Reader Mail

For Your Eyes Only

More singing tongues. Plus Clark’s grand trek. Dr. Dean’s procedures. And more.

1.7.04

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LONESOME HIGHWAY
Re: Shawn Macomber's Clark's Turn:

Mr. Macomber's filings from NH have been beverage-spewing funny. I especially liked his post about Clark's ideas for a "smart" highway. Unfortunately, the only thing Clark has in common with Mr. Spock is pointy ears. And no, I'm not trying to ignite a Trekkie debate.
-- Andrew J. Macfadyen, M.D.
San Antonio, Texas

TONGUE TRIED (II)
Re: Reid Collins's Friends, Romans, Countrymen … and Reader Mail's Language Lessons:

I would add to Mr. Collins's list of journalistic mess-ups the phrase, "to hone in" on something. One can "home in" on something (i.e., track it down), or "hone" something (sharpen it), but one can't "hone in" on anything. This seems to have cropped up in the last year or two.
-- Bob Fitzgibbon
Rome, New York

I disagree. To say "I Only Have Eyes For You," to mean I alone have eyes for you, would equally be allowed only by poetic license. Better would be, "Only I have eyes for you." When I tell my wife or mistress, "I only have eyes for you," she correctly takes my meaning to be that my other bodily organs all are otherwise engaged.
-- John Cortens
Canada

If I may be so bold as to propose a few additions to Mr. Collins's "spot on" column: Co-conspirator; Someone taking part in a conspiracy is a conspirator. What exactly is a co-conspirator? Do the news anchors think that by adding an extra syllable they sound more intelligent?

The "gate" suffix; We haven't heard this offender in a little while (Enrongate was especially galling) but it is only a matter of time in an election year before we have Iraq-gate, Halliburton-gate, or your-name-here-gate. What if the famous hotel/apartment complex had merely been known as 2600 Virginia Ave?

Irregardless; Overuse of a term does not make it correct, people! My wife has made it clear she no longer wishes to be the recipient of my verbal broadsides in defense of the English language, so I am forced to hold my tongue. At least I know I'm not the only one.
-- Joel D
Grand Rapids, Michigan

I would like to contribute another item to Reid Collins' litany of the erosion of English: the apparently irreversible use of "everyday" when basic grammar and common sense both call for "every day." The one-word form has an honorable and proper purpose as an adjective meaning "common" or "ordinary," but it is clearly misplaced when the time phrase meaning "daily" is meant. Thanks to the ad agencies of America for this one...

But let's not let the barbarians advance much further (or is it farther?)!
-- Dave Williams

In regards to Ms. Evelyn Leinbach regrets over creating a monster by teaching her husband that "loan" is a noun. There is no need for her husband to yell at the television anymore; unfortunately there never was. I regret to inform her that it is both a noun and verb. M-w.com has an interesting account of the development of its use and asserts, "Although a surprising number of critics still voice objections, loan is entirely standard as a verb."
-- Tom Reynolds
Wharton, New Jersey

CONTRACT DOCTOR
Re: George Neumayr's Dr. Dean and Abortion:

Thank you for publishing the piece on the disgusting abortion-loving Howard Dean. To paraphrase our former Surgeon General, if only the Democrats could get over their love affair with dead fetuses....

I hope Dean is aware of what committed forces will be arrayed against him, should he continue to press his suit.
-- Jessica O'Connor

Thank you for this article. I have been saying the same thing as your article, but I have been doing it from memory. Planned Parenthood says that at the time Dean was with them, they only performed abortions at their Rutland clinic; however, I was active in Right to Life at the time and we knew they did them also at the Burlington clinic. Dean as a contract doctor to them would more than likely have performed abortions even if he had to travel to their Rutland clinic. Also, as part of his internship, he would have performed abortions under a doctor's direction at the hospital. Dean is too pro-abortion not to have performed one, period. Dean has built his entire political career on lies and innuendo.
-- Pete Chagnon

Re: Your hatchet job on Dean. I like abortion. And I love Howard Dean! Though, as a left-winger myself, I consider him a moderate on the American political spectrum. Also, I like the Northeastern "elite" and consider myself a member of that esteemed group of people who appreciate education and culture.
-- B. Larrabee

P.S. Nice writing -- you bible-types are really starting to develop language skills.

SPANKIE AND THE GANG
Re: Lawrence Henry's Things Children (and Experts) Cannot Understand:

I just read Lawrence Henry's piece on Dr. Straus' survey and found myself nodding throughout. Straus' questioning using "psychological aggression" with children under five reminded me of a recent weekend with an old college friend whose children are almost the identical ages as ours (8, 7 and 3). After three days of seeing these "good" kids pull off stuff when their parent's backs were turned, and the incredibly difficult time they had getting their kids to do something as simple as sit down and eat lunch, we've had to duck the numerous invitations to get together since then.

What really irked me was the incessant "Connor, if you don't stop XXX, we're going to YYY" without the hint of follow through-- ever. I realized it was the kids who had the parents trained. It got so bad I finally asked (taboo of course to question another parent's approach) my pal if he had ever spanked his kids. I got some "we don't believe in that" sort of response that Dr. Straus would have been proud of.

I then revealed to him that I had--exactly once for each kid. The point is that early on, my kids understood that they can push me over the edge and there will be consequences. The threats from that point on became more, "If you don't stop XXX, you know I'm not afraid of doing YYY." I didn't read it in a book, and I didn't realize at the time how important it was, but a little "psychological aggression" goes a long way. Especially in Libya and North Korea given how the children running those countries have begun to conform!
-- William H. Stewart
Boston, Massachusetts

PLEASANT THOUGHTS
Re: John Tabin's Be Careful What You Plead For:

Regarding wishing for a Democrat. If you ever worry about a Dean presidency, take a little time and revisit his interviews with Russert or any other Sunday pundit show and relax. He is so not ready for prime time that my moderate wife rolled her eyes with every one of his amateurish statements. He won't stand the glare of even a hundred watt light shining on his pronouncements once the media reports on him in a true race with an opponent called Bush.
-- John Wilson
Chicago, Illinois

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