Monday, January 05, 2009

A Scratch in the Silver Tongue?

I've never been an admirer of our current president in terms of how he talks - or in terms of anything really. He's a mess of grammatical blunders and slips of the tongue. There's already been enough said and written about him and his father and what dolts they both sound like. What bothers me most is that he (the younger) doesn't hear it or seem to mind that he sounds stupid. It's not the sloppiness that bothers me, but the blatant disregard that bites my proverbial ass.

We will soon have the silver tongued president. Like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama is smart and talks like it. I think it's a good thing for the country. We need a new face and voice to re-enter the world. But my main concern is that it's good for my ears. I like hearing smart people talk.

However, I've noticed something that he does that stops me when I hear it. And I've never heard anyone else talk or write about it. Are people unaware of it, or do they just not want to bring it to people's attention? We do have a liberal media, after all, that will bend over backwards to do what it can to support a Democratic president, dont' we? (sarcasm intended) So maybe there's a keeping this little (and it is little) blip hidden so as to hide any flaws that Mr. Obama has. OR maybe it's just that no one has heard it. It doesn't happen that often.

It's one of those things that I hear - possibly - because I teach English. I hear a lot of sloppy/bad English spoke every day - from students and non-students. A large part of my job is reminding people of the rule or explaining rules that people have mis- (or over-) interpreted.

What's this thing I keep hearing? Here's an example:

"We are inheriting a enormous budget deficit." (This was on Meet the Press, 7 December 2008.)

Are you still wondering what it is?

He uses the wrong article before vowels all - or a lot of - the time. It should be "We are inheriting an enormous budget deficit." I swear. Listen to it. It's just a little thing, but it's one of those things that I've explained many times.

A lot of people have heard that you use 'a' before consonants and 'an' before vowels. You actually use 'a' before consonant sounds and 'an' before vowel sounds. For example,

A man
A horrible man
An honest man (ah-nest)

An apple
An ugly apple
A unique apple (yew-neek)

Now, Mr. Obama's misuse of 'a' has nothing to do with this, but I just thought I'd bring it up so that you can listen to it for the next four (possible eight) years. The Obama impersonator on Saturday Night Live (which I can't seem to get online any more since I live outside the US) has Obama's speech pattern down pretty good, but I haven't heard him use the wrong article. Maybe he does.

At any rate, it's fifteen days until we have a new administration. I've said it before, but I'll say it again - and I didn't even make this one up - I'm still waiting for this eight year headache to end.


Anonymous said...

"I've never been an admirer of our current president"

Really? I'd never have guessed from your even-handed comments over the years...


Anonymous said...

You and I are SO alike. I haven't noticed Obama's mess up, but then again, I don't watch near as much political television as you must, but I will pay closer attention. It is definitely one of those things that bothers me, too. The countdown has begun!! I am much more excited than I thought I would be. Love you! Kath

Anonymous said...

AH! I'm going to hear this from now on every time I hear him speak! :P

It's just like people who say "towards" which is not a word.

Anonymous said...

Of course "towards" is a word. It's in both the Oxford and Cambridge on-line dictionaries. I use it all the time*.


*well not ALL the time - that would be silly and rather monotonous for those listening...