Sunday, May 18, 2014

Say That Again

In a post on antibiotics research from Megan McArdle we get this:

There’s a wonderful Robert F. Kennedy quote that is very popular at commencements: “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

She goes on to be rather skeptical of RFK's quote, but she should also question the provenance.  It's actually a paraphrase of George Bernard Shaw from Back To Methuselah:

I hear you say "Why?" Always "Why?" You see things; and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were; and I say "Why not?"

The line, by the way, is spoken by the Serpent in the Garden Of Eden. But this is Shaw's Serpent, not the Bible's, and he gets most of the best lines.

While we're at it, here's the first sentence of documentary film review in The Hollywood Reporter.

The subjects of A People Uncounted are the Roma, better known as Gypsies, who have suffered endless prejudice, poverty and genocide over the centuries.

Since the Roma are still around, I'm guessing they've suffered from attempted genocide.

PS Genocide is a modern term, and some would define it as including killing or harming part of a group.  I'm sorry, but what's the point of the word, then?  Suicide is killing yourself, not hurting yourself or cutting off a finger.  Homicide is killing another, not winging someone.  If there's no death, you've got at most attempted suicide or homicide.  Genocide should be destroying a race, or some identifiable group, or nothing.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

English is wonderful due largely to its lack of precision. Rules of English were (Literally?) made to be broken. Yes Genocide in common usage means actual elimination of a group or an attempt at the same. Sale means an exchange of goods for financial compensation or it means an exchange of goods for less than the standard retail price. (Obviously not comparing pogroms and bargains here just language)

5:06 AM, May 18, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

How much *can* you get a pogrom for these days?

(This comment not sanctioned by anyone on this blog. Further sanctions forthcoming.)

9:13 AM, May 18, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sanction means to allow something. Sanctions mean to disallow something.

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