Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Controlling Grammar"

In the aftermath of the 2011 shootings in Tuscon Arizona, in which the best-known victim was then-Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D), some information gradually came out about some things that the shooter apparently believed.  One idea he reportedly had was that the government was somehow "controlling grammar".  As recalled in The Christian Science Monitor:
“The government is implying [sic] mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar," an individual widely thought to be Loughner writes in a Youtube video.
Loughner is the shooter's last name.  This quote appears to be itself quoted from another source, but TCSM does not mention or link any particular source, other than to credit The Arizona Republic as the source of an accompanying photo.  As also noted by TCSM, Loughner (or the person thought to be him) does not describe how controlling grammar is done.  Nor does he specify which government, as in federal, state or local, he thought was doing this.

How then, if you wanted to control grammar, would you go about doing so?  I would say that the answer to this question has come from the government of New York City, which requires businesses and landlords to use certain pronouns if a worker or tenant requests them, and levies heavy fines for not using them.  Read the details at the New York Post, MRC TV and Life Site.  While I'm not a linguistics expert, I do know that pronoun use is an aspect of grammar.  This means that if you're regulating pronouns, you are indeed controlling grammar.  Congrats, New York.  You've made, at least in a sense, one of the Tuscon shooter's weird ideas into reality.

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