“Acted Stupidly” Obama’s Word-Choice Malfunction–update


I stand by my blog. I won’t apologize for saying that “stupidly” is not a word. It’s not.

Thanks to a google search that led a reader to this blog methinks they got it.  A linguist POV might differ from that of an English teacher. A linguist goes by “usage rules.” But also that it is okay to create words. By that convention “stupidly” is not common usage but is a word.

The word-choice malfunction is my creation but the word “stupidly” may not be a word at all. The word stupid is an adjective and stupidity is a noun. The superlative forms would be stupider or stupidest. Many words can be formed into adj by adding -ly. But there is no need to do that for a word I hate to use “stupid.” Stupid.

Yes, readers our President had a true word-malfunction.

At the presser and in the haste of Obama defending Skip Gates he messed up. Not only is “stupidly” not a word, but the cop in question did his freakin job….I’m sorry I have to side with the cop.

In the Obamacare presser the end brought a justification of the means. He commented on the recent arrest and dismissal of same of Henry Louis Gates, PhD. He is a scholar and they are friends. But Obama is more than a friend he is the President.

His word choice was poor, in fact even poorer on closer examination…it appears that it is not a word at all. But an invented epithet hurled stupidly at the entire police dept. Did I say that? I meant to say hurled out of stupidity at the entire police department. We may have gotten at the crux of the problem–syntax. Or in this case a word shortcut. If you use stupidly in place of out of stupidity you save a few breaths. Isn’t that what being president is all about–saving conserving our way of life and thinking? I think so. 

The president is the standard bearer and in this case I think he simply dropped the baton with the whole world watching.

There are a million words he could have used but “stupid” should not have been one of them. Stupid is one word I never use with my students because I don’t want them using it on me. Stupid means that you have no clue about the situation or that is above your comprehension.

Police like teachers write infractions and tickets. We focus on the behavior. We write about what happened and not how we felt about it. That is what the cop did. He was not stupid nor was he acting stupidly. Yes, there is racial profiling for black men not excusing that but absenting that it was the officer’s duty to respond to a show of disrespect.

If Gates, prof. Gates did anything but smile and say Yes Officer, no officer then he was out of order. The Prez was also out of order. I don’t know about them but when I am out and about on my bike I wave at every officer I see cruising the neighborhood.

Update: My first impression was that “stupidly” was a word.  It is at best an awkward word choice.  It is not an oft-used form. It would come under rare usage, even if correct per snobby English teachers (whom I hate anyway).

And if you read my review of John McWhorter’s book “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue” you would know that anyone can make up a word. So even if this were not a word Obama could still use it and I would defend it. But most people think it is not a word based on usage. Case closed.

Heloise

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About heloise8

Meaning of "trough" -- Trough is the bottom of a transverse wave. And generically means a low point or a place to fill. Venus is related to this meaning. Veins are to be filled, and venusian people are loving. The left is more venusian than the right, hence The Trough--where Heloise helps the great and the small. Heloise the politico from Blogcritics.org. Physics preacher, blogger, gardener, beach lover, book lover, writer, author.

Posted on July 23, 2009, in Fiddler On The Roots, Government Trough, Pig Trough and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You are incorrect, stupidly is an adverb. Our Harvard educated President is both literate and articulate and he got this one exactly right. He described the action/verb…which, as you know, is an adverb. A cursory lexicon check would have rescued your blog from being based on a faulty premise.

  2. Update: Linguists might differ from English teachers on this one. My first impression was that “stupidly” was a word. In my original blog I did not SAY it was not a word. But people were googling it. So, I changed my stance because it is not a common usage. Actually we are both right. Per linguists “usage rocks and rules.”

    It is at best an awkward word choice. And BHO had no business calling the cop stupid, period. It is not an oft-used form. It would come under rare usage, even if correct per snobby English teachers (whom I hate anyway).

    And if you read my review of John McWhorter’s book “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue” you would know that anyone can make up a word. So even if this were not a word Obama could still use it and I would defend it. But most people think it is not a word based on usage. Case closed.

    Heloise

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