Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally


Posted by Neal on March 13, 2008

They played a clip on NPR yesterday of Franklin Roosevelt’s first fireside chat, which had taken place exactly 71 years earlier, March 12, 1933. At the end of the address he said:

We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work.

A 71-year-old right-node wrapping (aka “Friends in Low Places” coordination). To refresh the memory: an RNW has the form

A and B C D

but means the same thing as “A C and B C D” — not, as you’d expect in a completely parallel coordinate structure, “A C D and B C D”. In this case:

  • A = support
  • B = make
  • C = it
  • D = work

and the meaning is “support it and make it work”, not “support it work and make it work”.

One other thing I noticed in the excerpt on NPR was that Roosevelt said:

You people must have faith.

I guess you people hadn’t acquired the strong connotations of reprimand, disapproval, or prejudice that it does today. (Or maybe it had, and that’s the tone FDR wanted to take, but that doesn’t seem very likely, given that FDR was trying to encourage the citizenry.) I wonder when that happened?

3 Responses to “FDR RNW”

  1. The Ridger said

    Hi – I’m tagging you with a meme which you are (of course) totally free to ignore if you prefer.

  2. […] FDIC. But I later remembered that they’d played that same clip on an episode in 2008, and I blogged about it then. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  3. […] Comments Glen on A Couple More RNWsA Couple More RNWs « Literal-Minded on FDR RNWBen on Guest Post: Reflections on the Words Love and HateErik Zyman on Guest Post: Reflections […]

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