Saturday, October 04, 2008

Worst. Criticism. Ever.

I usually don't post about politics on this blog. Oh, I've got plenty of political opinions-- I just don't foist them on people who read my blog. But I just couldn't resist posting this because it's so absurd.
There are plenty of people out there—not only English teachers but also amateur language buffs like me—who believe that diagramming a sentence provides insight into the mind of its perpetrator. The more the diagram is forced to wander around the page, loop back on itself, and generally stretch its capabilities, the more it reveals that the mind that created the sentence is either a richly educated one—with a Proustian grasp of language that pushes the limits of expression—or such an impoverished one that it can produce only hot air, baloney, and twaddle.

I found myself considering this paradox once again when confronted with the sentences of Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee.
Yes, because the single most important thing in a candidate for national office is whether or not they speak in perfectly diagrammable sentences. But I guess when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I do wonder, though, if she bothered to diagram the sentences of anyone other than Palin, or Palin's sentences when not speaking extemporaneously. It seems to me that spoken English, especially in an interview format as opposed to a formal speech, produces disjointed, wandering sentences by its very nature.

Honestly though, if she's got time to diagram the candidates' sentences, there's plenty of real work to do over here at the hermitage.