It is important to understand how language works, especially when ordering Chinese food or seducing a woman. As a professional writer, I have trained myself in the correct use of language, which is why I have never gotten sex when what I really wanted was foo yung kai nip.
But understanding language is not merely a matter of comprehending English, or Trinidadianese, or Wayne Chance. It is also a matter of understanding logic. For example, pseudo-intellectual religious believers — otherwise known as religious believers — argue that atheists contradict themselves by stating that "God does not exist", since the atheist has to admit the existence of God in order to say that He does not exist. The short answer to this is, "Corruption in the Government does not exist" or, more technically, "If x=politician and y=truth, then for every x there is little or no y".
Linguistic understanding, therefore, is necessary for understanding reality. Without this knowledge, you can be easily fooled by herbalists, politicians, and V-neck blouses. If Trevor Sayers says he can give you stamina, stamina, stamina, just hand him a dictionary and challenge him to find impotency. But, if you see a buxom woman in a low-cut blouse, don't ask "Are they real?"; and if you hear politicians talking about Section 34, don't ask, "Are they for real?"
They are definitely not, which is why Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed wrote a letter to CCN Group Head of News Dominic Kalipersad complaining about bias by TV6 and the Express. But, in his letter, Mohammed emphasised that he wasn't writing in an official capacity, but in his capacity as an "insignificant Muslim coolie".
Now this description poses some linguistic challenges. First, what is the head of this phrase? In linguistics, the "head" is the word from which the meaning and properties of the entire phrase are derived. So does Jamal mean that all Muslims are insignificant and coolie; or that all coolies are insignificant and Muslim; or did he mean that, once you are a Muslim coolie, you are insignificant? On the other hand, he could have been using the phrase as a listeme — i.e. a group of words that functions as one word. I believe this to be more likely, since a listeme has no head, and Jamal in Parliament last week stated that he has no brains. "I am stupid and I admit that openly," he said.
Perhaps this is why Jamal's ministerial colleague, Dr Fuad Khan, plans to change the country's laws to facilitate alternative medicine. Speaking at a conference last Saturday titled "The Future of Herbal Medicine", organised by the Indian High Commission, Khan stated that alternative medicine could work in tandem with clinical medicine, since the former also "treats the mind". In other words, people who believe in herbal cures should have their heads examined.
Linguistic logic is especially important when it comes to political analyses. Yet not even Winford James, who is a linguist, noticed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's admission last Monday that the PNM has never been corrupt and that the People's Partnership lied about Calder Hart in the 2010 general election. Mrs Persad-Bissessar made this revelation at a dinner to raise funds for the People's Partnership to lose the upcoming THA election, when she stated that there is absolutely no corruption in her Government. "They call names, they blame people, there's nothing I've seen evidence of," she told the audience, which was made up exclusively of persons unperturbed by Section 34.
Since no PNM politician, lackey, or hack has been convicted of any wrong-doing in the entire history of that party, then, according to Kamla, the People's National Movement has always been completely non-corrupt. To cite listemes such as "the Caroni Racing Complex" and the "DC-9 scandal" is no evidence of corruption, because nobody was convicted. Similarly, despite repeated promises from a.k.a. Anand Ramlogan SC, SA (Senior Counsel, Self Awarded) there is no evidence that former UDECoTT chairman Calder Hart engaged in any corrupt activities, that Juliana Pena was building a $30 million church with taxpayers' $30 million, or that Ken Julien siphoned many more millions from the University of Trinidad and Tobago and E-Teck. Even PNM leader Keith Rowley has said, "This country owes a debt of gratitude to Ken Julien"; and, if that debt is worth a few hundred million dollars, that is not proof of bobol.
On the other hand, Kamla now needs to explain why she fired Reshmi Ramnarine, Mary King and Herbert Volney. After all, there is no evidence that any of them engaged in any illegal activity, or else they would have been charged by the police. Moreover, Kamla can now accept campaign contributions from Ish and Steve since, thanks to Section 34, there is no evidence of corrupt activities against either man — at least, not in Trinidad and Tobago.
To all of which the appropriate linguistic response can only be, "Say what?"