February 28th, 2008

ozarque figure

Linguistics; political language; Ozark English...

I was thinking last night about the question interactiveleaf asked in a comment, about the role Bill Clinton has been filling in Senator Clinton's presidential campaign, and thinking that I might respond by explaining that he desperately wants for her to win. And it occurred to me that that Ozark English clause lets me make a very important distinction. It doesn't mean at all the same thing as "he desperately wants her to win," with the "for" deleted "for stylistic reasons," or -- as any number of purists would insist -- deleted because keeping the "for" is a "grammar error."

In Ozark English "He desperately wants for her to win" means "He desperately wants it to come to pass that she wins." It means that he wants that of Providence. Why? Because as he perceives it, that outcome is so self-evidently the right one, the perfect one, the one that represents a harmonious and balanced and elegant state of the universe. It is, as he perceives it, so self-evidently what should happen.

"He desperately wants her to win" is quite different. "He desperately wants her to win" means that he wants the win to be achieved by Senator Clinton as a result of her own efforts.

And that -- in my opinion -- is the source of the problem. When he is the one running for an office, he wants the win to be the result of his own efforts, so that he can take full credit for it. If Providence wants to lend a hand, he knows that can't be helped; but he'd rather Providence would butt out and let him run things himself.