Sir, – With regard to “The power of persona” (In My Own Write,
October 16), there is a line about charm in J.M. Barrie’s play What Every Woman
Knows: “If you have it, you don’t need to have anything else; and if you don’t
have it, it doesn’t much matter what else you have.” This is advice addressed to
women as to how to get their man.
That Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
is able to use this tactic successfully in the current geo-atomicpolitical arena
says a lot about the present effeteness of the Western mindset.
It is all
a painful reminder of the decadence in the statement a journalist here once
addressed to then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice: Rape us, Madame
Secretary! Thankfully, the homegrown response in Israel was promptly
And now our prime minister is standing firm, refusing to be
seduced.MIRIAM L. GAVARIN
Back to English
Sir, – Reader Judy
Goldin (“Hitting a nerve,” Letters, October 10) attests to cringing on hearing
the word “gotten,” calling it “awful.”
One man’s meat is another man’s
poison, and when it comes to taste in past participles it’s hard to argue.
However, if the reason for Goldin’s agony is a belief that “gotten” is an
Americanism, she is quite wrong.
Shakespeare famously writes: “He was
gotten in drink.” I’m sure that neither he nor Goldin would cringe on hearing
expressions such as “ill-gotten gains.”
In fact,“gotten” was a commonly
used past participle of “get” that was taken to America by early settlers and
preserved faithfully. It was then abandoned by the lazy British, whose
dictionaries had declared it to be “antiquated” by the beginning of the 20th
It was only because of the spread of US culture by Hollywood and
CNN that many Englishman were able to rediscover and enjoy the richness of their
ancient tongue or, in Goldin’s case, cringe.
Such is just one of the
lesser-known dangers of ethnocentricity.
– Since arriving from Britain in 1967 I have adopted American spelling and usage
when my books and articles are written for people unfamiliar with British
This has never been a problem and I fail to see why any
intelligent person should find it hard to make such an adjustment.
correspondence (“Hitting a nerve,” October 10, and “Ponds apart,” October 14)
sparked by reader Neville C. Goldrein’s letter (“Common tongue,” October 8)
misses the real point, one that I dealt with years ago in a halfhumorous
Jerusalem Post feature titled “The slaughter of the English language” (September
My article highlighted journalists’ and writers’ blunders that
neither Webster’s nor the Oxford English Dictionary condoned.
syntax, notably the linking of a main clause with an unrelated dependent clause,
was a typical example (e.g., “Born in Russia, her stage career later took her to
New York”). I also drew attention to bad grammar (“they arrived to” instead of
“at”) and to a tendency to confuse “whom” with “who” and write “lead” instead of
“led” and “laid” instead of “lay down.”
There were also common mistakes,
like the use of “forego’ instead of “forgo” and “fulsome” instead of
There is simply no excuse for slovenly English, whichever form
of the language one speaks and writes.
GABRIEL A. SIVAN
I duno wot all the fuss is abowt. English, American, it all cums owt in the
I grew up with school English in addition to the following: I’m off
for a ball of chalk up the frog and toad, then into the rubadub for a pig’s
If you can understand that, you must have been raised in the best
part of London, like wot I woz.
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