Sunday, March 11, 2007

Been listening music (and other language issues)

Lately I've lost myself in, the online radio station that listens to the way you listen. It's incredibly smart. But I do wish somebody would teach these folks that prepositions are not to be feared. My profile page lists my "recently listened tracks." Recently heard yes, recently audited, recently experienced, recently enjoyed: but also recently listened to.

So there.

It amazes me that really smart people can still think it's wrong to end a sentence or a phrase with a preposition.

Netflix is another incredible phenomenon. For Tucker, based on his prior choices, it recommended All the President's Men, still a great movie, capturing the drama of the newsroom, the risks the Post took in publishing what they barely knew, as well as the risks that two daring young reporters took. Among other things, Watergate involved a frontal, Orwellian assault on the English language, when "statements" became "inoperative," when double negatives were used to soften the positive lie, when "now" and "then" were pointlessly elongated into "at this point in time" and "at that point in time." I never understood that one. Was it to make it sound more distant, more objective? Did they think a long sentence sounded more intelligent? Did it put off for half a second having to say something of substance? Whatever, it stuck.

As doublespeak continues to corrupt the discourse of politics, this 1974 essay from the National Council of Teachers of English, while calling out many of the Watergate abuses, still has good advice: schools should be teaching "the critical analysis of propaganda techniques, language manipulation, and the new media."

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