Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Expat Living: "Dictating language to so and so"

"I've seen the furniture,
and it lurks (on the horizen)."
- ad blurb written for IKEA,
while riding a train through Sweden
(Image from Wikipedia)

Today's the day that I get to be 'lazy' and just post my latest from the Korea Herald, a column written in response to a reader who didn't like my previous article there on "Mucking up the English language" and accused me of speaking like a tyrant.

I know the guy from the Milton List. He's one of those old unreconstructed Marxists from the 1950s whose readings of what I and others post on that literary listserve are similar to what you'll see below in the quote that I provide from his 'critique' of my previous column:
Dictating language to so and so

I take delight in reporting a most passionate response to my recent column, "Mucking up the English language." Fellow Milton scholar Professor C. Cox has troubled himself to quote me briefly and comment upon my words:

"Horace Jeffery Hodges (in his column) wrote: '. . . Licentiousness, regrettably, is not liberty,' which as Lincoln Steffens magnificently argued, is not just not true, it is viciously untrue. This false contrast of Licentiousness and Liberty, and not (as Milton argued) necessity [and liberty] is the true plea of the Tyrant."

Thank you, Professor Cox. I take heart in having attentive readers and appreciate the gallant corrective, but you have neglected the context, which begins: "Lest pedants once again correct me on a point that I know full well . . ."

I myself would hardly be earning my own keep as official pundit pedant if I failed to draw attention to the unorthodox capitalization of "Licentiousness," "Liberty," and "Tyrant." Professor Cox is either reverting to seventeenth-century orthographic conventions, as perchance befits a Milton scholar, or he is committing the fallacy of misplaced abstraction, perhaps reading my frivolous remark as some Grand Pronouncement.

Or possibly, in hastening to correct me, the good man has simply erred in capitalizing these three common nouns. Well, hasten slowly, sir, so as not to sow the wind, for a stitch in time saves nine, else your white canvas doublet will sully! But not too slowly, either, for indolence begets indigence. Let me word it so:
So ...

I s'pose you know
It's best to sow
Than be a lazy so and so!

Though even the lazy sow and sow
If forced to, though.
I s'pose that's so.

When I say "sow,"
I don't mean "sew"!
If I meant so,
I'd tell you "sew"!

It's just, you know,
We'd better sow
To be in dough -- don't you think so?

Although, of those who sew and sew,
I s'pose also
It's also so.
I trust that I have made myself as vehemently clear as professor Cox has made himself. Vehement, that is; not clear.

For instance, I am not quite certain what the professor means by referring to the "false contrast of Licentiousness and Liberty." By "false contrast," does he mean that licentiousness and liberty are not altogether opposite in meaning? If so, I agree, for licentiousness even derives from a Latin word for freedom: licentia. Or does he mean, instead, that licentiousness and liberty are identical in meaning, having no contrast at all? I would find that problematic, for licentiousness entails the flaunting of rules, whereas liberty covers rather a broader range of meanings, including the freedom that one gains through following rules.

Similarly puzzling in its manner of expression is the professor's larger assertion that the "false contrast of Licentiousness and Liberty . . . is the true plea of the Tyrant." In identifying a "false contrast" as a "true plea," professor Cox might appear to be asserting a contradiction, but I think that I understand his meaning. The expression "true plea of the Tyrant" should be read as "true Tyrant's plea." The professor means that I expressed myself with the voice of a genuine tyrant when I wrote these words:

"Licentiousness, regrettably, is not liberty, and trapped in this prison house of language, I reflect upon my own linguistic crime of passion and perceive that I stand guilty of the very thing for which I have accused Larkin."

Professor Cox is right. I have been tyrannical in judging myself so harshly. I deserve amnesty, and as tyrant, I hereby declare myself pardoned.

Jeffery is a professor at Kyung Hee University and can be reached through his blog Gypsy Scholar at gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com -- Ed.
Well, judge for yourself my putative tyrannical character. I expect that Professor Cox will.

Meanwhile, can someone direct me to where Lincoln Steffens argued so magnificently about licentiousness and liberty?

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At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, sough what?

No dough s,wat!


At 7:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What's that comma doin' after the "s"? It ain't high and mighty 'nuff to act like a'postrophe.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Jeffery,

This is one of those elliptical 'splanations you always accuse me of. Ever since your "profitless conversation" I've felt a bit guilty that I've not properly remunerated you for profiting me so generously.

Then comes today and your multiple takes on "so" so I added one. I didn't want to be so disingenuous as to place a "$" sign with my "sough and dough" sew I used a comma. You never know just exactly how to repay someone for their assistance sow I did it thus.

I hope you feel noticeably wealthier now.


At 7:57 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

"sic, sic, sic," said Cattus Petasatus

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, JK, I'm now rolling in dough.

Not quite what I'd imagined, though. Kinda sticky...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Cattus Petasatus? Looks like Big Latin to me...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:28 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

"So,so, so", said The Cat in the Hat!

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jeanie, what happened to the expected space between "So" and "so"?

Even Medieval monks learned to leave space between words, but all that you've done is put a comma there...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Secret Agent Girl,

It's complicated but it goes back to Richard Nixon and my desire to be the CEO for a company wherein I could lose for the company a bunch of money and still get a golden parachute.

You'll recall that Jeffery couldn't grant you that PhD? Well if the SEC hadn't shut down his "Doctorate School" he could've granted your desire. And the fault of that is totally mine.

This past weekend's purchase of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan, Stanley for 2 bucks a share might give you your proper answer but keep in mind that Jeff has a PhD in "History of Science." And I knew just enough about business and history to almost get him in as much trouble as I did. Almost.

I owed him. Anyway when he did have his PhD granting power he gave me one in "Metaphysics of Ethereal Purturbations" from a path he serendipitiously started me on when I noticed "Fan Death."

With that PhD in hand I applied for tenure at the Harvard Business School. They didn't give me tenure but with Jeff's prestigiosity they did give me an MBA, whereupon I went to Arkansas' Job Service and a Wall Street firm pounced on my credentialed self.

When Nixon took the USA off the gold standard back in the 70's that furthered my plans but I inadvertently placed Dr. Hodges in some difficulty and that's why I've felt so guilty. Skip back ahead to when Interpol shut down his Swiss bank account and there you have it. It's twisted I know but it is his blog and I take up too much space.

Long story short. I'm busy at the Bureau of Engraving printing up a few billion dollars (which not backed by some kinda metal) is what's called "deficit printing."

Don't nobody worry. I'm saving the world economy. Me and the memory of Richard Nixon. That's why I didn't spell it $ough.

Sorry about the stickiness Jeff, just hang it on the clothes line for a few hours.


At 11:02 AM, Blogger jeanie oliver said...

aha, an illumination.

Oh, mighty comma and spacing professor, check the caption under your pic w/today's post. If you get picky about punctuation, then consider it a "blub" on my part.
that's all the energy I have today for tantalizing repartee!

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JK, even I no longer know who you are.

. . . Just Kidding.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jeanie, thanks for the heads-up. I'll look into the caption business and punish the offending party.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

There. All normalized.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Jeffery,

You and your problems with the commas. Comma to the Federal Reserve and help me print up some $our Dough.

(Well actually the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Engraving are at different ends of 1600, just ask the taxi driver to take you to the less sticky end of town, the sticky end is not where you want to be.]


At 12:26 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

$our Dough sounds better. Be right over.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


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