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How’s it Hanging?

Thursday, 5 June 2008

It is just so hard to be me sometimes…

So there I was — chugging away on the treadmill at the gym. (yes, FrumeSarah is back on the exercise wagon — a story for another day.) The top news story nearly brought me to a sudden, and very dangerous, halt.

“I can’t vote for this guy,” I thought. Political leanings aside, I could never possibly vote for a candidate whose slogan commits such an egregious grammatical error.

The problem? A sad, stranded preposition. Just left there all alone at the end of the sentence. A cursory knowledge of Latin should solve the glaring problem. Sentences NEVER end with a preposition in Latin. Makes sense given that praepositio is Latin for something that “comes before.”

A second, and more convincing argument, from Ben Yagoda in his AWESOME book, When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It. (Read here for some other thoughts from Ben Yagoda and how they work into Jewish theology!)

…whenever possible, sentences should end strongly — and prepositions, as necessary as they undeniably are, are usually more of a whimper than a bang.

So true.

How would FrumeSarah write the slogan?

A Leader in Whom We Can Believe.

See, isn’t that much stronger?

What to do?? Why vote Democratic, of course.

Just one small problem…

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Keara permalink
    Thursday, 5 June 2008 7:29 pm

    hahahaha I’m glad we share the same affinity for grammar.

  2. Thursday, 5 June 2008 8:00 pm

    so what’s a grammar girl to do? (this is, btw, why we are kindred spirits)

  3. Thursday, 5 June 2008 9:46 pm

    Your bad!

  4. Friday, 6 June 2008 9:53 am

    You should probably run spell check before complaining about his grammar!!! 🙂

  5. Friday, 6 June 2008 11:28 am

    OK, I’m a grammar freak, too, but they’re trying to appeal to people with a conversational slogan… I think to say “in whom we can believe” would be offputting or sound stilted.

    I don’t believe at all that they should campaign to the lowest common denominator, but they have a huge challenge to ensure their messages are appealing and can reach/touch a tremendously diverse contingent of voters…

    But I’m not sure I could overlook spelling errors on campaign posters! I guess that’s where I draw the line. 🙂

  6. Frume Sarah permalink
    Friday, 6 June 2008 12:40 pm

    Nosher — thanks…although what might the Talmud say about a public correction??

    Jami — I have heard it said that such word placement sounds stilted. However, it certainly depends on who is doing the listening. I don’t find it stilted and find poor grammar distracting. Conversational shouldn’t need to use incorrect structure in order to appeal to the masses.

  7. Friday, 6 June 2008 10:08 pm

    I think in an impassioned speech, that kind of formality would be perfect. In colloquial speech, I don’t find the grammatical error that distracting. Like I said, I don’t think the candidates should pander to a 5th grade reading level, but at the same time, their goal is to be broadly appealing and approachable. More casual speech, which in this case is intended to be catchy and soundbite-y, could effect the desired emotional response to the slogan.

    But believe me – this aside, poor grammar usually gives me heartburn!

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