Mighty Red Pen

February 22, 2009

Getting down and dirty with the president

Here’s a little tidbit: “What Sentence Diagrams Reveal About President Obama” by Jason Linkins.

Something that most people—even his political opponents—agree on is that President Barack Obama is a fairly gifted orator. On those occasions when he speaks extemporaneously, he still struggles with vocalized pauses—those lengthy “Uhhmmms” and “Errrrrs”—but in general, he can compose articulate sentences and typically does fine work with a prepared speech.

But is GRAMMAR, itself, in the tank for Obama? Apparently so, and all it takes to reveal this truth is a trip back to the most hated part of your middle school education: sentence diagramming.

You think it’s going to be a nice little article about the innocent act of sentence diagramming, and then Linkins boldy takes it to a whole grammatical place that MRP has never been before:

By contrast, the diagrams of typical George W. Bush sentences are indistinguishable from Google Earth closeups of small rodents, drowned in mud puddles. But watch out, Obamaphiles! Obama’s grammatical structure reveals terrible, dark secrets as well! For starters, he uses “copulative predicates”—literally some sort of terrible word-sodomy!

You may already be familiar with copulative predicates (you dirty word nerd, you), but if not, you can check it out here (and be sure to shield the children. It’s not pretty).

Hat tip to David.


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