable of speaking without repeatedly mangling the English language. That is not a racist statement, it is simply an observation of a demonstrable fact.

Example: I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time a black cashier at Walgreens said something like, "Here be yo' change. It be fifty cent."

Apparently no one ever explained to them that plural nouns usually have the letter "s" at the end of them, or the letters "es" at the end of them in some cases. There are exceptions, such as the words "sheep" or "fish", but the plural version of the word "cent" is not one of those exceptions. Notwithstanding the fact that there's a hip hop musician who calls himself "50 Cent", the only number which should ever precede the singular noun "cent" is the singular number "one".

There are obviously other grammatical errors in the preceding quote; specifically, the use of the word "be" where the word "is" would be the correct word. (Either the folks who talk that way like to think of themselves as pirates, or else that particular use of the word "be" is the lingering residue of the popularity of Rastafarian culture during the 1980's.)

Now, no one's perfect when it comes to grammar (including myself), although some come a lot closer to perfection than others. George W. Bush has been criticized repeatedly (as was Dan Quayle before him) for his linguistic errors.

My point is not that Barack Obama is inherently unintelligent or unqualified solely on account of his linguistic imperfections. My point is that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Throughout the Bush administration, diehard liberals delighted in making fun of Bush and making it sound as if he was stupid, on account of the occasional verbal mistakes he committed. In my view, therefore, turnabout is fair play.

But don't vote against Obama because of his linguistic slip-ups. Vote against him for a legitimate reason --- such as the fact that he is the first presidential candidate in history who was so spineless and morally clueless that he refused to endorse a law which would have specifically prohibited infanticide.

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