to put the words in the mouth of the president

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
There is no historical precedent to put
The words in the mouth of the president

There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe anymore

Russians by Sting

These lines are from the third verse. In the first verse there's the line: Mr. Khrushchev said "We will bury you".
So, I'm wondering if the boldfaced part refers to this line from the the first verse. Because he says "the words".
Thank you.
 
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  • VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I thought that's how Sting could've referred to Khrushchev in his song. But, what does then this line refer to? The words is definite since used with 'the'.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    No. I don't think any particular words in the song are being referred to. If words are put in your mouth, it means that you didn't say them. He says that Reagan and Khrushchev said those things. He also says there is no precedent - it hasn't been done before. The line's cleverness of precedent/president may be the primary reason that it is in the song.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Sorry, I'm confused. I feel I completely don't understand these two lines. What did the singer mean by them at all? Why is it "the words" if they are not any particular words?
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    He's referring to the crazy notion that anyone could win a nuclear war; it's a plea for peace between the USA and the USSR (remember that this was in the mid-1980s). Each verse ends with "I hope the Russians love their children too." You can listen to it online.

    The "the" is there because it's necessary to the rhythm of the line.

    Vik, please don't forget the futility of attempting to analyze lyrics. They frequently contain departures from normal sentence structure in order to fit the rhyme or rhythm of the composition. (And sometimes, though not in this case, for emotional effect.)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    He's referring to the crazy notion that anyone could win a nuclear war; it's a plea for peace between the USA and the USSR (remember that this was in the mid-1980s). Each verse ends with "I hope the Russians love their children too." You can listen to it online.

    The "the" is there because it's necessary to the rhythm of the line.

    Vik, please don't forget the futility of attempting to analyze lyrics. They frequently contain departures from normal sentence structure in order to fit the rhyme or rhythm of the composition. (And sometimes, though not in this case, for emotional effect.)
    Look, I don't get the plain grammar of this phrase:)
    There is no historical precedent to put the words in the mouth of the president.
    = There is no precedent to do something
    Does the to do something refer to the precedent itself (which doesn't exist) or to something that we cannot do now (because there's no precedent)? What do you think?
     
    I don't know if this could be an idiomatic meaning for the line to put the word in the mouth of someone, but, if a logic has to be found in the syntax of the two verses, maybe the meaning could be that there is no historical precedent that could allow the President to declare that a war could be won against the Russians to protect the American people.
    Actually, I understand to put the word in the mouth of someone more in the sense of forcing someone to tell something or in the sense of misreport someone's words, which doesn't mean much in the context.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Actually, I understand to put the word in the mouth of someone more in the sense of forcing someone to tell something or in the sense of misreport someone's words, which doesn't mean much in the context.

    I'm not aware of "putting words in someone's mouth" to mean "forcing them to tell something" in English. Putting words in someone's mouth is to falsely report that they said something, or to interpret their words in a way that they didn't intend.
     
    I'm not aware of "putting words in someone's mouth" to mean "forcing them to tell something" in English. Putting words in someone's mouth is to falsely report that they said something, or to interpret their words in a way that they didn't intend.
    I get it James. I must have been induced into error by my native language. To be honest the meaning in my language is not exactly "forcing" than "tricking someone into saying something they wouldn't have said out of their sheer will".
     
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