October 08, 2007

A President for the People

Before I leave behind George W. Bush's solecisms in favor of the above, more felicitous observation by the immortal Mark Twain, perhaps it would be wise to reflect on the President's recent grammatical atrocity and its implications for America's immediate future. It's my URL and I'll bloog if I want to. To wit, the President of the United States of America recently observed that "childrens do learn" as one of his evaluations of the success of No Child Left Behind, his signature contribution to American education.

First, I didn't think there was much controversy about this phenomenon. Human childrens, along with most higher chordates, do learn things as they...live. I guess that's the process involved, and it reflects on the level of generalization at which GWB ordinarily operates. Bush has a way of announcing things that are so trivially obvious in such grandiose ways that you lose sight of the idea that he's really saying things like "humans do breathe," or "grass does grow." I guess he's learned to operate within his own safety zone of competence, having come a cropper so many times when he's attempted to venture into the realm of abstract reasoning. He's been reduced to pronouncing on tautological verities that can neither be refuted nor...used for any constructive purpose.

It was suggested during the 2000 campaign that Bush might be dyslexic and that this disability offered an explanation for his linguistic howlers. However, when I pair up his "Is our children learning?," his penetrating inquiry into the state of American education during his first presidential campaign, with his later observation that "childrens do learn," a more unsettling inference seems to arise. Bush does not understand that "children" is a plural noun, like "men," "women" or "oxen." I will credit him with perfect parallelism -- the third-person singular verb "is" matches children, if you believe that "children" is a singular noun, and he demonstrates his consistency when he reveals that "childrens" do learn. "Do," as the third-person plural form of the infinitive verb "to do," again pairs up nicely with the new plural form of "child," "childrens," which Bush has constructed on the basis of his belief that "children" is a singular noun. Other sample sentences which we might hear in the future from Bush would include, in other words, such specimens as: 1. A children born into a family is a blessing. 2. One of the things we've got to do in America is to make sure our childrens have the same opportunity that I had when I was a children. 3. I travel around this great country and when I see a children in need, I ask, does this children have the tools he needs to succeed as a children from other generations has, and then what about his childrens?

I would yield in my analysis to a neuroscientist grounded in linguistic disability, of course, but this doesn't really sound like dyslexia to me. It sounds like a really stupid person talking. I don't know if Bush has ever been elected, actually, but it's pretty obvious that on two occasions four years apart, he drew so many votes that he got the horse shoe close enough to the stake to be declared the winner. Our childrens, and our childrenses's childrens, should be wary of that datum in planning their futures.

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