The days of eloquence, elegance and civility are now officially over …

A friend sent me a very interesting New York times article (How to Listen to Donald Trump passengers Every Day for Years) on the weekend. It was written by John McWhorter, who is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia.

He talked about Trump’s “choppy, rambling, self-expression” and went on to explain that it’s “not so exotic” and that “a great many thoroughly intelligent people talk more like Donald Trump than they might know.” McWhorter calls it “talking” rather than “speaking” and his explanation of the difference between the two is fascinating.

But it was when he said that it’s been a long time coming that my interest was really piqued:

“What’s new,” he wrote, “is that someone who talks like this in public has become the president of the United States.” But “it was only a matter of time” because “America’s relationship to language has become more informal by the decade since the 1960’s, just as it has to dress, sexual matters, culinary habits, dance and much else.”

Of course, McWhorter is absolutely right.

Back in the dark ages when I was a child women never wore pants, they were always in dresses, suits or skirt and sweater “sets.” My mother wore a hat and gloves to go to lunch with her friends. For that matter, I had little white leather wrist-length gloves.

The first time I was ever on an airplane was when I was nine years old and went on a holiday with my parents. All the men, including my father, wore suits with white shirts and ties. The women looked just like the women in the photo; and even I had a dress on.

We dressed for the occasion. These days we “undress” for it.

Nowadays anything goes — including rubber flip-flops and bathing suits under thigh-high sheer gauzy slip dresses and baggy shorts and T-shirts for the guys. God forbid anyone should have to waste even a couple of minutes changing before heading to the beach.

When I first started to work there was no such thing as “casual” days. Jeans were absolutely forbidden. I never called any of my bosses by their first name, it simply wasn’t done; and, frankly, it would never have entered anyone’s mind.

Everyone said “please” and “thank you.” Men held doors open for women. Parents, teachers, elders were respected. We didn’t “talk back.”

And then it all started to go to hell in a hand basket.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for informality and comfort. But I do sometimes think we’ve gone too far. The Trump era, however, has taken it to notches unknown. We’re really in for it now.

Welcome to the age of incoherence, boors and lies.

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “The days of eloquence, elegance and civility are now officially over …

  1. Oh how true! I was in library yesterday and saw a middle aged couple dressed in bathing suits and cover ups! Where were they Going? It was a cold windy day for Miami…with wind gusts and tornados for which we received warnings! There was little sun out.

    I very much doubt if they were in their home town, they would have dressed so ridiculously. The lack of respect for time and place is beyond me! Do people not see the difference from an island resort and a working city? I could go on and on…and I understand the difference between dressing for cold climates and hot,humid climates but I do not see the library surrounded by surf and sand or the Wynwood walls..the disrespect for the place was shocking to me!

    Yes, we are in for a downward slide…and it is up to the individual to use some common sense….if this is still possible. Xoxo Barb

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. What happened is that we threw the rule book out and with it self-respect. In an age of supposed awareness, what is really occuring is that everyone lives in their own
    little bubble and now to add insult to injury we have “alternate facts”. What next?

  3. I believe that Trump’s inarticulate, immature and volatile speech is part of the reason people are so critical of his supporters. Though I don’t agree, there is indeed a perception out there that all his followers are uneducated and uninformed because that is how Trump comes across. So if Americans question the fabric of his voters, it stands to reason that Trump’s tendency to talk, not speak, will influence how foreign governments will perceive all Americans. That’s a concern.

    On the subject of dress, I remember being a teenager who fought with my mother to let me wear pants to school. Who knew the pendulum would swing to such an extreme?

    • You make an interesting point about he influences how people judge his supporters. And of course they aren’t all uneducated and uninformed, which is really depressing. I had similar fights with my mother (lol). Never thought we’d devolve this badly.

  4. Not forgetting those who go shopping on the high street in their PJ’s Fransi and people who who turn up to address a nation and whoever else tunes in dressed in an overcoat – it takes all sorts to make world.

    • It sure does take all kinds Chris. I wonder if there’ll ever be some kind of order and decorum restored or if it will continue to go downhill from here.

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