Home‎ > ‎

Blair on Iraq

The Blair Watch Project
 
 

Whatever the outcome or historical influence of the navel-gazing rumination that is the Iraq Enquiry, lovers of the English language can have had no more a happy hunting ground than watching or listening to the linguistic sparring of all sides.

In a process which has stated itself to be both forensic and lucid by nature, those involved on all sides have used the words ‘porous’,  ‘fire-break’, ‘stabilizastion’,  ‘failed-state situations’,  'de-Ba'athification' and other semantic delights.

However the situation might be resolved, I doubt anyone who might have appeared to date, including Mr Blair, has demonstrated the verbal panache of Sir Humphrey Appleby, whose pithy reflections from the very last episode of the much missed ‘Yes Prime Minister’, seem to still have acute resonance:

“Sir Humphrey: ‘Unfortunately, although the answer was indeed clear, simple, and straightforward, there is some difficulty in justifiably assigning to it the fourth of the epithets you applied to the statement, inasmuch as the precise correlation between the information you communicated and the facts, insofar as they can be determined and demonstrated, is such as to cause epistemological problems, of sufficient magnitude as to lay upon the logical and semantic resources of the English language a heavier burden than they can reasonably be expected to bear.’

Hacker: ‘Epistemological — what are you talking about?’

Sir Humphrey: ’You told a lie.’

Hacker: ‘A lie?’

Sir Humphrey: ‘A lie.’

Hacker: ‘What do you mean, a lie?’

Sir Humphrey:’ I mean you…lied. Yes, I know this is a difficult concept to get across to a politician. You…ah yes, you did not tell the truth.’”

(From Yes Prime Minister, The Tangled Web).

Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, where are you when we need you?

 

Whatever the outcome or historical influence of the navel-gazing rumination that is the Iraq Enquiry, lovers of the English language can have had no more a happy hunting ground than watching or listening to the linguistic sparring of all sides.

In a process which has stated itself to be both forensic and lucid by nature, those involved on all sides have used the words ‘porous’,  ‘fire-break’, ‘stabilizastion’,  ‘failed-state situations’,  and other semantic delights.

However the situation might be resolved, I doubt anyone who might have appeared to date, including Mr Blair, has demonstrated the verbal panache of Sir Humphrey Appleby, whose pithy reflections from the very last episode of the much missed ‘Yes Prime Minister’, seem to still have acute resonance:

“Sir Humphrey: ‘Unfortunately, although the answer was indeed clear, simple, and straightforward, there is some difficulty in justifiably assigning to it the fourth of the epithets you applied to the statement, inasmuch as the precise correlation between the information you communicated and the facts, insofar as they can be determined and demonstrated, is such as to cause epistemological problems, of sufficient magnitude as to lay upon the logical and semantic resources of the English language a heavier burden than they can reasonably be expected to bear.’

Hacker: ‘Epistemological — what are you talking about?’

Sir Humphrey: ’You told a lie.’

Hacker: ‘A lie?’

Sir Humphrey: ‘A lie.’

Hacker: ‘What do you mean, a lie?’

Sir Humphrey:’ I mean you…lied. Yes, I know this is a difficult concept to get across to a politician. You…ah yes, you did not tell the truth.’”

(From Yes Prime Minister, The Tangled Web).

Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, where are you when we need you?

 

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/letters-to-the-editor/Mondays-Letters-Why-the-words.6029873.jp

Comments