The recent flurry of posts on feel as a propositional attitude verb has, I now feel, buried the lede. Kids today may have started using "feel like S" with increasingly frequency in recent years. But their elders have apparently been abandoning "feel that S" ever since the middle of the 20th century.
In a NYT Op-Ed a few days ago, Molly Worthen identified as "a broad cultural contagion" the "reflex to hedge every statement as a feeling or a hunch", and urged us instead to "think, believe or reckon". I countered that emotion has largely been bleached out of feel used with sentential complements — "feel that SENTENCE" has long been a standard way to present SENTENCE as the result of a rational evaluation of evidence. (See "Feelings, beliefs, and thoughts", 5/1/2016) .
In support of that view, I gave some examples from biomedical research reports in the MEDLINE collection, starting in 1974, the first year available from that source. Today, I'll give some examples from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Following up on the issues raised yesterday in "Feelings, beliefs, and thoughts", it might be helpful to explore the etymology of the various verbs that people commonly use to express the epistemic status of their assertions. From their entries in the Online Etymological Dictionary, we'll learn that several common propositional attitude verbs have roots in sensation, motion and emotion, just as feel does.
In "Character amnesia in 1793-1794" (4/24/14), I described the so-called Flint Affair, which refers to James Flint (?1720-?), one of the first English persons to learn Chinese. For his audacity, Flint was imprisoned for three years by the imperial government, and two Chinese merchants who helped him write a petition to the emperor were executed.
Molly Worthen, "Stop Saying 'I Feel Like'", NYT 4/30/2016:
In American politics, few forces are more powerful than a voter’s vague intuition. “I support Donald Trump because I feel like he is a doer,” a senior at the University of South Carolina told Cosmopolitan. “Personally, I feel like Bernie Sanders is too idealistic,” a Yale student explained to a reporter in Florida. At a Ted Cruz rally in Wisconsin in April, a Cruz fan declared, “I feel like I can trust that he will keep his promises.”
These people don’t think, believe or reckon. They “feel like.” Listen for this phrase and you’ll hear it everywhere, inside and outside politics. This reflex to hedge every statement as a feeling or a hunch is most common among millennials. But I hear it almost as often among Generation Xers and my own colleagues in academia. As in so many things, the young are early carriers of a broad cultural contagion.
The Republican presidential campaign is getting apocalyptic. The Bloomberg News headline on a story by Ben Brody — "Boehner Uncorks on ‘Lucifer’ Cruz, Says He Wouldn’t Back Him in Fall" — led reader A.R. to wonder whether that "fall" is merely the November election, or rather the fall of
Him the Almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from th' Ethereal Skie
With hideous ruine and combustion down
To bottomless perdition
as John Milton put it.
Mike Miller received the text below via WeChat recently, where it seems to be making the rounds:
Gěi dàjiā jiǎng yīgè gǎnrén de gùshì: Yīgè qiāng kōng hé jī shè jī cǎn chǐ dú ē, túrán, chài yī líng diàn máo bīn qǐ, lí yuè miè chán…ránhòu jiù sǐle. Tài gǎnrénle…! Zhè gùshì jiào “yīgè wénmáng de bēi'āi”. Dàjiā wǎn'ān, míngtiān jiàn!
给大家讲一个感人的故事： 一个戗箜翮齑歙畿黪褫髑屙 ，突然，虿黟囹簟蟊豳綮，蠡瀹蠛躔…然后就死了。 太感人了…！ 这故事叫《一个文盲的悲哀》。大家晚安，明天见！
Let me tell everybody a touching story: A blah blah blah blah. Suddenly, blah blah blah, blah blah…. After that he died. This is so touching. This story is called "The sorrow of an illiterate". Good night, everybody. See you tomorrow.
VHM: Pinyin transcription and translation added by me.
Jordan Hoffman, "Mother's Day review — almost transcendentally terrible", The Guardian 4/28/2016:
One can’t deny, however, that this sort of badness – this transcendent, almost unearthly badness – isn’t oddly comforting.
Ted Cruz has gotten a lot of very creative grief for apparently messing up the re-enactment of a scene from the movie Hoosiers by referring to the height of a "basketball ring":
The question of whether tones are added to alphabet words used in Sinitic languages arose in the discussion that followed this post:
"Papi Jiang: PRC internet sensation" (4/25/16)