October 18: Offensive charm

That 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.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Offensive charm
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 dismissive.
And now our prime minister is standing firm, refusing to be seduced.
MIRIAM L. GAVARIN Jerusalem 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 century.
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.DANIEL MARKS Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – 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 English.
This has never been a problem and I fail to see why any intelligent person should find it hard to make such an adjustment.
The 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 11, 1989).
My article highlighted journalists’ and writers’ blunders that neither Webster’s nor the Oxford English Dictionary condoned.
Faulty 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 “fervent.”
There is simply no excuse for slovenly English, whichever form of the language one speaks and writes.GABRIEL A. SIVAN Jerusalem
Sir, – I duno wot all the fuss is abowt. English, American, it all cums owt in the wosh.
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 ear.
If you can understand that, you must have been raised in the best part of London, like wot I woz.MARTIN LEWIS Hod Hasharon