Browsing the NYT Archives

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 5 07:30:51 UTC 2014

REPRESENT: to do something well. ''Michael Jordan represents on the
basketball court.''

No, it does not. It means much more than that. It means "to represent." It
means to represent in the sense of presenting oneself to the relevant
subset of the outside world in a manner that will bring honor, glory,
prestige, and respect to someone or to something that you care deeply
about, whether it be yourself, your family, your 'hood, your school, your
city, your state, your team, Black America, or the entire United States of
 America. Needless to say, in his glory days, Michael Jordan did all of
this on the basket ball court. All athletes do their things well. But only
some of them "represent" in the relevant sense. Tiger Woods once
represented, but he has long since "done fell off."

It takes only a trivial amount of thought to see that the NYT definition is
utter nonsense. When a rapper raps., "I represents my city," he can't
*possibly* mean, "I perform my city well."

Back in '78, as he was preparing to fight Saint Louis's own Leon Spinks,
Muhammad Ali sneered that Spinks was "too ugly to represent the colored
people." Clearly, he wasn't saying that Spinks was too ugly to perform the
colored people well.

BTW, to see what motivated this insulting but, sadly, accurate observation,
google-image "leon spinks teeth." Brother Leon really did look as though
he'd been hit is face with the "Ugly" stick or had been in a stick fight
and everybody had a stick but him.

As for the quote, the sole Google cite contains total bullshit.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list