Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chiasmus is arousing rhetoric that can weaken our judgment

Thanks to the moderating influence of the Christmas Season, we are enjoying a much-welcome respite from the vicious propaganda war over the forthcoming impeachment trial of the Philippine Supreme Court justice. After the holidays, however, we can be sure that the protagonists will be revving up their rhetoric to the hilt, so it’s very important for us to be able to sift truth, half-truth, and outright falsehood from their pronouncements. We need to be keenly aware how language is being manipulated to prove a point, and mustn’t allow vaulting or inflammatory rhetoric to put blinders over our eyes and stampede us into making wrong judgments.    

A figure of speech that we should particularly watch out for in our overheating political atmosphere is the chiasmus, which is language configured to strongly arouse our emotions and diminish our logical thinking. Whether the chiasmus is a great truth or an outrageous fallacy masquerading as one, it certainly won’t be in short supply in our midst after New Year’s Day of 2012; it will worm itself into public forums and debates, media editorials and opinion columns, and rallies and demonstrations on the impeachment issue. For this reason, I thought of posting here an essay on chiasmus that I wrote for my English-usage column in The Manila Times way back in 2003. By having a clear understanding of what chiasmus is and how it works, we can better take delight and satisfaction in the truthful ones that come our way and dismiss the outright falsehoods lurking among them. (December 25, 2011)

A powerful figure of speech that we should watch out for

Ever wondered how some people have moved us or inspired us to do great things their way, or mesmerized us, put blinders on our eyes, then made us do irrational things that we would never have dreamed of doing had we not been under their spell?

If so, then the speakers—unless they had recited great poetry—must have been using chiasmus. This figure of speech towers above all the other rhetorical devices in its ability to lower our built-in defenses and arouse our emotions. We could very well call chiasmus the linguistic incarnation of charisma—that rare and elusive power of certain people to inspire fierce loyalty and devotion among their followers.

The use of chiasmus dates back to antiquity. In the 6th century B.C., the extremely wealthy Lydian king Croesus went on record using it: “In peace sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons.” Such wisdom in only 13 words! Is it possible that he became fabulously wealthy because he was so adept at chiasmus and—by implication—at compelling people’s obedience? Or did he become so good at coining chiasmus because his wealth had allowed him the leisure to craft it?

Now take a look at this familiar line from U.S. president John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address, on which so many English-language elocution students had labored investing their own vocal energies over the years: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Just 17 words, but they give us the feeling of an immensely satisfying four-hour lecture on good citizenship. Then see chiasmus at work in this charming line by the English physician and author Havelock Ellis: “Charm is a woman’s strength; strength is a man’s charm.” And, one more time, hark to this timeless sage advice from Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.”

By now you must have already discovered for yourself the fundamental structure and mechanism of chiasmus:  it reverses the order of words in two parallel phrases. Take this chiasmus by the legendary Hollywood actress Mae West: “I’d rather be looked over than overlooked.” “Looked over” is “overlooked” in reverse, making the speaker wickedly but deliciously imply that she enjoys being ogled at. Or take this arresting, old advertising slogan of a Philippine insurance company: “If someone depends on you, you can depend on Insular Life.” By some linguistic alchemy, the parallel word reversals arouse our senses, disarming us so we readily accept their claim as true. Chiasmus has this power because it heightens the sense of drama in language by surprise. It is no wonder that it holds the distinction of being mankind’s all-time vehicle for expressing great truths and, conversely, also great untruths.

Most types of chiasmus reverse the words of familiar sayings in a felicitously parallel way, as in the French proverb, “Love makes time pass, time makes love pass.” For chiasmus to succeed, however, the two insights offered by the word reversals should both be true and survive subsequent scrutiny. (They could also be untrue, and therein lies the danger in chiasmus in the hands of demagogues and charlatans.) But chiasmus need not be an exact reversal of a familiar saying. Take what the English writer Richard Brinksley said on beholding for the first time the woman whom he was to later marry: “Why don’t you come into my garden? I would like my roses to see you.” This implied chiasmus cleverly reverses this usual invitation of proud homemakers: “I’d like you to see my roses.” And chiasmus also nicely takes the form of questions, as in this line from Antigone by the 5th century Greek dramatist Sophocles: “What greater ornament to a son than a father’s glory, or to a father than a son’s honorable conduct?”

If chiasmus is this pleasurable, does it mean that we should spend a lot of time composing it ourselves to impress people? Not at all! Chiasmus is meant to be used very sparingly, to be reserved only for those very special moments when saying them can truly spell a make-or-break difference in our lives, like preparing for battle, wooing the hearts and minds of people, ruing abject failure, or celebrating great success. In our everyday lives, it is enough for us to spot a good chiasmus so we can savor its wisdom, and to have the wisdom to know when we are simply being conned with fallacy or propaganda masquerading as great truth. (October 16, 2003)
From the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times, October 16, 2003 issue © 2003 by The Manila Times. All rights reserved.

Visit Jose Carillo's English Forum now!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The need for rational thinking in the battle for the public mind

There’s now a ferocious battle for the public mind among three major independent branches of the Philippine government, namely the Executive and the Lower House on one hand, and the Supreme Court, on the other, with the Senate as sole judge of which side is in the right or in the wrong. The issue to be resolved is the recent impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Renato C. Corona. The bones of contention here are without doubt highly political and complex, but I believe that as enunciated by a 20th century American jurist, “Behind every argument is someone’s ignorance.” But that dictum is perhaps too one-dimensional in this particular case, so it might be advisable to add to the equation the possible elements of patriotism, vainglory, hatred, anger, or ambition in whatever measure they might come—elements that inevitably breed partisanship and biased thinking.

So, in the heat of this ongoing political battle, how do we figure out which side is rational, correct, and just? Which side is propping up its position with a forked tongue or with the sword of truth? Which side, indeed, is worthy of public acceptance and support?

To help us discern truth and falsehood in the vicious war of words that’s now engulfing the public sphere, I thought of posting in this week’s edition of the Forum an essay on language and logic I wrote in 2003 for my English-usage column in The Manila Times. I have updated the original essay by replacing references to topical examples during that time with more current and more relevant ones. I trust that you’ll find the essay helpful in arriving at an intelligent and informed perspective about this raging political conflict. (December 18, 2011)

Using words and labels as tools for persuasion

Most of us will be in familiar territory when we talk about using vocabulary as a tool for persuasion. To begin with, hardly ever are we neutral in our choice of words. Parents slant their words in particular ways to reinforce their parenting. Children do the same things to get what they want or get away with things. Our enemies do it to denigrate us in the eyes of others. Religious fanatics do it to make the faithful suspend their disbelief despite overwhelming evidence that they shouldn’t. Advertisers do it to make us part with our money gladly or without guilt. Ideologues and seekers of public office do it to prime us up for their political agenda. With no exception, all of us subtly stamp our words with a personal bias to persuade others to believe what we believe and to do what we want them to do.

First on our language agenda is, of course, to label people, places, and things. Depending on our intent, biases, or predispositions, for instance, a medical doctor becomes a “health professional,” a “lifesaver,” a “cutup artist,” or a “quack,” and a public relations man becomes a “corporate communicator,” a “spin master,” a “hack writer,” or a “flack.” We do this not necessarily to denigrate people per se, but only to quickly indicate our attitude and feelings toward the subject. This is because if we don’t label our subjects, it often takes us an unduly long time to put them in context for our audiences. Rightly or wrongly then, the idea behind labeling in suasive diction (“Giving a touch of authority to our prose,” December 3, 2011) is primarily to achieve economy in language. We label things because time is short and we don’t have all the time in the world to explain ourselves. 

Using labels is only the beginning of how we slant our language. Even without meaning to or often without knowing it, we take recourse to idiomatic expressions, clichés, slogans and metaphors to drive home our point more efficiently. Most of us know, for instance, that “it’s water under the bridge,” “as sure as the sun sets in the west,” and “at the end of the day” are horribly timeworn clichés, but we still compulsively use them to emphasize our point. We have no qualms of running clichés to exhaustion, unless we happen to be professional speakers or writers who must come up with new ways of saying things as a matter of honor. In fact, the only time we are much more circumspect about using them is when we write something for the public record or for publication under our names. Like most everybody else, we don’t want to have any evidence of lack of originality or of shameless copycatting to be taken against us.

However, there are two major disciplines that methodically and ruthlessly use clichés, slogans, and metaphors for mind-bending purposes: advertising and politics. Here, we enter that region of language where hardly anything said is exactly what it means literally. We come face-to-face with “double-speak” or rhetoric exploited to the hilt, language that often teeters at the very outer edges of the truth and carried out by incessant repetition. It is suasive diction that, for good or ill, seeks to build niches in our minds for all sorts of marketing or political agenda. We can see, of course, that the mass media is chockfull of advertising that uses this kind of slanted language; as to particular specimens of political propaganda, we need go to specifics here since we are in the midst of a propaganda war that’s being viciously fought among three supposedly independent branches of a democratic government.1 It is enough that we are forewarned against taking their tirades against one another at their face value, and that we forearm ourselves by learning how to appreciate their messages critically and intelligently. As they say in Latin, caveat emptor, a warning that what we are dealing with here is language that’s barbed all over inside.

These thoughts about advertising and politics bring us to the use of grammatical ambiguity as a tool for suasive diction. Remember our lessons for using “it”-cleft sentences to achieve emphasis? (“When Even the Passive Voice Isn’t Enough,” June 26, 2009) By definition, we defined the cleft as one that “cleaves” or splits a single-clause sentence into two clauses for semantic emphasis, and the “it-cleft” is that variety that uses the function word “it” to highlight an object of special focus or theme, as in this statement: “It appears that our camp will triumph in this fight.”2 In advertising and political propaganda, this sentence construction is often designed to artfully hide the source of the statement of the “experiencer” to make it appear as a fact rather than a conjecture. That sleigh of language gives the semblance of certainty—a deliberate distortion of language to create what we all know as the “bandwagon” effect. 

In suasive diction, therefore, it behooves us not only to watch our own language, but also the language of those who would deliberately subvert it to promote their agenda at our expense. (March 18, 2004)

From the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times, March 18, 2004 issue © 2004 by The Manila Times. All rights reserved.
1I have taken the liberty of revising this particular sentence to make the context of its reference to particular forms of political propaganda more current and relevant. In the original essay, the reference was to the fact that the country was “in the midst of a viciously fought national election season.”
2For the same reason stated in the first footnote above, this sample quote replaces this quote in the original essay: “It appears that our candidate will score a landslide victory.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The great strides made by English toward nondiscriminatory grammar

For centuries, English had been intrinsically a sexist and discrimatory language, its lexicon and grammar not only explicitly treating men as superior to women but also emphasizing the dependence of women to men. This, of course, is evident in the strong male bias in such age-old idioms as “the best man for the job” and “one-man show” and in such occupational nouns and jobs as “craftsman” and “postman,” along with the use of the masculine “his” as default pronoun for the indefinite pronouns “everybody” and “everyone.” Thanks to the impetus provided by the feminist and civil libertarian movements in the major English-speaking countries, however, the English language has been seeing a welcome shift toward nondiscriminatory grammar, structure, and form these past several decades.

In a two-part essay that I wrote for my English-usage column in The Manila Times way back in 2004, “Using nondiscrimimatory language,” I took a look at these revolutionary changes in the English language and focused on the four major sexist tendencies and biases that it had most successfully curbed or at least attenuated. I have decided to post that essay here to clarify matters for those who, despite their best efforts, still find their written and spoken English hamstrung by its built-in sexist or discriminatory grammar and semantics. (December 11, 2011)   

Using nondiscriminatory language

Part I:

During the past several decades, a sometimes raucous but generally silent revolution has been taking place within the English language. This revolution—call it an induced evolution, if you may—is the much welcome shift of English toward nondiscriminatory grammar, structure, and form. Fanned by the civil libertarian and feminist movements in the major English-speaking countries, this movement has substantially freed the inherently sexist, chauvinist language of Chaucer and Shakespeare from some of its most vexing linguistic biases. For the first time in its 1,500-year history, and well in keeping with its role as today’s global language, English is now consciously nondiscriminatory in its more formal forms. Informally, of course, it still has to find ways of cleaning up some more intractable semantic vestiges that prevent it from expressing total equality and respect for all individuals.

The language has been most successful in handling four problematic tendencies: (1) discriminating against women in word formation, grammar, and sentence structure; (2) universalizing human attributes in favor of men; (3) treating people asymmetrically based on such aspects as gender, age, and ethnicity; and (4) unfairly focusing on irrelevant, discriminatory characteristics of people when describing them in negative situations. We will examine these areas of success more closely, then look at the hard-core semantic structures for which English still has to find enduring nondiscriminatory alternatives.

Nondiscriminatory word formation, grammar, and sentence structure. For centuries, English had been bedeviled by its linguistic propensity not only to treat men as superior to women but also to emphasize the dependence of women to men. We all know, for instance, how inherently sexist the most common English idioms are, like “the man in the street,” “the best man for the job,” “one-man show,” and “man to man.” Similarly, its generic occupational nouns and job titles have for ages been male-oriented: “laymen,” “policeman,” “businessman,” “craftsman,” “fireman,” “postman,” and “salesman.”

Due to pressure from the feminist movement, however, major inroads have been achieved against this blatant sexism in the English vocabulary, making those phrases politically incorrect in educated circles. As nondiscriminatory equivalents for  “the man in the street,” for instance, we now have “the average citizen,” “the average person,” or “an ordinary person.” For “the best man for the job,” we now have “the best candidate [applicant, person] for the job”; and for “one-man show,” we now have “solo show” or “one-person show.” In the occupational areas, of course, the following nondiscriminatory equivalents are now routine in formal circles: for “layman,” we have “laypeople,” “non-specialist,” or “non-professional”; for “policeman,” we have “police officer”; for “businessman,” we have “business executive”; and for “fireman,” we have “firefighter.”  

English is also successfully veering away from the traditionally sexist way of adding the suffixes –ess, –ette, and –trix to feminize male words, as in “seamstress” for “seamster” and “poetess” for “poet,” “usherette” for “usher” and “bachelorette” for “bachelor,” and “administratrix” for “administrator” and “mediatrix” for “mediator.” Self-respecting women rightly saw this word formation as trivializing and discriminatory, in much the same way as labeling a female professional as, say, a “woman doctor,” a “lady lawyer,” a “woman reporter,” or a “female accountant.” Such expressions are now scrupulously avoided, particularly in contexts where gender-specific reference is irrelevant. 

Avoiding the tendency to universalize human attributes in favor of men. Because of its inherent male chauvinism, the English language has historically treated men as the universal stereotype for humanity in general, glossing over women to the point of their total invisibility or exclusion. Thus, even the usually politically correct American president Abraham Lincoln could not help but be male chauvinistic in his “Gettysburg Address”: “Fourscore and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth to this continent a new nation…” What happened, the feminists correctly asked, to the mothers and grandmothers and sisters and aunts on board the Mayflower when it docked at Portsmouth? Today, of course, a politically astute editor or adviser would have easily convinced Lincoln to change “our forefathers” to “our forebears” or, even more semantically precise, to “our grandparents.” We are well advised to do the same in our spoken and written English in the interest of gender equality and political correctness.

Avoiding the asymmetrical treatment of people on such aspects as gender, age, and ethnicity. Another glaring discriminatory aspect of English usage that we must consciously avoid is focusing on the attributes or background of females in negative or unflattering contexts involving males, as in this statement: “Five suspected drug addicts, four of them teenage male students and the fifth a pretty coed, were arrested in a predawn raid on a drug joint in Taguig, Parañaque City.” Such discriminatory language is now becoming rare in the more enlightened English-speaking countries, but it is still endemic in Philippine journalism, particularly in the English-language tabloids. We still have miles to go before we can finally exorcise such patently discriminatory goblins from our macho culture. (March 19, 2004)

Part II:

We resume our discussion of the use of nondiscriminatory language in English, this time focusing on its success in avoiding asymmetrical treatment of people on account of their age, ethnicity and social standing. To begin with, it is no longer socially and politically correct to label people past middle age as “the old,” “the aged,” or “septuagenarians”; they are more properly referred to now as “older people,” “seniors,” or “senior citizens.” In the same token, to call people in the lower age bracket as “youths,” “juveniles,” “adolescents,” “greenhorns,” or “neophytes” would be insensitive; the socially acceptable generic terms today are “young persons” and “young people.” Then, when referring to ethnic group members in negative situations, it is now unthinkable for the mainstream mass media to run a discriminatory headline like this: “Lithuanian [Polynesian, Armenian, Dane, Filipino, etc.] nabbed in Miami multinational drug bust.” The era of gratuitously stereotyping ethnic people for shock effect is long over.

Here in the Philippines, however, we are still prone to using dangerously unfair English-language stereotypes, particularly when referring to the disadvantaged sectors of our society. Take this recent headline of a leading national newspaper: “Old building collapses; 10 looters feared dead.” The story reported: “Nasipit Mayor Enrico Corvera said most of the victims were scavengers looking for metals inside the dilapidated and concrete-walled building...when it collapsed at around 2 p.m. yesterday.” The headline categorically labels those who died in the accident as “looters,” while the mayor simply identifies them as “scavengers.” A “looter,” by definition, is someone who “plunders or sacks in war,” or who “robs especially on a large scale and usually by violence or corruption”; a “scavenger,” on the other hand, is plainly “a garbage collector” or “a junk collector.” “Looting” is a criminal offense while “scavenging” is not, however lowly the occupation may appear, and no amount of headline-letter-count constraints can justify glossing over that difference in meaning. Because of the writer’s semantic ignorance, the victims have not only been killed owing to their poverty but were slandered even in death.

Avoiding unfairly focusing on irrelevant or discriminatory characteristics of people when describing them in negative situations. It is obviously difficult for people to forego or curb the tendency to use derogatory language privately against their opponents or pet-peeves. Human nature seems to be permanently wired for that. But to use blatantly discriminatory language in polite society or in the mass media is an altogether different matter. We have to avoid it not only in the interest of good taste and political correctness but also to avoid committing slander or libel.

Take this discriminatory reporting still prevalent in Philippine journalism: “Singer X was adjudged the ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ award despite her diminutive size, being only 54 cm. on bare feet.” (What does her height got to do with her singing voice?) Or this spiel by a TV sports commentator: “The two runners performed in the 20K marathon like geriatrics just out of the hospital.” (This discriminatory remark slanders the runners and ailing aged people in general in one fell swoop.) And then this recent diatribe by a magazine columnist: “And when [Politician X], ever so slowly (and perhaps painfully), raised his arthritic right arm to emphasize a point, as we were taught to do in Ateneo elocution class, it was obvious to me that his target audience was the Living Dead.” (Deliciously wicked, that dig at “the Living Dead,” but the terribly unkind reference to Politician X’s pain in raising his supposedly arthritic right arm borders on the libelous, I think.)

Having taken a quick look at the progress English has made so far in fighting discriminatory language, we will now examine its hard-core grammar limitation that we already know so well, but which we must take pains learning how to handle better: English has no gender-neutral pronoun for the third person singular, a quirk that forces it to use the generic masculine forms “he,” “him,” and “his” to refer to both men and women. We thus usually end up with discriminatory language that makes women invisible, like this: “The typical Filipino voter is a laborer who works in a factory, or a farmer who subsists in marginal farming. He has a wife who usually augments the family income with piecework or retail selling. Sometimes these roles are simply reversed.” For gender equality, and also considering the fact that Filipino women slightly outnumber the men, it would be prudent to refer to the Filipino in the generic plural: “Majority of Filipinos are laborers who work in a factory, or farmers who subsist in marginal farming. They have spouses who usually augment the family income through piecework or retail selling.”

By being more discerning in our choice of words, we can make ourselves confidently and pleasantly nondiscriminatory in our larger uses of the English language. (March 22, 2004)
From the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times, March 19 and 22, 2004 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The serious lack of civility that afflicts public discourse

At this time in our country when civility appears to be vanishing from the public sphere, when many traditional seats of power in our society seem to be going out of control or under assault or both, and when every threatened vested interest or emboldened rabble-rouser is now viciously aiming for the enemy’s jugular, it should be of great public interest to closely examine the kind of language being used by the protagonists and antagonists. Are they speaking and acting in keeping with who they think, presume, or pretend they are? Are they using language that conveys their thoughts and desires in ways that validate and support their own self-concept or projection of ourselves? Or is their language going out of bounds, eroding instead of giving a touch of authority to their public pronouncements?

I recall that towards the end of 2005, the country was being buffeted by the same lack of civility, a situation that prompted me to write an essay about suasive diction—the deft use of language to persuasively convey facts and the speaker’s feelings toward those facts—for my English-usage column in The Manila Times. I think that essay, “Giving a touch of authority to our prose,” has become even more relevant today so I thought of posting here today. (December 4, 2011)

Giving a touch of authority to our prose

“Oh what a pair we make,” whispered the Prince of Wales to the pilloried presumptive royal knight William in the riotously charming film A Knight’s Tale, “both trying hard to hide who we really are, and both miserably failing to do so.” For those who have not seen the movie, the prince was constrained to shed off his disguise as a monk among the lynching mob to save the disgraced knight, who a few days earlier had spared him from the ignominy of certain defeat by refusing to joust with him in a tournament. The knight, through the machinations of a villainous duke, was thereafter unmasked as a lowly thatcher’s son masquerading as a member of royalty, thus leading to his arrest and humiliation on the pillory.

This medieval morality tale gives a powerful insight into the crucial need to speak and act in keeping with who we think, presume, or pretend we are. When we write, in particular, we must use language that conveys our thoughts in ways that validate and support our own self-concept or projection of ourselves. The wife of the Caesar must not only be chaste but must look and sound chaste. The professor must really look and sound professorial. The presidentiable must really look and sound presidentiable. To fail to do this in both civilized and uncivilized society—or not to have the wisdom or guile to at least sustain the charade—is to invite catastrophe, which is precisely what brought the presumptive knight to the pillory for public lynching.

Be that as it may, our most potent tool for becoming credible is what the linguists call suasive diction. This is using language to persuasively convey facts and the speaker’s feelings toward those facts. No instrument is more potent for doing that, of course, than the writer’s or speaker’s vocabulary. Our words define us. Whether armed with excellent research or dubious information, whether motivated by good or bad intentions, we can turn off the audience with awkward or leaden words, or hold it in thrall with engaging words and well-turned phrases. It is largely through word choice, in fact, that we establish our credibility and rapport with our audience. Short of coercion or the force of arms, rarely can persuasive communication take place without this credibility and rapport.

The most basic technique for suasive diction is the proper use of the pronouns of power, namely “we,” “us,” “our,” “they,” and “them.” These innocent-looking pronouns can confer a sense of authority—the illusion of authority, if you may—to our written or spoken statements far beyond what the first-person singular can give. The first-person “I” and “me” speak only for the solitary communicator; the collective “we” and “us” speak for an entire group or institution, which people normally take for granted as less fallible and less prone to vainglory than the individual—hence more credible, more authoritative.

This is why, for instance, newspaper editorials routinely use the institutional “we” although they are usually crafted by a solitary writer not so high on the paper’s editorial totem pole; it’s also why tyrants and despots of every stripe and persuasion always invoke “the right vested in me by God/ law/ the sovereign people” to seize power or hold on to it, and why candidates of paltry qualification and virtue invariably invoke “the people’s great desire for change” or “divine signs in the sky” as their passport to public office.

Of course, “we,” “us,” “our,” “they,” and “them” work just as well as pronouns of solidarity. They foster a stronger sense of closeness and intimacy with the audience, and can more easily put audiences at ease with what the speaker has to say. In contrast, the first person “I” often comes across as too one-sided and self-serving, particularly in writing, while the second person “you” can sound too pedantic and intimidating. We stand a much greater chance of getting a fair hearing from those antagonistic to our position by making them think that we are actually on their side.

Even if we are good at using the pronouns of power and solidarity, however, we must not for a minute believe that they are all we need to achieve suasive diction. The facts supporting our contention must be substantial and accurate. Our opinions must be truly informed, not half-baked. Our logic must be sound and beyond reproach. Our delivery must me convincing. If not, we might just end up like that otherwise seemingly enlightened prince in A Knight’s Tale, lying to the lynching mob that William the thatcher’s son was actually descended from an ancient line of kings, then justifying that claim by nonchalantly invoking royal infallibility: “I say so by the authority of my father the King, and that’s beyond any contestation.”

Royally said indeed, but utterly illogical and absurd. (November 14, 2005)
From the weekly column “English Plain and Simple” by Jose A. Carillo in The Manila Times, November 14, 2005 by the Manila Times Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.

Click this link to visit Jose Carillo's English Forum