Carpe Linguam

The CNN report
The CNN report | Source

The modern "submissiveness"

American English is one of the languages of my thought, and I am sensitive to the way it is used. Some contemporary uses perplex me and nonplus me with regard to human volition. Let us see a CNN report on the Libya assault.

For Smith, the rescue came too late. He had already succumbed to smoke inhalation by the time they arrived.

A tree might succumb to drought, a dam could yield to water. It would be dramatic narrative. Trees or dams are not animate. We humans do not focus on individual will in hunted animals, either.

The bull succumbed in 40 yards and yielded to the 400 grain Woodleigh bullet ... (Patience, endurance, and plain hard work, by PH Jofie Lamprecht).

A succumbing bull might kneel. A succumbing wild cat could lie down. A human might succumb to temptation. Well, you do not get physically overpowered to have the guilty pleasure of one hot chocolate extra in the afternoon. With regard to humans, the verb "to succumb" implies volitional surrender.

Overpowering factors induce different semantics. Privation or loss of postural control or even life do not allow a projection on willful relinquishment.

American Heritage entry on sacrifice
American Heritage entry on sacrifice | Source

The "sacrifice" of the Eleventh

Barack Obama spoke on the anniversary of September 11 attacks.

Most had never heard the name Al Qaeda. And yet, it’s because of their sacrifice that we’ve come together and dealt a crippling blow to the organization that brought evil to our shores, the President would say about the victims.

They will endure in the hearts of our nation, because through their sacrifice, they helped us make the America we are today — an America that has emerged even stronger.

We can look up "sacrifice" with the Heritage. An offering for the sake of something else, forfeiture, something sold at a financial loss — the baseball reference would not ring funny, either.

Taking the entire phrase, "their sacrifice", would there be anyone to imply the victims decided to check on the Boeings?

Etan Patz before his disappearance in 1979
Etan Patz before his disappearance in 1979 | Source

Personal "effectness"?

We're looking for human remains, clothing or other personal effects of Etan Patz, said New York police Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne in April 2012. The boy disappeared in 1979. He is not expected to be found alive.

I do understand the police try to avoid language that could be “open” or “revealing”. The word “effect” yet remains very close with “effectiveness”. Searching for a person, we may think about biological traces, or a similar phrase. We people usually make many of those, dead or alive.

Speaking American English or any other language, humans like to be effective. Already as kids, we learn plenty of skills. Traces after a person considered dead may not stand for such effectiveness.

There would be only "effectness" remaining ...

"Passer-by body" or "organization"?

Obviously, dictionaries are not ultimate authority. They are written by people and slogans happen to sneak within, as into the Collins to have set down a "member of the public" was "a member of the general population".

There are believably "bodies politic" and "executive organs", to cite on most renowned incorporations. However, the nation, the people ― are not organizations, bodies, or boards, and without those you cannot have members.

"General population" might be even comprehended as all humans in the world. Logically, to include police forces or special services in the species, reports on public unrest would become some generally "member-of-the-public thing", even if there is martial law.

Here, a member of the public saved Chris the sheep

The "opinion publique" became an invisible power to the mind of Napoleon, who yet was unable to cope with information as basic as temperatures in winter Russia.

In Communist times, a few people talking in a street might have been considered a political gathering. Today, I think the words "person", "citizen", "civilian" ― can work as they always have.

Naturally, nationality and professions matter in identity. The Ottawa Sun reported Chris's rescuer as an Australian, champion shearer Ian Elkins.

Alas, Tammy Ven Dange, chief executive of the Canberra RSPCA, said about the sheep:

"He's looking really good, he looks like a new man," ...

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Comments 4 comments

Chris Granquist 4 years ago

WELL stated.......although I had to go back and read his speech, I trust you when you say it was said one way and written another. "...their sacrifice..." FEH. No sacrifice was given, lives were taken away.

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teresapelka 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland Author

I don't actually care much for the scripts; my point is that if you fall victim to something, telling you that was you wanted (sacrifice in this sense could be only willful) sure couldn't make matters better.

Thanks for your comment :)

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MJFenn 4 years ago

Interesting article. As I recall, Pádraig Pearse in 1916 used the word 'sacrifice' to describe his vision of Irish republican unity.

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teresapelka 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland Author

The 'sacrifice' has a different meaning here; try Hickey,

' I have also TALKED TO men who have made sacrifices for this country, and they have expressed themselves as being very definitely opposed to these Bills, and particularly to the one under discussion now.'

The men were not deceased civilians unaware of what was going to happen. I didn't know about any scheming about the WTC, either.

I am not an advocate of sacrifice.

As for Ireland - my answering your comment here would derive from another hub - I think that the 'divide et impera' as by the British to have gone along the lines of religion to govern land, can be overcome in a free united state.

There is no need to go about all history. On the other hand, what do you choose to have? A Girard scape goat renamed a hero patriot?

Probably, there could be a referendum in Ireland on the will to unite before the vote in the North. I don't think this would be manipulative. It would be a human gesture for the sake of the thinking powers. :)

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    Teresa Pelka (teresapelka)18 Followers
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    A university master of arts, specialized in American English and psycholinguistics, inventor of a generative grammar method, translator

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