Opinions

Making an example of the Gauntlet

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Editor, the Gauntlet,

Re: "Emergence of party politics," Jan. 29, 2004,

I am presently conducting a writing exercise in my geology class, and have explained to my students how some writers use big, impressive-sounding and occasionally mischosen words in long, ponderous, grandiose sentences to mask the fact that they have little to say in the first place. You will be glad to know that I used the editorial specified above as an example of such abuse of English.

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Dear Editors,

I would like to thank Mr. Osborn for giving me a good laugh in his letter in your February 12 issue.

Prior to reading the letter, my son complained to me that he didn't understand some composition he was supposed to study for school, comparing the author to "a stupid caveman" for using long words in unusual ways. He departed with my dictionary, complaining (in different words) that authors shouldn't use words with which he was not personally familiar. I gave him the standard silver platter speech. Twenty minutes hence, he proclaimed, "I didn't know you could make beautiful things with words." He was ever so excited that someone had put in one paragraph what would have taken him pages and pages to write, and with such "neatness"!

Before I could ask him what he was reading (to which he later replied "something called the 'Preamble to the Constitution of the United States,'"), he questioned why we all didn't write with such beauty and "neatness." I replied something to the effect of "not everyone wants to learn to use English to its full potential."

Later, I showed him Mr. Osborn's letter. He asked why Mr. Osborn hated English so much, and then he laughed too.

Yours Truly,


Jennifer Davies,
Mom, U of C student, legal assistant

Editors, a letter:

Dr. Osborn's critique of form, rather than substance, of the article in question is disappointingly narrow-minded. It is the latter which provides insight and engages the intellect.

Yes, the editorial in question was more difficult to read than standard fare, but only because it forced readers to think more about the concentration and wealth of ideas contained in it. I suggest Dr. Osborn closely re-read the article open mindedly if he found "little to say" in the first reading. In reality, it provided much foresight into how the election worked out.

As for "abuse of English," I hope Dr. Osborn's students are learning to write, in opposition to just learning to make their writing look like an obtuse and arbitrary style manual, since writing skills are applicable to areas outside J. Anal. Ret..

Yours,
Ivan Iakimovich

I would like to thank the original author for treating the election with such dignity. It's so easy to find cynical pieces on politics that reading an editorial that treats it seriously is wonderful for me.