he was to sweep the streets of New York like a common vagrant
Do they really use vagrants for street-sweeping? That seems more like a Department of Sanitation job. Although maybe it's a cost-cutting technique, in which case I look forward to reading about the mayor's hobo-powered car.
"like a common janitor" did not have the same ring to it.
Do they really use vagrants for street-sweeping?
Kinda -- after welfare reform, aid recipients get work assignments (I'm unclear on the exact details) that seem to often involve non-professional-looking street-cleaning (i.e., walking through a park picking up garbage with a pointy stick, pushing a broom... things you don't see actual DoS employees doing.)
But "vagrants" are "homeless people", not "welfare recipients".
True -- I'm just guessing that's what the article was referring to.
This is the sort of task community service performers have always been put to around here. I think of my cases where getting community service was a victory for my client, and always remember that when I see it being performed. I'd assumed that it was being performed like a common vagrant because vagrancy is a misdemeanor, more likely to be prosecuted and thus draw community service, under a "broken-windows" regime.
Isn't the problem there the word "common"? Which isn't *really* being used to mean "frequent," but more to mean "low"?
Yes, that reverberation is real enough, even if the usage could be defended if most sweepers, far more commonly as it were, are vagrants rather than pop stars. A good writer wouldn't use it without meaning to, which leaves the question, was this usage, with its undertones, intentional?
Does it matter? I mean, the word *has* those connotations. Whether or not the person who wrote it was a good enough writer to consciously consider every connotation of his word choice, he picked that word and not another. Whether he did it on purpose or accidentally (unconsciously) is irrelevant; it means what it means.
I thought it was obvious that the writer meant "common" to mean "low"; any other interpretation seems pretty strained to me. But I'm not really sure what you guys are talking about.
I think intention matters, when we notice and react to a usage, and think about what it means, even if we can draw conclusions whichever way we decide.
Nah. It matters somewhat in interactions between individuals, but when we're talking about public statements, the statement is the statement. People can lie about their intentions, or they can fail to realize them. It happens all the time.
Nah. It matters somewhat in interactions between individuals, but when we're talking about public statements, the statement is the statement. People can lie about their intentions, or they can fail to realize them.
Or a word can mean different things to different people.
People can lie about their intentions, or they can fail to realize them. It happens all the time.
Sure, but making up our minds which it is matters when we are trying to decide how the statment got made, and therefore what it is.
I agree that you can analysis the impact on readers, and in the culture, which may be more interesting and important, without regard to intention.
but making up our minds which it is matters when we are trying to decide how the statment got made, and therefore what it is.
Still, there's no reliable way to determine or verify that kind of metatextual information. The narrator is inherently unreliable, etc.
14: A word can mean different things to different people, but I'm going to stick with the argument that it can't mean *entirely* different things, or we wouldn't be able to communicate. Subtexts and associations *do* exist, even though most speakers, in the daily course of things, don't think about them a whole lot.
Maybe vagrants tend to be day-laborers, and this is the kind of thing that one uses day-laborers for? I used to live near a day-labor "temp agency" type of thing, and they carted people around in vans, etc.
I'm ok with 17. I think intention matters but I'm open to the observation it often doesn't matter much and that it's often not the most significant thing about the usage when we are trying to contextualize it, as here.
11: Yup. I can't see 'common' there as anything other than a mock-horrified equivalent of 'vulgar'. I think its function is largely to implicitly mock George as effeminate and therefore snooty.
It's an echo of "like a common criminal," surely? In which context it definitely means "low."
I can only make sense of the piling-on about whether common means vulgar or low, which I didn't think I'd denied, by concluding I'm being read as claiming the opposite. I guess I don't understand how that got to be the argument: I'm willing to concede that must be what it is. I just haven't understood how I was being read. I swear I'm not drunk.
I swear I'm not drunk.
Well there's your problem in a nutshell.
This discussion yet again proves that one never can tell the direction a thread will take when putting up a post.
"I'm going to have sex with Standpipe!"
"with Standpipe" s/b "with a standpipe"
it would be more fun if you created a little intrigue about that.
unless your punctuation indicates that you are quoting a different person who is about to have sex with Standpipe . . . a person whose identity is . . .
. . .
. . .
. . . not readily apparent!
"common vagrant" in the context of street sweeping evokes the image of the Dickensian crossing sweeper. The fact that a profile of the author of the article is entitled "The Madame Defarge of the New York Post" only reinforces the impression that the author has a bit of a 19th century sensibility about these things. I have not read the profile.
Considering crossing sweepers seem to have been quite young, I would suggest "common street urchin" in the future.
I spoke too soon. This suggests a wider range of ages in the profession.
Jo in Bleak House was a crossing sweeper. Mrs. Clownæ tells me Boy George will be giving a concert to benefit sanitation workers now -- I don't quite understand the mechanics of this but good for him.
Perhaps I should have said the author had turned a jarndyced eye upon the plight of vagrants.
I am fucking ROCKING OUT in Omaha, you bitches.
Labs has cleaned a swath all the way from New York to Nebraska. His sweeping technique is unstoppable.
Ah, Omaha. Yes, there's so much rocking out to do there.
If you're looking for a place to eat, go to the Old Market. There's nothing anywhere else except for the (surprisingly good) sushi place up on Dodge in what looks like (and indeed is) an old IHOP.
Hey all. Did anything interesting happen while I was gone?
Four young chaquitas in omaha,
Was waitin for the band to return from the show.
Feelin good, feelin right, its saturday night,
The hotel detective -- he was out-a-sight.
Now, these fine ladies, they had a plan,
They was out to meet the boys in the band.
They said, come on, dudes, lets get it on,
And we proceeded to tear that hotel down.
If Grand Funk can find some rocking in Omaha, surely Labs can