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Daily Archives: June 4, 2011

Listen up, Chris Matthews: Palin knows more than you do!

In your show on the evening of Friday, June 3, 2011 you covered Sarah Palin’s visit to Boston. You skewered her when she said that Paul Revere rode his horse through the towns to warn the people that the British were coming, and you said that Palin knows nothing. You said that the warning was one if by land and two if by sea, and that everybody knows that.

That phrase was not a warning—it was merely a signal to Paul Revere, as immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem Paul Revere’s Ride. Click here for the poem and Wikipedia’s discussion. And Chris, for your enlightenment the first two verses of the poem are as follows:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hand a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal light,
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

So there, Chris Matthews—that one if by land, and two if by sea was merely a signal to Paul Revere to jump on his horse and spread the alarm through every Middlesex village and farm, and here it needs to be pointed out that Palin used the term town as opposed to the term village, but in my unlearned opinion the two terms are interchangeable. In summary, Palin was right and you were wrong. And now to wrap this one up, although I do not enjoy repeating myself, I will repeat myself:

Nanny, nanny, boo-boo, Palin knows more than you do!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Postscript: I would be remiss if I failed to insert at least a smidgen of humor into this posting. Many years ago, far back in the mist-shrouded years of my boyhood in the past century, a popular corruption of Paul Revere’s Ride was told and retold by me and by my fellow elementary students:

Listen, my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
He jumped in his car and stepped on the gas,
And the floorboard flew up and busted his donkey.

In case you haven’t noticed, please note that the final word in the ditty above, namely the word donkey, obviously does not rhyme with gas—it is a harmless synonym used in an effort to remain in compliance with the language limitations favored by WordPress.

 
 

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Listen up, Rachel Maddow—learn your possessives!

I voluntarily submitted myself to the excruciating torture of watching your show yesterday, June 3, 2011 and during your coverage of John Edwards’ current trials and tribulations I started counting the times you mispronounced John Edwards’ name. When you needed to show possession, without a single exception you pronounced his name as Edwardses, and somewhere around twenty I stopped counting, primarily because I ran out of fingers and toes.

Please note that I did not use an apostrophe in the word Edwardses in that last sentence—it’s impossible for a listener to detect the presence or the absence of an apostrophe in such usage. It may or may not have been present in the mind-numbing number of times you voiced it. With an apostrophe the word Edwards’es, or Edwards’s, is a violation of English usage—without an apostrophe Edwardses is a good word, forming the plural of the Edwards family, as in The Edwardses embarked on a family vacation aboard the Queen Elizabeth—I refer to the ocean liner, of course, not to the current royal monarch.

And no, in answer to the question that is probably forming in your mind one would not, or at least should not, identify the entire family as the Edwardss—the plural requires the es—that’s what makes it plural. Got it?

The es added to Edwards tells us that the whole famn damily went on vacation aboard the QE2. Based on that example, I would hazard a guess that each time you used the term it would be spelled thusly—Edwards’es—but I could be wrong. Words that end in an s are made possessive by the addition of an apostrophe only, not by an apostrophe and s, nor by the addition of an apostrophe and es.

Jumping Jehosaphat, Rachel! Even Sarah Palin knows that! If you were reading a teleprompter last night, I suggest that you fire the worker that compiled it, and if you were winging it I urge you to enroll in English 101—both you and your viewers will profit.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

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