Tales from the Trail

Presidential apology in slang uses S word

President Barack Obama apologized for the Daschle debacle by saying “I screwed up” which raises a question of language — did the leader of the free world use a bad word or not?

Some grown adults would probably not use that S word when talking to their parents and some would likely chastise their children for using it in front of them.

OBAMA/GREGGThe word probably rates a PG and fits somewhere between damn and the four-letter word beginning with F.

Consulting dictionary.com the term ”screw up” is listed as slang meaning to make a mess of an undertaking.  The word becomes vulgar slang if  used in a phrase with the word “around” after it and takes on more of the meaning of the F word.

By that definition it appears the term “screwed up” is just slang after all and not a profanity which is defined as “abusive, vulgar or irreverent language.”

Hawaiian ‘shaka’ greeting comes natural to Obama

USA-OBAMA/KAILUA, HI – Barack Obama may be the first U.S. president who can successfully pull off the shaka, a Hawaiian greeting Hawaiians say has various meanings, from “hang loose” and “cool” to “thanks.”
The hand gesture, also a common greeting in surfer culture, consists of curling the three middle fingers and extending the thumb and little finger.
The president-elect, looking uber-cool with his White Sox baseball cap on backwards, flipped the shaka to a crowd of about 30 people as he left a gym on a Marine Corps base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where he is vacationing.
Obama, born and largely raised on Oahu, then walked over to greet the crowd, which had waited through a brief cloudburst to see him. Righting his baseball cap as he walked, he shook hands before posing with four babies.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

from MacroScope:

Sssh. Don’t say stimulus

William Safire, the language maven whose musings on how we use words have graced The New York Times and other newspapers for decades, has discovered something about the current crisis. Not for the first time, politicians are scrambling to avoid using common words that might get too close to the truth.

This time the target is the economy, specifically what needs to be done about it. In a column, Safire notes that some Democrats, notably the incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are steering away from using the world "stimulus" when referring to efforts to, er, stimulate the economy. "Recovery" is being used instead. As in, recovery plan.

Who could argue with that? Republicans, apparently. According to Safire, they are favouring "spending", presumably as in spend, spend, tax, tax etc.