Neil Gorsuch Has An Affinity For The English Language Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee is known for his attention to language. The Wall Street Journal's Ben Zimmer describes how Neil Gorsuch once used a sentence diagram to write his judicial opinion.
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Neil Gorsuch Has An Affinity For The English Language

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Neil Gorsuch Has An Affinity For The English Language

Law

Neil Gorsuch Has An Affinity For The English Language

Neil Gorsuch Has An Affinity For The English Language

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Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee is known for his attention to language. The Wall Street Journal's Ben Zimmer describes how Neil Gorsuch once used a sentence diagram to write his judicial opinion.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Judge Gorsuch's affinity for language - even for a judge, as Nina said - also caught the eye of Ben Zimmer. He writes about language for The Wall Street Journal. Zimmer told us that in one such case, Gorsuch pulled out a tool that's mostly used by linguists and middle schoolers.

BEN ZIMMER: Well, it's called a Reed-Kellogg sentence diagram, which used to be taught in schools up through the 1970s or 1980s, when sentence diagramming fell out of fashion.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But Judge Gorsuch found it useful as he tried to untangle a particularly confusing statute.

ZIMMER: Quote, "any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug-trafficking crime" - etc., etc., etc. - "shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years."

I've taken out a bunch of things in the middle of that, and it's still confusing.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: If you're over the age of 30, you may have forgotten what one of those sentence diagrams looks like, that cascade of dotted and smooth diagonal lines. Need a visual aid?

ZIMMER: If you consult the official judicial opinion on this case, you will see this sentence diagram right in there. And it's the only case that I've ever heard of where a sentence diagram has showed up in a judicial opinion in that way.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Ben Zimmer of The Wall Street Journal. And you can see that sentence diagram on WEEKEND EDITION's Facebook page.

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