• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Figure of Speech

In an interview reported by the U.K. Guardian, Hilarity Clinton admitted that she "wrestles with running" before adding, "But I'm both a pragmatist and realistic. I think I have a pretty good idea of the political and governmental challenges that are facing our leaders..."


"Both,  a. or pron. [OE. bothe, bae, fr. Icel. bāir; akin to Dan. baade, Sw. båda, Goth. bajs, OHG. beid, bd, G. & D. beide, also AS. begen, bā, b, Goth. bai, and Gr. , L. ambo, Lith. abà, OSlav. oba, Skr. ubha. &root; 310. Cf. Amb-.] The one and the other; the two; the pair, without exception of either.  ....   Both, as adj.:  Two, considered as distinct from others or by themselves; the one and the other.   This word is often placed before the nouns with which it is connected."

Does Clinton really think this way?  When used as an adjective, "both" presupposes a difference of kind or degree in the substantives it connects.  As in,

To judge both quick and dead.  (Milton.)
A masterpiece both for argument and style. (Goldsmith.)
To whom bothe heven and erthe and see is sene.  (Chaucer.)
He prayeth well who loveth well Both man and bird and beast. (Coleridge.)

If Clinton had wanted to emphasize with surplus redundancy that she was a hard-nosed, tough-as-nails, realistic, pragmatist she ought to have omitted the "both". Otherwise she is "dis-confusing" two things which are basically the same.  That does not bespeak a well-ordered mind.

In the interview, Clinton followed up with:

"I will just continue to weigh what the factors are that would influence me making a decision one way or another."


"The election is more than three years away and I just don't think it's good for the country."

Well... both for ill or good she at least has three years to decide what factors will guide her decision.

Political speech in the U.S. resembles a disordered mosaic of rough-cut, verbal chips which increasingly disconnect from one another and fail to reflect any cohering image or concept.   The vocalisations of our ruling class (oh grief!)  are incompetent to enable "decisions about the just and the unjust or the expedient and the inexpedient." (Arist. Politics, Bk I.)