Post Your Opinion
As You Like It
by I. M. Owen

As: SOME MONTHS ago Lukin Robinson asked me to denounce what might be called the redundant as. That's when a sentence begins, say, As talented as he is.... or As much as I like her...; the first as in each example is totally unnecessary and meaningless. I agreed that this was a frequent irritant, and decided to watch for occurrences in print or manuscript. Strangely, I haven't run across any since. Can it be that this misuse is going out of fashion? Very much in fashion in current journalistic writing is a senseless use of the perfectly good phrase as such. Here's an example of its legitimate use, from Anthony Trollope: Brooke Burgess was a clerk in the office of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in London, and as such had to do with things very solemn, grave, and almost melancholy. Here, obviously, such stands for "a clerk in the office" et seq. Now look at these examples, taken from The Outsider, Hubert Bauch's translation of Michel Vastel's Trudeau le Quebecois, which I'm reading in proof for future review. As far as accuracy goes (which is pretty far), it's mostly a good translation, but Bauch can't resist sprinkling it with journalistic mannerisms of the kind that arouse my ugliest passions, and for which there is no equivalent in the original. I quote two examples. On the political level, the federal Liberals began seeking a rapprochement with their provincial cousins. The objective was to avoid frictions within the federalist camp before the coming referendum campaign. "Our role was to make sure that there wouldn't be another squabble like the airline pilots business. That and to take advantage of whatever opportunities pre, sented themselves." As such, Trudeau's first reaction to the introduction of Bill 101 was to rush to the barricades. With the exception of a few diehard loyalists like Gerard Pelletier and Marc Lalonde, it was mostly anglo? Montrealers and the Toronto elite who still fawned over him. As such he realized that he would have to refurbish his intellectual wardrobe. In the first quotation, as such represents the adverb ainsi, "thus," which would have been a precise translation. In the second, the French says pourtant, "moreover" ?? which conveys quite a different meaning: it signals a new point, not one arising from the previous sentence. FORMER: You may remember that I've complained about the journalistic habit of mindlessly inserting former before the office or occupation of someone who is now doing other things, as in he entered the cabinet of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau ?? the point being that former prime ministers don't have cabinets. I remarked to a magazine editor a few months ago that I expected any day to come across a reference to former Queen Victoria. This fantasy of mine has been outdone by Bauch in his translation of Vastel. Near the end of the book Vastel refers to Julian the Apostate: "cet empereur romain subit l'influence do neo?platonisme." Sure enough, in Bauch's hands this becomes: This former Roman emperor came under the influence of neo?Platonism. Something to occupy his mind in his retirement, no doubt. And the other day I found in a typescript the statement that the Toronto law firm of Lang Michener was founded by former governor general Roland Michener. Well, it wasn't, of course. I changed it to a future governor general, Roland Michener. BACK TO BACK: The Globe and Mail for August I reported the first back?to?back declines in monthly output in eight years taking place in April and May. And two days before that someone on "The National:' reporting the calling of the Ontario provincial election, said that if the Peterson government won it would mean the first back?to? back Liberal electoral victories in 53 years. I've been wondering about this phrase for some time, noticing it spreading from the sports pages to the rest of the news. What's the image here? Why back to back rather than front to front, back to front, front to back? Or, I timidly suggest, successive, consecutive, in a row? SOVEREIGNTY'S ADVOCATES: The Globe and Mail has decided that these are called sovereigntists, a sign of the steady hardening of its insensitivity to the English language. To the basic noun sovereign we add the suffix ?ty, "indicating state, condition, or quality" (Collins), or the suffix ?ist, meaning "a person who advocates" (also Collins). Hence, sovereignty, sovereignist. There's no such suffix as ?tist. Or shall we start talking about socialtists, communtists, and individualtists?

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