Against or for

Passed on by Wipe Out Homophobia, this editorial cartoon by Dave Simpson of the Tulsa Tribune:

An argument that’s been made by many people on other occasions, in various formulations.

Point of linguistic interest: the formulaic expression in “We’re just saying, is all”, which received scrutiny by Mark Liberman on Language Log and Ben Zimmer on Word Routes, because of its appearance in the television show Downton Abbey. Ben:

“Downton Abbey”: Tracking the Anachronisms (February 10, 2012)

“I’m just sayin’.” (Episode 1, late 1916) If this line from Ethel the maid sounds distinctly modern, that’s because it is. As Mark Liberman recently explained on Language Log, the contemporary use of “I’m just saying” to defuse a potentially offensive remark only begins to appear in the latter half of the 20th century. It’s possible to find examples of “I’m just saying” followed by a complement, as in “I’m just saying (something)” or “I’m just saying (that such-and-such is the case). But the defusing style appears on its own without a complement, and that developed much later than 1916.


One Response to “Against or for”

  1. the ridger Says:

    Most of us don’t get annoyed when the people in “Merlin” or “Robin Hood” or “Ivanhoe” or “The Scarlet Pimpernel” say something that only surfaced in English centuries – let alone 70 years – later than their time period. (Certainly some of us do.) I wonder if it’s because “Downton Abbey” is so close to us temporally that we notice it more? (Or is that even true?)

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