« Cigar Men | Main | Nicely Named: Weightless Books »

May 30, 2012


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Speaking Truth About Power:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

You're right. Yesterday a Canadian federal cabinet minister said that he was "dealing with a law that was wrote sixty years ago."

Spot on, Nancy. Great post.

Great contribution to the debate, Nancy! This topic is not just linguistic - it reflects the claim that the "good language" preserves the state first expressed by Herder in the18th century Germany.

I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but I think you too easily discount the way that poor language usage can undermine credibility. You bring up the case of George W. Bush and how his flubs didn't prevent him from earning the presidency. But he was also often mocked as a dumb. Whether he was or wasn't isn't my point here. The perception that he wasn't smart undermined his credibility as a leader on both the U.S. and the world stages. As a result, he had a harder time reaching his political goals. He was very unpopular when he left the presidency, and it's notable that the next election brought in a president known for his mastery of language. So while I agree that the business and political worlds ("the people of power") ultimately don't pay anywhere near as much attention to prescriptivist rules as writers and other grammar nerds do, I do think good communication skills play an important role in leadership.

Nice post, Nancy.

Ms. Burns's hypercorrect 'whom' may have been motivated, at least in part, by its occurrence right after a preposition — or for one or several of the reasons Arnold Zwicky mentions here:

@Henry: I don’t dispute the value of good communication. I do dispute Bloom’s argument that it’s the lingua franca of the powerful, and that the hoi polloi needs to master it to be in with the in crowd. I wish it were so, but I don’t see much evidence of it. Indeed, I see almost the opposite – in corporate America, communication skills tend to be regarded as an arcane specialty. And writers and editors are among the first to be laid off in a “rightsizing” event.

Yeah, I’m a big old cynic.

But thanks for fighting the good fight! And for reading my blog.

Ultimately, the real issue is that the New Yorker likes to think of itself as relevant.

Very interesting post. Management speak presents a whole chamber of horrors that I attribute to a culture in which everyone is afraid of correcting those above them in the hierarchy. Presents many dangers. Remember how Hitler began issuing nonsensical orders because everyone was afraid to give him the bad news than divisions he was ordering didn't exist any more. When underlings never challenge fuzzy ideas indicated by fuzzy language, the organization is headed down a very dangerous road.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

My Photo

My Web Site

Top 25 Language Professionals Blogs 2012
Top 25 Language Professionals Blogs 2011
Top 10 Language Professionals Blogs 2010
Top 100 Language Blogs 2009

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Bookmark and Share