Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Grammar and politics

“I’m not running on a platform of correct grammar.”

“It gives that homey feeling, horny hands and honest hearts!”
[Mayor Everett D. Noble (Raymond Walburn) and son Forrest (Bill Edwards). Click for larger views.]

Bill, taking dictation, has explained to his father that one cannot say “a sense of both humility, satisfaction, and gratitude.” Three things, not two. But father knows best.

Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) is a wonderful sample of Preston Sturges lunacy.

[Horny: “Callous or hardened so as to be horn-like in texture” (1693). Thanks, OED. The mayor’s paired synecdoches have a history. The earliest example I can find, via Google Books: “Our committee consists of working-men, our appeal is to the horny hands but honest hearts of toil”: Ernest Jones, Notes to the People (1851). I wonder if Sturges appealed to that history to get this dialogue past the censors.]

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