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Congratulations, President Obama, you finally found your Presidential voice! Such a shame that it came so late.

It was a great speech-probably your best SOTU-employing powerful, statesmanlike language and stroking progressive ideals to the brink of political orgasm. Yes, it was a terrific speech; and it should be because the way things are looking, it’s likely to be your last.

This year, it’s easy to throw out a bunch of great ideas and bold initiatives, backed with powerful rhetoric; you’re talking to a congress that has already vowed to do nothing. But beyond the applause and standing O’s, past the bright Source4 spotlights and television cameras, there are legions of lamenting liberals, a plethora of pissed-off progressives, and an assload of angry Americans who are having trouble pairing the leadership in your language with the awkwardness of your administration.

For three years you’ve portrayed yourself as stumbling buffoons, unsure of your agenda. Your message has been fragmented and murky. Your communications have been guarded and timid. Your domestic policy wandering and perfunctory. We have come to expect very little from you in terms of actual leadership, and it shows in how easily Republicans have been able to effectively frame every – single – issue, successfully derailing your game plan before you’ve even left the huddle. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s been a rough dog month. Several of my friends have lost furry companions recently, one under extremely unfortunate circumstances.

Losing a loved one is difficult, no matter what the species. There is something unique about the love and loss of a dog, however, that carries its own special sorrow. Of course, every owner’s relationship with their dog is different; but for me, the melancholy and sadness that comes with losing a dog is brought forth by the questions: did my dog know how much I loved her? Did she know how much she meant to me? Did I live up to the loyalty and love that she gave to me freely? Was I good enough to her?

The curse and blessing of the human-dog relationship is that it is not bound by language, that is to say, expressive vocal communication. Sure, dogs can learn commands and they can detect emotion in our voices (though often facial expressions are the key). But when it comes to actually communicating with our dogs, words and sentences fail us. As result, we never have Read the rest of this entry »

Note: This post is about incorrect speech. Please see the disclaimer near the top of  my first speech post here.

It was not until recently that I became aware of yet another unfortunate habit in speech that is apparently more common than I realized. It involves usage of the verb “to need” in conjunction with the past-tense form of another verb.

Rather than explain, I’ll simply illustrate with the following examples:

“The car needs fixed.”
“The laudry needs washed.”
“The shed needs built.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
I was shocked to find that many people do not hear the flaws in these sentences. Even more shocked that throughout the US, and especially in Northern England and Scotland, usage of this torturous transgression is rampant.

To emphasize the violation, let me demonstrate by replacing “need” with a verb of similar usage, “to want”:

“The child wants fed.”
“The dog wants walked.”
“My mother wants loved.”

Now do you hear it? Fortunately, I have not yet encountered this revolting use of “want” yet. May that always be true.

Just in case you still don’t see the error, let me break it down for you. Read the rest of this entry »

This is the first of what I am sure will be many posts on the mangling of our spoken language. I abhor lazy speech and seek to correct it as often as possible. If you find yourself making any of the errors I point out, don’t be embarrassed, just fix it. This may help prevent you from presenting yourself to others as an uneducated imbecile.

NOTE: I am fully aware that these types of posts will undoubtedly come across as intolerant, condescending, and perhaps even anal-retentive.  So be it.  We have definitive rules behind most of our language.  They are outlined in numerous rule books, style guides, and grammar dictionaries.  There are so few definitives in life, let us embrace the ones we have.

Of late I have noticed a disturbing tendency in the speech of popular culture.  The tendency is the pronunciation of words that begin with “str-” as though they included an “h” – thereby making the pronounced sound “shtr-“.  For example: straight, streak, stripe, stripper, stress, stroke, and strategy. Read that list again, OUT LOUD. Did you hear any “Sh” sounds at all? If you did, you’re pronouncing the words incorrectly.

Just to be clear, there isn’t any debate to be had here.  This isn’t a matter of opinion, or an issue of placing the proper emphasis on the right syllable. Nope, this one is truly a right and wrong issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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