Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sic Em

Today's Los Angeles Times had two stories about the remediation of the President's language. In "Bush gets an S, for slip-up," the reporter notes that although the President mispoke in an address at the Waldorf Astoria about the No Child Left Behind law by agrammatically saying "childrens do learn," the error had been cleaned up on the official transcript. However, when I checked the version of the transcript of the speech on the White House website, the original language had been restored, although it was followed with a bracketed "[sic]" to please those who value the sentence-level correctness that the No Child bill enshrines. In another story about "Tongue-twister names at the U.N.," we learn that the Chief Executive used phonetic guides to pronounce the names of world leaders and distant geographical locales such as "moo-Gah-bee" and "Hah-RAR-ray." I wonder if this technique is also used on the White House teleprompter?

When I first began to encourage the file-sharing of pedagogical materials in the large enrollment course in which I teach, I'll never forget when a French graduate student gleefully made a quiz available online to his colleagues that showed the correction symbols being used by the campus with a "Bushism" illustrating each error. It's an interesting document of the historical period, and I'm sorry to realize that I didn't archive it at the time. As I recall, I was worried about propagating an appearance of political bias, and so I didn't preserve that interesting piece of electronic ephemera.

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