More Presidential Campaign Usage Policing


This from CNN:

“After Hillary Clinton’s controversy over her private email use, running mate Tim Kaine told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that the two would be ‘real transparent’ in the White House. ‘She said it was a mistake,’ Kaine said. ‘I am not presumptuous enough to start thinking about how I’m going to do things after November. But I know that this is something that she’s learned from, and we’re going to be real transparent, absolutely.’”


6 thoughts on “More Presidential Campaign Usage Policing

  1. I see no difficulty with this. In real transparent the speaker is right clearly using real in the sense of ‘very’ and not in the sense of ‘truly’. That’s a usage extremely common in ordinary American English and minor dialectal and idiolectal variations hardly disqualify somebody from being Vice President of the United States.

    • It is a common usage in American speech, but it is nonetheless a usage error. “Very” is correct, and even “really” would be preferable since it is, like “very,” an adverb.

      Since I linked to some television clips that mocked Trump for a usage error, I suppose that I was simply trying to be non-partisan.

      Nowhere did I suggest that this is in any sense a disqualifying lapse in correctness.

      I am certain that I will make–have made–equally conspicuous or even more conspicuous grammar and usage errors in my posts to this blog. (I recall one typo in a post made early on a Saturday morning that was extremely unfortunate but that was caught by a reader before many others saw it.) So, I am not pretending to be some sort of standard against which others ought to be measured.

      I am an English professor, and among English professors, this is the sort of thing that passes as fun.

      • And I’m a Linguistics professor and think that claims about what is “correct” ought be based on empirical evidence. If it’s common usage and consistent, on what basis is it claimed to be “incorrect” and an “error”? I too find it fun to observe dialectal and idiolectal differences, but I don’t “police” them.

        Of course people, me included, make typographical errors, and in a hurry may confound their, there, they’re [all three homophonous], or in a long sentence forget by the time we get to the verb whether the subject was singular or plural. But when people consistently use a certain pattern, it’s a part and product of their grammar and may be different from the preferred pattern of, say littoral literati, but that doesn’t make it “wrong” or “incorrect”.

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