Friday, October 03, 2008

Since Language Log can't talk about politics

Rich Sweeney at Common Tragedies picked up on something odd in Palin's response to the "Is climate change manmade" question.

One of the many jaw-dropping Palin clip’s from the Katie Couric interview
shows Palin saying that it doesn’t matter what caused global warming, what
matters is that we do something about it now. Now that’s bad enough as is, but
as Johnny Walker pointed out to me, she also says, “I’m not going to solely
blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate.” WTF?
I notice that too. And figured it was a simple mistake. But as Sweeney notes, she did it again last night.
I have no clue why she does this. I vaguely remember some discussion on the American Dialect Society list about a similar switch, but I can't remember the word it happened in, so search is useless. Maybe Young Eric has something to add.

Update: In the comments, Grant Barrett, of the American Dialect Society, reminds me that the ADS-L discussion was around 'exchange' verbs like exchange, swap, trade, etc. Still not sure if there is a connection.


Grant Barrett said...

I think the switch you're remembering is the replacement switch.

"I swapped the red one for the blue one."

Which color thing do you now have? Some people will answer red, others will answer blue.

It also reminds me of the lend/borrow interchange.

Ed Keer said...

Thanks Grant!

maryann said...

I thought what she did with Couric was mix up "attribute" and "contribute" but then got the useage right in the debate. Her answer was almost word-for-word what she said with Couric, too, I believe.

Maybe she did that in addition to the excerpt you quoted...?

Ed Keer said...

In the debate she clearly says "attribute every activity of man to climate change." With Couric she says, "I’m not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate." Both of them seem, to me, to get causation backwards. Odd though that she uses the different verbs "blame" and "attribute".

boredoom said...

Yeah, this jumped out at me in the debate too. Maybe she's refuting de Montesquieu's theory that a cold climate constricts our bodies' fibers, and causes coarser juices to flow through them.

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