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Delbert H. Rhodes, Op-Ed

Story, The Obamas keep it REAL! -Ann Tripp, WBLS News

Of the many (troubling) things this country suffers, what is more disturbing is that the nation’s President represents as grammatically incorrect, “…There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” said President Obama.

“Their” and “them” are plural pronouns, the antecedent noun, black ‘male,’ is singular, therefore, here, demands singular referent pronouns. Corrected, “There is no black male my age, who is a professional, who has not come out of a restaurant, and is waiting for “his” car and somebody did not hand “him” “his” car keys.”

One wonders whether while addressing presidents and dignitaries of other nations the President speaks with such idiocy. If so then surely the fly on the wall cringes after hearing grammar mindful of “common folk,” someone poorly educated a presidential professional embracing lazy speech. Even more disheartening is that most people and President Obama are oblivious to incorrect diction.

Parents, teachers, pastors, and preachers and naturally the professional public speak this way; therefore, “What is the problem?”

The problem: The populous pounds on presidential doors waging indiscriminate complaints; yet, speech and its correctness appear less important. Dollars and cents support literacy programs, hello Oprah, and other educational endeavors; still, it boggles the mind that to a people and even a president representing as grammatically incorrect reigns.

Every walk of life witnesses footprints stained by the illiterate. That is to say, from low to high earners, criminals to crime fighters, jurors to judges, identify them; nowhere, it seems, does proper speech gavel the bench.

“Why criticize “this” President?” As would any President, Barack Obama owes responsibility to and is representative of the people. Publicly and even privately, his words, and deeds, speak to and for us; his triumphs and truths honor and dignify us; but his presidential faults or failures diminish us.

Agreed, every person errs; however, cracks in the Oval Office may be irreparable. Eloquence, excellence saturates the President’s speeches, and does he not write them, then what of his behaviors? Should we expect demand less?

Apparently, the President is in good (?) company. The very news agency reporting President Obama’s quote also misused grammar.

In the introduction to the presidential interview between People Magazine and the Obamas a writer for WBLS News inscribes, “…In an interview with People Magazine, our presidential family sat down with writer to discuss their experiences….”

Unless the experiences were equally shared by the Obamas, People Magazine and the writer the referent pronoun, their, is incorrect; it is plural, and the antecedent noun, family, is singular. The correct pronoun is the possessive pronoun, its. Of course, one may ask, is family not a unit of at least two; therefore, plural, and a collective noun?

Often, although necessarily not correctly, the speaker, writer decides number-singular-plural, however, regarding standard speech family is singular, and not a collective noun; as such, a unit of many demonstrates as one, singular. Additionally, the article, the, does not modify the noun writer …sat down with writer….

Of course, style has its place nevertheless; formally, the reporter’s poor, inattentive, writing habits are at best sloppy.

What does it say of our educational institutions whose alumni and alumnae exit halls of ivory (seemingly) never learning; and thereby, later, demonstrating (im) proper rules of grammar-it speaks poorly?

Does ignorance of poor speech excuse the behavior; should it, including and especially the expressions of a nation’s leader?

Mr. President, as a people we need and depend on you for many things one of them is diction that at least publicly is more presidential, must we seek Congressional approval?

Copyright © 2014 Delbert H. Rhodes

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