"lady" PLUS "broken English"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 22 15:22:17 UTC 2011

Here's the CNN video/transcript/elaboration of a report yesterday on women
pilots in the Afghan National Army:


"The passion and dreams of these four women easily cuts through their broken

"2LT SOURYA SALEH: We are going to open the door for our ladies in
Afghanistan. It is a big deal for us to open the door for the others. That
the other ladies who have the dreams--that they can do it--we want to show

"These 'ladies' are lieutenants in the Afghanistan military..."

Not in the film clip is Saleh's comment, downpage,  that "It's the first
time that ladies are coming to the military and joining the air force."

First there's the presumed meaning of "broken English."  Saleh has a
noticeable accent, but , at least here, she is as fluent as an American and
easy to understand. Not at all what I'd call "broken English."

Second, the twentysomething Saleh uses "lady" as a perfectly neutral synonym
for "woman."  But the CNN reporter does not.  On air he referred to the
pilots only as "women."

I'm wondering if the subtle-to-some misuse of "lady" counts as "broken

Moreover, there's a sense clearly remains in current educated usage, that if
a woman flies a helicopter, she ain't no "lady"


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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