where’s tim the language guy?

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Thursday, 30 March 2006

In this story about Cynthia McKinney (aside: if you don’t know who McKinney is, if she were on the ballot running against John Ford, rational people might vote for Ford) the Georgia Representative uses an odd meaning of the same word three times.

“I was rushing to my meeting when a white police officer yelled to me. He approached me, bodyblocked me, physically touching me. I used my arm to get him off of me. I told him not to touch me several times. He asked for my ID and I showed it to him. He then let me go and I proceeded to my meeting and I assume that the Police Officer resumed his duties. I have counseled with the Sergeant-at-Arms and Acting Assistant Chief Thompson several times before and counseled with them again on today’s incident. I offered also to counsel with the offending police officer.”

Is this one of those unnecessarily stilted uses of the word, like when someone uses dialogue as a verb?  Or is she just plain wrong to use the word counsel like this?  Either way, it sounds silly.

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2 Responses to “where’s tim the language guy?”

  1. Tim W. Says:

    Hi Bob,
    Well, you asked…:)

    If you look at Merriam-Webster’s definition for the verb counsel, you’ll see that there are two senses for the word.

    The transitive form of counsel is used in the sense of giving advice:

    The therapist counseled the distraught couple.

    The intransitive form of counsel is used in the sense of consultation:

    The major counseled with his superiors before rendering a final decision.

    It looks to my amateur eyes that the author in your blockquote is using the intransitive sense of the verb counsel, which may come across as stilted in this context.

    Furthermore, the author surely could have benefited from the use of a thesaurus. If we look at Thesaurus.com, for example, there are lots of appropriate synonyms there that the author could use to provide some sentence variety and thus avoid stilted prose.

    I hope that helps.

    Kind regards,

  2. Lynn Sebourn Says:

    I’m more concerned about her description of the incident and of the officer as the “offending officer.” It is clear from her on description that the officer did not recognize her and did not see her ID.

    Her commments imply that if an unknown person enters one of the legislative buildings and intentionally bypasses the security screening,that the officers are to somehow stop the intruder without physically restraining them in any way, even by blocking them.

    Is this really the state of security she wants in the buildings she works? She should have thanked the officer for taking her security seriously.