Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let's demand good grammar from our leaders!

“Comments attributed to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele are very troubling, and despite his clarification today the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support in the trenches of grass-roots politics,” former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) said in a posting on his blog. “For Chairman Steele to even infer that taking a life is totally left up to the individual is not only a reversal of Republican policy and principle, but it's a violation of the most basic of human rights — the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

OK - I know that Merriam-Webster's lists as its fourth definition for "infer" as to "suggest." But the dictionary also makes the following note on usage: "At present sense 4 is found in print chiefly in letters to the editor and other informal prose, not in serious intellectual writing. The controversy over sense 4 has apparently reduced the frequency of use of sense 3."

As a teacher and an editor, I would have used my red pen on Gov. Huckabee's words. In my mind, his usage is akin to confusing allusion and illusion or flaunt and flout.

Of course, this quote is from a man who doesn't accept the validity of evolutionary theory.

6 comments:

Ani said...

Somehow I hear this in a Southern accent (like Foghorn Leghorn), and that leads me to think that using "infer" this way is a more common Southern usage. Just a voice inside my head telling me that...

Serious intellectual writing: not = to Republican blog (oh, when will Dubya start one???)

But yes, certain words and definitions that are "legal" should be banished. My pet peeve is "notorious" where one means "famous." I know the definition is there, but it has a negative color and it sounds ridiculous out of a negative context.

Eric said...

"Myself" is one of my pet peeves. People who use "myself" when they mean "me." I guess using a two-syllable word means you're more educated.

Ani said...

That's a particular tic of Obama's. There you go again, criticizing Our President...

Mark Pennington said...

Top 40 Grammar Pet Peeves
If you are grammatically challenged, or let’s face it, a grammatical snob who will catch the grammatical error in the title of this blog, you owe it to yourself to check out these grammatical pet peeves and tips at Top 40 Grammar Pet Peeves

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