15 August 2005

Grammar issue

The difference between noun and adjectival forms of words escapes far too many people, it seems.

Working through a back issue of the New Yorker, there’s a quote from
Elizabeth Dole, the senator from N. Carolina, complaing about the
“liberal Democrat agenda.”  Democratic is the word, Libby.  Democratic.  See, “Democratic” is the adjectival form, used when we
modify nouns like “agenda” and “party.”  Democratic agenda. 
Democratic party.  But “Democrat(s)” when we talk about the actual
people.  “The Democrats are a political party.”

Would you say “This is the America agenda”?  Or, “The America
people are lovers of freedom”?  Clearly not, unless your English
was quite bad.

I have this feeling that this is being done because it somehow seems
derisive in the eyes of Republicans who use the noun as an adjective, as if
not using the correct form demeans the Democrats somehow.  Whatever
the reason, it just makes the users sound like ignorant,
grammar-challenged rubes. 

Same goes for “Episcopal” (adj.) and “Episcopalian” (noun). 
And “organization” (noun) and “organizational” (adj.).  And a
whole host of others.

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6 Responses to “Grammar issue”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Well, I

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Oops. Encoding issues, rather:

    Well, I’��d think it was because <em>Democratic</em> (proper) was being avoided consciously because of inevitable association with <em>democratic</em> (common). So, yes, the nominal form <em>Démocrat</em> is used, rather as the first member of a nominal compound <em>Dèmocrat-agénda</em>.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Oh, well. My apologies!

  4. PP Says:

    Perhaps she doesn’t want her listeners to confuse the political party with the idea of democracy. ;-0
    Good to see you back.

  5. Nate Says:

    Well, excpet that “republican” is also a term of general descriptive use, to describe a representative form of government. “The form of the American government is republican.” Small-d democracy refers to the basis on which we decide who is being represented in that government. Thus we have a democratic republic.

    I still think this is done out of derisiveness (listen to Rep. statements on TV or radio, and the spit the large-D word out). But they just sound dumb.

  6. PP Says:

    of course it is derisive….
    Do you know the origin of the naming of the parties in question? Is it becasue they espoused either a republican system or a democratic system (like the federalists and anti federalists), or did it come from somewhere else?
    Imagine if the Progressives had become a major party. The opposite party would be the “regressives”???? Vote for feudalism in 2008!