Answer by Kris Rosvold:
So we have someone asserting or implying that the Gettysburg Address is semi literate gibberish. ..first reaction: Wow, just…wow.
Second reaction: OK, let's take it from the top.
Sorry buddy, those assertions are dramatically wrong on both counts. I can only infer you are using thst you are attempting to use a literary device in an attempt to discredit or dismiss content which you disagree with.
Here is the speech we're talking about:
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
First off I find it difficult to lend any credence to assertions about literacy from any one who doesn't know that the term "literacy" applies only to applications of the Written word, and not the Spoken word, as this so obviously is. I also find it difficult to credit the opinion of a person who misuses contractions… Yes this could be a typographical error, but still.
the ability to read and write.
synonyms: ability to read and write, reading/writing proficiency; learning, book learning, education, scholarship, schooling
competence or knowledge in a specified area.
"wine literacy can't be taught in three hours"
Second, this speech is a great example of using slightly archaic usages and devices (for the time) to call forth and ennoble the sense of History and Mission where, reasonably, no great span of history exists. After all the nation was only 87 years old at the time of the speech. Compared to the history of the monarchies of Europe this was a drop in the bucket.
Now, as to the gibberish part…
unintelligible or meaningless speech or writing; nonsense.
"he talks gibberish"
synonyms: nonsense, garbage, balderdash, blather, rubbish; More
Origin early 16th century: perhaps from gibber (but recorded earlier) + the suffix -ish1 (denoting a language as in Spanish, Swedish, etc).
So this word means speaking or writing in such a way that the listener has no hope of understanding the intent of the speaker. It, unlike "literacy" is about the ability to complete communication (sent message = received message).
An example of this would be a speaker of Norwegian attempting to communicate with someone who has only English as a language.
This is clearly not the case as virtually ALL of the folks who listened to that speech understood precisely what Mr. Lincoln meant.
In this case, if the person making this assertion were an English speaker, I would reply that any fault of understanding was theirs. (See… there's that slightly archaic construction for effect ag as in)
Ain't words (and dictionaries) wondful?!
Thanks, Aryeh! That was fun.