That missing lack of magnanimity

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Chris Matthews on Hardball, 11/7/2013 (about 5:36 into the segment), complaining about Republican politicians complaining about Chris Christie:

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and then he- the other guy, Cruz- going at it, Cruz was doing the same thing, saying he didn't battle for principle,
because he allowed a- a state of New Jersey which has a lot of poor people, and working poor people in it,
to get Medicaid. I just don't see
the lack of chivalry, or what's the right word, magnanimity,
uh Michael, is amazing, Michael Steele, is amazingly missing here.

One for the misnegation archives, disfluent ranting section.


  1. dw said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

    Not a patch on George H W Bush's: "I hope I stand for anti-bigotry, anti-Semitism, anti-racism. This is what drives me."

  2. Ted said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

    I'm not convinced. I parse this as Matthews describing his belief that the salient aspects of the story he's told are that {the lack of chivalry . . . is amazing}, or {what's the right word, magnanimity . . . is amazingly missing here}.

    Not the most fluent of utterances, but I don't think it's a misnegation.

  3. Lazar said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    This may sound silly, but my intuition leads me to a "dyophysite" interpretation – that "magnanimity" is retroactively reanalyzed and really fills two different roles.

    When he says, "the lack of chivalry, or what's the right word, magnanimity," it does seem to me that the first phrase progresses from the first, and that what's basically being said is "the lack of chivalry or magnanimity". But crucially, he's put a little bit of distance between "chivalry" and "magnanimity" with those intervening words and pauses. So I think he takes this newly introduced word, "magnanimity", and starts making a new sentence with it: when he says, "magnanimity, […], is amazingly missing here," it seems to me that magnanimity is the subject, and that the stuff about a lack of chivalry is essentially forgotten. You could say I'm being overly charitable, but it just doesn't feel to me like "the lack of chivalry" and "is amazingly missing here" are part of the same sentence, even though "magnanimity" somehow manages to feel associated with both.

  4. Lazar said,

    November 8, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

    (Sorry, my first "first" should read "second" there.)

  5. languagehat said,

    November 9, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    I agree with both Ted and Lazar.

  6. NQA2 said,

    July 10, 2014 @ 7:37 pm

    Has anybody studied whether there is some source language besides English where the go and be verbs are used in this way? Latin and Spanish both have something that is nearly similar.

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