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June 13, 2007



Just to let you know, I read TNH every day before heading to FDL and TPM.

Lovely Lurita; meter maid. Bad Beatles pun for those wondering if I went off the deep end.

I never took Latin, but I did help my sister study to become a Texas state Latin champ (over 30 years ago). I never expected to hear about the hortary subjunctive and the Hatch Act in the same breath. I was sort of expecting Sarbanes to call on his Greek heritage to rebut Doan.

The subjunctive is a mood, not a tense.

The "now let's look at the hortatory subjunctive, shall we?" is hysterical. Trying to figure this out. So she said that she had a problem with tenses with regards to her employees rehabilitating themselves. She gets the past-present-future response, and spontaneously throws down the hortatory subjunctive line. So I'm guessing that this reveals her sophisticated grammatical knowledge of "Let us...", i.e. she was saying to her intimidated employees "let's be good workers, serving Lurita," and then you'll get your bonuses.

But what I'm thinking is that she only knows about the hortatory subjunctive because she (and her lawyer) have been trying to find a crafty way to rationalize and justify the statement that busted her. As you say, the royal we evokes her power, but when you break it down what is it, what were you trying to say about "our" candidates, Lurita? Well, it's just a little hortatory subjunctive, that's all, no harm done.

So maybe that's why she knows about this. Funny how it was replaced by the imperative.

Nothing like the thrill of a grammatical hunt into violations of the Hatch Act. Don't go there, Lurita. You're messing with a crowd that has an insatiable appetite for this type of thing.

Wearing the Superstar2's today, not the Keens. Might want to pass the "rehabilitated" line on to the Gucci boots for analysis.

zhiv: "... what I'm thinking is that she only knows about the hortatory subjunctive because she (and her lawyer) have been trying to find a crafty way to rationalize and justify the statement that busted her."

That's possible. But it seems more likely that Lurita was just arrogantly undermining her own testimony, undercutting her 'confusion about tenses' argument, with her 'look at how smart I am' by quibbling with Yarmuths 'reductio ad tenses' assertion.

But it seems more likely that Lurita was just arrogantly undermining her own testimony, undercutting her 'confusion about tenses' argument, with her 'look at how smart I am' by quibbling with Yarmuths 'reductio ad tenses' assertion.

Like Gonzalez claiming the Constitution does not affirm the right to habeas corpus with exceptions. Too smart by two, too arrogant, too often on the wrong side of the law.

JGabriel-- Maybe. But let's do a quick poll of our own "overeducated" crowd here in Marcyland: how many of us would have been able to look at "rehabilitated" and pull out "that's just the hortatory subjunctive?" Not me, not by a million miles. Unless I'm mistaken, fighting feuilltonista ew herself said "what the fuck was that she just said?" and used the fastest keyboard in the blogosphere to look it up and make the link. The "showing off" (and discrediting herself in the process) theory doesn't work for me. You only know about the hortatory subjunctive if you're looking for it. And I'm guessing that's even the source for "I don't know about tenses..." Why would she even say that if she hadn't been looking through tenses and grammatical moods as a way to get herself off the hook?

Not very important in big scheme of things, but it's kind of fun to break down a 5 dollar lie when there's so much 2 cent bullshit being thrown around.

Hortatory subjunctive video up at TPM. The Sarbanes clip is great. "It's an exhortation..."

Oh boy, thanks Marcy for giving me an excuse to release my inner grammar geek! Having struggled with the various moods of the subjunctive in university French, the English subjunctive mood is relatively simple. I suspect that Ms. Doan was provided this grammatical gyration by a well-educated lawyer, and not as a result of having prepared for this presentation by having flipped through a well-thumbed copy of Fowlers Modern English Usage. Perhaps Ms. Doan is using the subjunctive in the ironic sense apocryphally attributed to Marie Antoinette, "If they have no bread, let them eat cake.", but this seems a bit of a stretch. Pulling out my Fowlers, I see that the past subjunctive is employed after "that" clauses to introduce a situation that the actor wants to bring about, following verbs like "propose", or "recommend", or "suggest"; and after phrases like "it is advisable / desirable / essential / fitting / imperative/important/necessary/urgent/vital that". "What can we do to help our candidates?" sounds like that archaic and obscure grammatical contruct known as a "question". (SNARK)!

Thanks for all your fine work, Marcy. I managed to get in to the FDL comments several times and my first response to your explanation got swallowed somehow. Although you said that Greek did not have the hortatory subjunctive, I believe it does at least in Modern Greek--Aς (Greek for let)may be followed by the subjunctive in either of its two aspects and is in first-person plural, depending on the context and intent.

Grammar or language in general is always a sensitive point, since it goes to one's identity at many levels, but the ability to manipulate it to one's advantage has promoted or curtailed various careers.

I often find it instructive to wonder about the language used by our leaders as well as the mainstream media, and I believe much of what I find there is largely lies or press releases.

Various grammar points aside, tense, aspect, and mood (for those who know what they mean) I would like some plain-speaking in plain language that does not contain numerous weasling responses.

I would be happy to hear how your book is doing, since I ordered three or four for myself and family.

Keep up the good work,



Do you really have a copy of "Fowlers"? And I thought I was a grammar geek. I bow before your superior grammar geekiness.

For those of us who think about language, this might be just the gambit to turn us away from the more significant issues. As one who has posted several times in regard to grammar, language, tense, mood, and aspect, I suggest it might be better to focus on the legal issues and on the results of their actions.

I thought she was admitting to being part of a hoary subculture.

My ribs hurt from laughing; I am so sorry I missed Cookie's testimony today, but you folks made up for it in comments, along with Marcy's post.

OMFG. Too funny. "Hortary subjunctive...hoary subculture."

so dan quayle was just the first attempt to baffle the opponent with linguistic inconsistencies

and, just like dan quayle, they still can't outwit a fourth-grader

A hortatory subjunctive is always in the first person. The speaker is encouraging the listener to do the same thing that she or he is about to do.

If Doan and her listeners could and would do the same thing, then it could be a hortatory subjunctive. They're on the team together, scoring those points.

But if the listener is being told to do something the speaker cannot or will not do, the mood is imperative, not subjunctive. And that is typically what bad managers do that's different from good leaders.

WO - Yes I do, I bought it on the recommendation of an English professor lo these many years ago and never regretted it. Right next to The Elements of Style on my bookshelf. Thanks for the kind words, but I've borrowed you Razor on many occasions so I guess we're even. :)

Doan was contempuous and disrespectful of the oversight committee. She obfuscated and tried to run out the clock with long-winded equivocations. She made jokes at the expense of Congressmen who asked her tough questions but did so with nothing but respect. Doan's arrogance was palpable.

The office of special counsil that investigated complaints about her,which was appointed by the Bush adminstration, recommended to President Bush that Doan be given the harshest punishment, termination. Waxman said he thought she should resign. Davis wished her the best of luck.

I just read her comments as quoted on Dkos.

"Until extensive rehabilitation of their performance occurs, they will not be getting promoted and will not be getting bonuses or special awards or anything of that nature."

This is a future contrary to fact. This is a subjective, not an indicative mood.

The Contrary-to-Fact Conditional
Roderick M. Chisholm
Mind, New Series, Vol. 55, No. 220 (Oct., 1946), pp. 289-307

Alison - Whatever Cookies wants to label it, expecting specific performance in exchange for money still a quid pro quo.

An Exaltation of Larks is an ancient term of venery (the chase), where it is essential to know the correct term for various assemblages. Given the politicizing activities of these officials, and their lack of memory, perhaps we can add a new term to the lists of birds and beasts:

An Exhortation of Golden-Throated Nit-Wits

Someone who played with words could perhaps delightfully gather and bind most of Washington into appropriate groups.

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