The Rhetoric of Greatness

‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself,’ said Alice, ‘a great girl like you,’ (she might well say this), ‘to go on crying in this way! Stop this moment, I tell you!’ But she went on all the same, shedding gallons of tears, until there was a large pool all round her, about four inches deep and reaching half down the hall.

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That’s Alice using “great” as the British do to mean “big.”  An American child would say she was too big to be crying so much. It has absolutely nothing to do with Alice being some sort of awesome individual. I write because I am fed-up with the tedious speechifying around this word, used to argue about returning to some sort of mythic greatness or awesomeness. If Alice was great in that Trumpian awesome sense, Carroll’s cutting her (literally) down to size. Here’s a brief twitter exchange I just had on this. Thanks, Philip.

Mighty tired of the rhetoric around making something (say a country) “great” again. I’d like to see a more generous word in play.

That bothers me too. ‘Great Britain’ just means a country that’s larger than ‘Britain’, which meant England and Wales

 

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