Sotomayor: No Adjectives Of Spanish

I pointed out, here, the incredible silliness of Sonia Sotomayor’s 1996 pronouncement in a speech to Princeton students that “in Spanish we do not have adjectives. A noun is described with a preposition.”

Now the grammar of this self-taught grammarian has been noted on National Review Online’s Bench Memos. Matthew J. Franck asks, “what the heck is the word ‘Española’ in the title ‘Diccionario de la Lengua Española’ except the Spanish adjective ‘Spanish’”?

“What hit me,” Franck continues,

when I saw Sotomayor boasting about her care about her writing was that she still needed to do some work. After all, “I blister,” she says, when she sees writing errors. Didn’t she mean “I bristle”? That would be a standard metaphor for what she is trying to say, while “blister” is either a metaphorical stumble or the really daring effort of a supremely confident writer. I vote for “stumble.”

And Ed Whelan notes the Spanish adjective gaffe in his post, A Judge of Latinicity of Wisdom of Grammar?, a title that is a take-off on her comment in the speech that I mentioned:

When my first mid-term paper came back to me my first semester, I found out that my Latina background had created difficulties in my writing that I needed to overcome. For example, in Spanish, we do not have adjectives. A noun is described with a preposition, a cotton shirt in Spanish is a shirt of cotton, una camisa de agodon, no agondon camisa.

Ed generously linked to my post, even though he hadn’t seen it until his was nearly finished.

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