Thursday, June 9, 2011


Because in another life I am a linguist I cannot help but share with you the following creative linguistic gem, hailing to us from Ed Koch, the defunct mayor of New York City, describing the 2010 flotilla (I can be creative too!)

"That last attempt to break the Gaza blockade ended with nine people on the ships being killed after they attacked and injured the Israeli soldiers who took custody of those ships."

Going quite the distance beyond the standard use of passive ('being killed') vs. active ('they attacked and injured'), this one breaks new and stunning linguistic grounds by its use of innovative vocabulary.

Now,I cannot help but wonder whether Koch, like me, availed himself of the thesaurus in his search for the most appropriate term for describing this event of 'custody taking'.  Consequently, I also must wonder what expressions he may have considered as possible alternatives.  'Attacked and injured their Israeli safe keepers'?   'Viciously fought against the gentle restraining of their Israeli soldier care takers' mayhap? Did you consider 'guardian angels', Ed? 

Ah, words...

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

And the linguists among you may even know I have a particular angle..

No comments:

Post a Comment