Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Tired of John Kerry Emailing Me

I'm on Kerry's distribution list, apparently -- it must be the stuff I was involved with leading up the election. But this is starting to annoy me, epecially when I see cleverly-couched missives that include phrases like the following:
No, I'm not running for mayor. But, my good friend, Antonio Villaraigosa is.
Your average Joe, I imagine, would now believe that Kerry and Villaraigosa are good friends and, presumably, this would be a reason to vote for the latter (presumably). But look at those commas -- most folks don't bother to note them, but what they tell me is that John Kerry's automated email is addressing me as "good friend," and not writing "my good friend Antonio Villaraigosa."

Am I wrong? Is it not intended to mislead? Right-wing fans of Toner Mishap should feel free to submit their two cents.

9 comments:

Pirate said...

There is some ambiguity about those commas, that's for sure. You're not wrong in your interpretation of it; however, I think you overestimate the grammatical skills of the average reader (and I think the writer of that sentence did, too) if there is any thought that the sentence might be analyzed for what it REALLY means or what the writer REALLY meant to say. People are so illiterate ... sigh.

Attila said...

1. The writer did not overestimate the grammatical skills of the average reader but simply made a mistake. He intended to say "my good friend Antonio Whosiewhatsis" but added an unnecessary comma.

Alternatively, 2. You are indeed John Kerry's good friend, or, as the Clintons put it about the folks who slept in the Lincoln Bedroom, you are a friend or a not-yet friend. You know, of course, that with politicians, everyone is "my good friend." Sheesh, even I would be Kerry's good friend.

Anonymous said...

Technically, there should have been comma after V's name, then "good friend" would have been a proper compound modifier. BTW, there shouldn't be a hyphen between "cleverly" and "couched."

B2 said...

Sure, no hyphen if you consider "cleverly" to be an adverb modifying the past tense verb "couched"... but not if you use "cleverly-couched" as a compund adjective, which is what I did.

I think.

Jack Steiner said...

I don't like either candidate in this race.

Kevin Church said...

I don't like it when they begin a sentence with "but."

Poor effort, all around. C-

See me after class.

Anonymous said...

B2 is right about "cleverly-couched," as that term can only modify "missives." Because "missives" is a noun, it can only be modified by an adjective. "Couched" is not acting as a verb here.

B2 may also be right about a nefarious intent behind the commas. I read it correctly (i.e. B2 is Kerry's good friend), but I'm persnickety about that sort of thing. A good number of people might very well see it the other way.

I'm also tired of John Kerry's email. He lost. I'd much rather receive mail from the next Democratic contender. That would be ... wait, it'll come to me ... uh-oh, it's not looking good....

Anonymous said...

The literal meaning of the last sentence is, indeed, addressing the reader as the "good friend." I honestly believe that the average American would overlook this. Why? I tutor undergraduates at a university. Nearly all of them have no knowledge or concept of commas and where and how they should be used. I suspect that if I showed that John Kerry email to them that they would come up with several (possibly even some nonsense) interpretations as opposed to the single, literal interpretation I gave.

And if that wasn't the email scribe's intention, then yeah, he/she/it has issues with tone and direction. I'd mark that email up with a pen of some sort if I could.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time reading Toner Mishap.. It's quickly been added to my favorites.

I had read 3 or 4 small quips before I risked clicking on this one. Being a conservative I realize I am in the minority here, but the name caught my eye.

I laughed a little bit when I read it over, immediatly I understood where you were going with this piece.. I'm now a fan of the Toner Mishap, regardless of political views (because hey, who doesn't hate the Republicans right now?).