War of Words
That Katie Couric couldn’t pronounce Wasilla while preparing for an August 29, 2008 broadcast as seen in this “raw” “leaked” video is EXPLOSIVE breaking news over at Conservatives 4 Palin. And Couric’s question, during a read-through of Sarah Pallin’s kids names — Track and Trig, “where the hell do they get these [names]?…” — is proof of a “disdainful and contemptuous” Couric mocking Palin.
C4P says it posted the clip to “expose this sickness at the heart of our corrupt and biased mainstream media.” A less inflammatory alternative view is that, in that aftermath of refudiategate, they’ve successfully exposed Couric trying to be sure she pronounces the name of “one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and the fifth largest city in Alaska,” Wasilla, correctly.
All this on the day after Fresh Air linguist Geoff Nunberg’s latest defense of Palin on the language front. Nunberg notes that “inarticulateness doesn’t preclude political competence” and calls for an end to this blustery war of words:
Take the way the logotariat reacted to Palin’s use of verbage in place of verbiage during the 2008 campaign. It’s a very common error, and in its way a logical one. The i in verbiage doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think, as most people do, that the word is related to verb and verbal. It actually comes from the same root as warble. But in The New Yorker, James Wood took verbage as Palin’s own invention and called it a perfect example of the Republicans’ disdain for words. Verbage so close to garbage, so far from language.
Where do you begin with that? With a remarkable condescension of garbage so close to trash? Or were the insolence of imagining that faulty usage betrays stupidity and turpitude? One way or the other, it’s a form of smugness that transcends partisan lines. People on the right are just as quick to ridicule Obama and Biden for their mistakes.
Yet the well-spoken aren’t necessarily wiser or better than the rest of us. Most of the horrors that the human race has had to endure in modern times were inflicted at the bidding of men who spoke in shapely grammatical sentences. Unfortunately, eloquence doesn’t come next to godliness. A devotion to language will have to be its own reward. Could we just celebrate that?
Nunberg catalogs his earlier defense of Palin “against the de-haut-en-bushwah… condescension of her critics” here.