Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm just humbled that you'd read this post....

I was listening to Judge Sonia Sotomayor giving a speech after Pres Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court. One of the first things she said was that she was "humbled" to be nominated. What?? This is a common cliché used by politicians, awardees, etc. It must stop because it makes them sound stupid and uneducated.

According to Webster's Dictionary:

Main Entry: humbled
Function: transitive verb
Date: 14th century
1 : to make humble in spirit or manner 2 : to destroy the power, independence, or prestige of

And, because Webster's can't be bothered to define a word without using that same word in the definition, we must look up "humble" as well:

Main Entry: hum·ble
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin humilis low, humble, from humus earth; akin to Greek chthōn earth, chamai on the ground
Date: 13th century
1: not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive2: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission 3 a: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale : insignificant, unpretentious b: not costly or luxurious

So Sotomayor was saying that receiving this awesome appointment -- surely the dream of judges throughout the country -- has made her "not arrogant?" Or has made her "insignificant?" Or has destroyed her power and prestige??? This makes absolutely no sense. I can be humbled by having a blatant error or embarrassing secret made public. I can be humbled by losing everything and having to start over. However, I cannot be humbled by being told how awesome I am. Neither can she.

I understand what she was trying to say. But if this woman is possibly going to be writing decisions that will stand for centuries and will be interpreted, reinterpreted and relied upon for the most important matters, she needs to learn to use the English language properly. Maybe if someone points this out to her, she will be humbled.

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