About This Site

Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
(What are figures of speech?)
Ask Figaro a question!

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    « You...You Moderate, You! | Main | (Gulp) »

    Our President Is a Right Proper Grammarian.

    BlueBush.jpgQuote:  “This is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence.”  President Bush on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

    Figure of Speech:  hyperbaton (hy-PER-ba-ton), the word-order shift.  From the Greek, meaning “to step over.”

    Want to tell when a politician is uncomfortable with his own words?  Watch for departures from his usual syntax.  Instead of showing confidence in the attorney general, today’s quote betrays a lack of confidence.

    A confident Bush would have said, “This is an honorable man.  I have confidence in him.”

    Instead, he employs an awkward word order that grammarians use to avoid dangling a participle (“in whom I have confidence”).  And he adds a protests-too-much “honest.”  Sure, some speechwriter may have fed him those words.  But Bush is a famously stern editor.  He insists on simple, direct, not necessarily grammatical sentences.  Except when he doesn’t.

    Polish that resume, Berto.

    Snappy Answer:  “He’s the sort of crony whose incompetence up with which you too much put.”

    Want to talk like Bush?  Click here

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments

    There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.

    My response is on my own website »
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.