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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grammar by Elvis

"Bentley said to Craig, 'Let him have it Chris.'
They still don't know today what he meant by this."

So begins Elvis Costello's "Let Him Dangle." The song, from the CD "Spike," tells the story of Eric Bentley and Chris Craig. Some years back, these two murdered a man named Sidney Miles--specifically, Craig killed Miles, following Bentley's command, cited above. At his trial, though, Bentley. who had already been placed under arrest at moment of the shooting, claimed that, when he said, "Let him have it," he meant, "Give him the gun. Surrender." The jury didn't buy that story, though: They found Bentley guilty of murder, and he was subsequently executed.

We cite the above story and its lyrical interpretation when we explain to our students the importance of unambiguous pronouns. It's not just good grammar; it could be a matter of life and death.

1 comment:

  1. See Peter Medak's film, with Tom Courtenay & Christopher Eccleston... or go alone.