Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Lord love the English language. It’s one of the most entertaining things in the Western world. John A Sagerian of Pasadena, TX, wrote a letter to the editor in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle (29 June 8, Page E2). A firm and righteous letter, it contains the following sentence:

If syndicated columnist EJ Dionne thinks the Supreme Court is cow-towing (sic) to the right wing, I want some of what he’s smoking.

Now I’m no Bill Safire (who is?). But I’m thinking that what Sagerian intended to use is kowtowing – a quite classic word of Chinese origin, brought into English in the very late 18th Century, that means to act in an obsequious or servile manner. More directly, “to touch the forehead to the ground while kneeling as an act of reverence, etc.”

Sagerian couldn’t have created such a wonderful case of miswording by intention. It has to be a psychological slip. Simply stated, I can’t visualize the Supremes ever using a stock trailer to deliver anything to conservatives, even cows.

If I were cow-towing to hard right-wingers or intransigent leftists, I’d certainly use the 2009 “Silver Star” pictured above by Wilson Trailers, available through Andres Trailer Sales in Alberta – it has exclusive aerodynamics that’d help me cut through the hot air generated by pundits of both parties.

Nevertheless, a tip of the Hatlo hat to Pasadena’s Mr Sagerian for the wonderful slip-of-the-keyboard, or pen or whatever.

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