Grammar Girl's "needs done" survey

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 8 12:19:53 UTC 2011

All politics aside: this woman is a jackass.

She might just as stupidly have said he was "channeling" Martin Luther King,
very possibly the top American orator of the twentieth century. But that
would have "sent the wrong message," wouldn't it?  (Note too the expanded
sense of "channel," formerly associated only with spirit mediums yakking in
the voices of the dead.)

Naive Q: Is it OK (i.e., even thinkable)  for a white politician to adapt
MLK cadences?  What if he/she were a Republican? Says who?


On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 3:42 AM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Grammar Girl's "needs done" survey
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> IIRC, Powell's family roots are Jamaican--in fact, his parents were
> Jamaican
> immigrants who moved to Harlem, then to South Bronx--at least in part to
> escape the local culture. Powell's entire career has been built on
> answering
> *white* superiors, all the way from My Lai (actually, he was already a
> major
> by then) to the Cabinet. But Wiki says something else--he had learned
> Yiddish while working at a store (in high school) and he graduated from
> CCNY, so in his formative years he appears to have been mostly surrounded
> by
> NYC Jews. In this context, lack of Ivy education is irrelevant.
> The reality is that Obama's "folksiness" only comes out in some speeches
> and
> not others and appears (to me, at least) to be an example of code
> switching--something that Bill Clinton was far more adapt at, but Obama
> certainly does not shy away from. If he is a fluent AAVE practitioner, he
> would have had to pick it up largely after law school. His political career
> may well have dependent on his mastering of AAVE while in Chicago (or, at
> least, the right cadence), while Powell did not have a political career at
> all, as he never ran for office. That alone may explain the difference.
> And here is another one, if you want to see an idiot's take on the issue
> (by
> a person who probably has the most annoying speaking voice for TV and radio
> and can't tell accent from dialect from simple cadence):
> VS-)
> On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 2:18 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
> > ...
> > BTW, you've no doubt noticed that Obama talks a lot less white than
> > Colin Powell does. Of course, Powell doesn't have the advantage of an
> > Ivy League background, probably has to go all the way back to old
> > master in order to find any purely-European ancestry and is most
> > definitely, by his own admission an Affirmative-Action baby. Hence, he
> > probably feels much greater preaaure not to come off sounding like
> > some random, ignorant-assed nigger in front of the white folk.
> > ...
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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