Sunday, June 18, 2006

Confused Words from a Living Temple

The above title is taken from Les fleurs du mal (1857), by the French poet and critic, Charles Baudelaire. He wrote:

Nature is a temple, where, from living pillars, confused words are sometimes allowed to escape.

Although I very much doubt that Baudelaire had the American Presidency in mind when he wrote those words, they do strike a certain chord today. By contrast, Shaw and Wilde certainly had the American people in mind when they said:

England and America are two countries divided by a common language.
Attributed to George Bernard Shaw

We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.
Oscar Wilde The Canterville Ghost (1887)

The above quotations sum up that which continues to be very evident in our two societies today. Unfortunately for America, their current President has done nothing to improve our view that Americans have a poor grasp of the English language. The following quotes were sent to me by email. They have all been attributed to George W Bush:

The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.

If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.

One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared’.

I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.

The future will be better tomorrow.

We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.

I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.

We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe.

Public speaking is very easy.

A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.

We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.

For NASA, space is still a high priority.

Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.

It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.

It's time for the human race to enter the solar system.

As the writer of the original email commented, ‘God help America!’

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