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In re Say What You Mean
In a throwaway one-line post yesterday afternoon, I used the expression “the damn thing,” as in, “I created the whole damn thing because I was hoping we ‘d have grammar and vocabulary debates.”
I was referring to Power Line Forum, the booming nexus for live and interactive political commentary, which I had developed along with Peter Flaschner and John Hinderaker. A fun little thread about grammar—specifically, a debate over the use of the word “presently”—popped up at the forum, of which I made note here on Dartblog. But my note, deliciously enough, contained its own grammatical error. A reader writes:
I can’t suppress my desire to correct the grammar in your “say what you mean” post. I believe that “damn” is a verb, and that you meant to say you had created the whole “damned” thing.
Of course, one clever reply would be “frankly, my dear …,” as that would serve to illustrate the fact that “curse” words, base as they are, do not always follow rules of grammar (in Rhett’s case, “damn” was apparently a noun). [And should have been ‘damnation’. -jm] This principle is perhaps best exemplified by the well-worn phrase “f - - k you,” which, as far as I can tell, defies grammatical analysis. (I’m pretty sure, e.g., that the first word in that phrase is not a transitive verb, and it doesn’t really seem to be an imperative, either.)
Still, I can’t help but think that where rules of grammar can reasonably be applied, they should be. Thus, in my opinion, the word “damn” cannot be used as an adjective while “damned” is readily at hand.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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