Bench Memos

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Re: A Judge of Latinicity of Wisdom of Grammar?


Ed’s post discusses something that nagged at me too–but since Spanish was never one of my languages I gave it no real thought when I first saw Sotomayor’s remark that it “do[es] not have adjectives.”  Come to think of it, though, what the heck is the word “Española” in the title “Diccionario de la Lengua Española” except the Spanish adjective “Spanish”?

What hit me when I saw Sotomayor boasting about her care about her writing was that she still needed to do some work.  After all, “I blister,” she says, when she sees writing errors.  Didn’t she mean “I bristle”?  That would be a standard metaphor for what she is trying to say, while “blister” is either a metaphorical stumble or the really daring effort of a supremely confident writer.  I vote for “stumble.”

Here’s why: Sotomayor’s speech that became a law review article, “A Latina Judge’s Voice,” is riddled with bad writing: misspelled proper names she should have checked, at least one subject-verb disagreement (see my “[sic]” markings in this post last night), and, in general, really clunky prose.  She writes sentences that begin with a thought and trail off without saying much of anything after all, or that double back and contradict themselves.  It’s bad enough that I’m almost willing to believe that the lecture was, after all, “unscripted,” then transcribed by some Berkeley law student for publication.  But pride in what she had said should at least have led Sotomayor to go over a proof text with care before it appeared in print.  If she didn’t, shame on her.  If she did, well, shame on her.


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