Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A TUESDAY BONUS FROM THE GRAMMAR AND LINGUISTICS DESK:  The Language Log fills in the blank -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain _________ Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


  1. http://www.jeffersonhour.org/  On a somewhat related note, anybody else here listen to the Jefferson Hour?

  2. Robin9:21 AM

    My mind is blown.

  3. Professor Jeff10:27 AM

    John Adams: Mr. Jefferson? It so happens that the word is UN-alienable, not IN-alienable.
    Thomas Jefferson: I'm sorry, Mr. Adams, but "Inalienable" is correct.
    John Adams: I happen to be a Harvard graduate, Mr. Jefferson.
    Thomas Jefferson: Well, I attended William & Mary.
    Hancock: Mr. Jefferson, will you concede to Mr. Adams' request?
    Thomas Jefferson: No, sir, I will not.
    John Adams: Oh, very well, I withdraw it!
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Oh, good for you, John!

  4. Jordan11:18 AM

    It was "unalienable" when I had to memorize it in fourth grade, therefore that is the correct answer.

  5. Marsha12:07 PM

    You beat me to it!

  6. ChinMusic12:12 PM

    Doesn't matter what the modern usage is, the original words matter.  Otherwise, what is the point of memorizing them or quoting them?  It would be enough to recall the gist of it.  To borrow a line from Toby Zeigler, "No, if I'm going to make you sit through this preposterous exercise, we're going to get the [words] of the damn [Declaration of Independence] right."

  7. West Wing quotes always win.

  8. In 7th grade, I got into an argument with my civics teacher about this. She insisted it was inalienable, but I was positive it was unalienable. She also said unalienable wasn't a word, so I got docked the point or two. It must've meant the difference between an A and a B because I still remember how mad I was about it. I brought in reference texts the next day, but she wouldn't budge.

  9. Joseph J. Finn8:38 PM

    When in doubt, take John Adams over Jefferson, is all I'm saying.