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Emotive Conjugations

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 26 Nov 2015, 20:52

This form of word play is reputed to have been introduced first by Betrand Russell on the radio program The Brains Trust. One of his examples was

I am firm, You are obstinate, He is a pig-headed fool.

Russell seems to have been (at least partly) making a serious point about loaded language but these "emotive conjugations" have since been popular for their humorous content. The New Statesman featured emotive conjugations in one of its weekly competitions. My favorite entry was

I am beautiful; you have quite good features; she isn't bad-looking, if you like that type.

Inspired by these I had a go at writing some, with the following results.

        I pay attention to detail; you are a little finicky, if you don't mind my saying; she is a pedantic monster.

        I employ a light touch; you are occasionally rather lax; she is negligent.

        I enjoy social drinking; have you ever thought of talking to your doctor? She is an alcohol abuser.

        I am a scholar; you have read widely; she will believe anything.

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Me in a rare cheerful mood

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With regard to a previous line manager:

I have a laissez-faire management style; you missed our monthly catch-up meeting, again; he actually still works here?

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I am a Poet; you write verses; some of her doggerel is quite amusing.

Me in a rare cheerful mood

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It is worth copy 'n' pasting part of the Wikipedia entry for emotive conjugation, in particular:

Bernard Woolley in the BBC television series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister:

It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it?
I have an independent mind, you are eccentric, he is round the twist.

That's another of those irregular verbs, isn't it?
I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he's being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.