Mark Twain famously wrote in What Stumped the Bluejays:
You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does - but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you'll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw. Ignorant people think it's the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain't so; it's the sickening grammar they use.
This passage came to mind after we read Walter O. Jones' letter to the editor of the St. Peter Herald, Politico grammar watch - State Capitol:
Politico-grammar Watch - State Capitol – Jan. 19 – Jan. 26, 2015: “…and we can’t measure that criteria…” – Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (the word that should be changed to those, because criteria is plural.). “And it is confusing to you and I.” – Rep. Denny McNamara (to you and me). “…that data is collected, that data is collected…” – Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen. (The word data is plural and should have a plural verb). “…that has these kind of increases.” – Rep. Jim Knoblach (kinds not kind).
The House has high levels of acidic partisanship and uncivil discourse. Leading contributors to these are Rep. Greg Davids because of his sarcasm and because of his brow-beating of testifiers; Rep. Rod Hamilton because of his brow-beating of testifiers; Rep. Tony Albright because he, as chairman, allowed it; Rep. Denny McNamara because of his frequent diatribes of angry indignation over perceived wrongs from across the aisle.
What a relief it was to watch Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) chair the House Education Finance Committee and Rep. Tara Mack (R-Apple Valley) in the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee today.
Unlike the chairs mentioned in Jones' second paragraph, Loon and Mack treated all those involved in the process with respect; the latter hearing covered bills aimed at restricting abortion, but the sharp division of opinion never prompted malice on Mack's part (we fall on the other side of the issue from her). Even a fairly sharp exchange at the end of the hearing between Rochester DFL Rep. Tina Liebling and Mack didn't descend into personal attacks.
Photo: A famous English cat fight. Even with posh accents, we suspect it sounded awful.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.