victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 18 19:13:22 UTC 2010

It's hard to escape last nights news of the flub in Connecticut, where
Richard Blumenthal got caught exaggerating his service record. Or did
he? There are three levels of claims, most appearing in the NYT, but
also piled on by FNC. 1) On exactly one occasion, Blumenthal stated
commented on "when he served in Vietnam"; 2) on several occasions one
may deduce that he implied that he served in Vietnam, although he did
not actually say it; 3) on one occasion he specifically stated "when
we came back", which can be generally taken as "when we came back from
Vietnam". Blumenthal's defense is that he misspoke. This apology, of
course, applies directly to (1). I am sure this is not relevant to the
political issue--or to FNC--but Blumental's defense on that point
hinges on whether it was /at any point/ common (particularly in the
Northeast) to refer to military service during the late 1960s and
early 1970s as "serving in Vietnam" rather than "serving in/during the
Vietnam War". I don't know it is true or not that such references were
at any point common. Perhaps someone who is more familiar with this
issue can enlighten me (and scores of journos). On the other hand, the
perception of (2) and (3) is entirely colored by the color of the
glasses one wears when looking at the remarks. Certainly, when one is
predisposed to see a fib, it's easy to recognize it as such. However,
this is hardly sufficient. When one is predisposed against
"constructivism", any appearance of geometric constructions or legal
constructs or constructive criticism will be viewed as incursions of
"constructivism". When one is predisposed against "socialism", every
mention of "society" or "social" or "welfare" will sound like
"socialism". The same could be said about "imperialism",
"environmentalism", "Big Business", etc. So I am more skeptical of
anything being made out of (2) and (3).

As to (1), what say the linguists?


The American Dialect Society -

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