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English majors to the fore!

A Tribune news brief in the January 29 Baltimore Sun:

Alejandrina Cabrera, a city council candidate in Arizona, is appealing a lower court decision that barred her from seeking office because a judge determined that her English was too poor, one of her lawyers said Saturday.

I wonder how a judge would have ruled had he been called upon to decide the qualifications of the elder Richard Daley to be mayor of Chicago on the basis of his mastery of English. Or in Baltimore, what the adjudication would have been for the late and beloved Councilman Mimi DiPietro, whose heroic struggles with intelligibility were legendary.

A few years back, I made sport of Taneytown, Maryland, as its elected representatives weighed a measure to make English the official municipal language. In angry defense, Paul Chamberlain posted this comment on the blog—I represent it verbatim:

Only individuals who have no idea of the intent of this Resolution, spew such ludicrist comments. Please feel free to email me personnally so I can enlighten you on why an Elected Official would actually be pushing forward what his Constituents are asking for and what the actual intent is for such as measure.

Imagine Mr. Chamberlain dragged in shackles before an Arizona judge, and his fate.

But I see a glimmer of hope in these proceedings for my fellow English majors, long unemployed, or under-employed in labors typically performed by illegal immigrants.

Summon them to the courts, I say. Let them serve as advocates and filers of amicus briefs and magistrates. Let candidates for public office be led before them to demonstrate their fluency with the language. Issue them badges that they may frequent news conferences and speeches with an eye to putting the bracelets on any public figure who commits syntactical misdemeanors.

We serve and correct.



Posted by John McIntyre at 8:44 PM | | Comments (7)


John, it's worth noting that this San Luis, Ariz., City Council candidacy is being challenged not by those horrible, racist "anti-immigration" Republicans, but by the city's mayor, one Juan Carlos Escamilla, who according to the L.A. Times "has said himself that his English is far from perfect." Don't make more of this than it is — just dirty politics as usual.

Stupid is as stupid does, irrespective of political affiliation.

Yahoos are yahoos are yahoos.

But I like it! Politicians would need round-the-clock language consultants for everything they say and write in order to ensure they stay out of court -- full employment for copy editors.

Stupid is as stupid does, indeed, but it is always helpful to be cognazoidial about this things in the broad tappastrees of Merican poltick. I mean ticks.

"Amicus" briefs? Keep yer fancy French to yourself!

A post by R.L.G. at Johnson is very much to the point:

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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