Jan 21, 2009

because grammar matters

Put that modifier in the proper place. Or else:
After the flub heard around the world, President Barack Obama has taken the oath of office. Again. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath to Obama on Wednesday night at the White House - a rare do-over. The surprise moment came in response to Tuesday's much-noticed stumble, when Roberts got the words of the oath a little off, which prompted Obama to do so, too....

It happened when Obama interrupted Roberts midway through the opening line, in which the president repeats his name and solemnly swears.

Next in the oath is the phrase " ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States." But Roberts rearranged the order of the words, not saying "faithfully" until after "president of the United States."
[via Glenn Reynolds]

5 comments:

Nentuaby said...

I fully expect to hear otherwise intelligent people tell me- for the rest of my life- that Obama was never actually president because he took the oath wrong. They will become evasive and then change the subject when I note this occurence to them.

ldn00b said...

Interesting. Note also that Roberts said it in correctly once, then corrected himself, but Obama repeated it the origional incorrect way.

Just wondering: Is it actually incorrect to put the adverb at the end? I know it's not the origional text of the oath, but is thier actually a gramatical rule that makes it incorect?

Jim Anderson said...

The general rule is to place the modifier as close to the modificand as possible. "I will faithfully execute," instead of "I will execute... the office of the president faithfully," since "faithfully" modifies "execute."

Ms.Kelly said...

I'm thinking you must have seen the Oaf of Office article by Pinker. In case you haven't, take a look. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/opinion/22pinker.html

Jim Anderson said...

But then there's also this.