Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dreams we gottem

For presidential hopefuls, simpler language resonates
Trump tops GOP field while talking to voters at fourth-grade level
I'm surprised by this, though: The article quotes Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor, which apparently "analyzes trends and language" as saying, “Good communication is good communication. . . . ‘I’ve got a Dream,’ all those great speeches are nice, and direct. They use words people understand. They give a big message, but they’re not grandiose.”

When I first came to the US, 30 years ago, almost no-one said "I've got [a thing]." They said, "I have [a thing]." It was diagnostic of British English versus American English. I've noticed "I've got" becoming more popular among American speakers over the years and it's now unremarkable. But, of course, Dr. King didn't say, "I've got a dream," he said "I have a dream," like a normal American of the time period. 

In fact, with a thing like a dream, which you "have" by imagining it, rather than by possessing it, "have" makes more sense than "got".  You'd certainly say "I had a dream last night" rather than "I had gotten a dream last night."  (Or "I had got a dream last night", since British English speakers don't conjugate "got".)

It's really strange to see an expert in communication translate such a famous line into a modern idiom so unconsciously. Either that, or he wasn't talking about Martin Luther King but referring to the song from Tangled (2010) which uses the modern phrase!


Paul JJ Payack said...

We first Analyzed "I Have a Dream" more than a dozen years ago and our results have been widely published.

"I've got a dream" or "I have got a dream" are both inelegant and tortuous to actually pronounce.

I, too, have a problem with 'got'. However, if that's what I said then I own it.


Lyle Hopwood said...

It sounds like the writer spoke to you on the phone and may have misquoted you.


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