Friday, October 3, 2008

The Palin Challenge

Since our masthead boasts that we “sometimes reminisce about diagramming sentences,” I thought when I came across an article by Kitty Burns Florey that outlines the perils of trying to diagram the classic Palin utterance that has become the hall- and mintmark of the vice-presidential candidate, that it was something to be shared here.

One really needs to read Ms Florey's article to get the background, but since she clearly asked for help at one point, it seems a worthwhile project to see if anyone has ideas of how to crack the Palin Challenge.

From Ms Florey:
Other Palinisms are not so tractable. From the Charlie Gibson interview:

I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people.

I didn't stop to marvel at the mad thrusting of that pet political watchword "families" into the text. I just rolled up my sleeves and attempted to bring order out of the chaos:

I had to give up. This sentence is not for diagramming lightweights. If there's anyone out there who can kick this sucker into line, I'd be delighted to hear from you. To me, it's not English—it's a collection of words strung together to elicit a reaction, floating ands and prepositional phrases ("with that vote of the American people") be damned. It requires not a diagram but a selection of push buttons.

There you have it. Anyone who thinks he or she is up to the Palin Challenge is welcome to take a shot at it. Or, if anyone feels the urge to try to diagram any of Palin's other sentences, feel free. Who knows, it might become a growth industry.