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by RIP RENSE

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STATE OF THE LINGO UNION
Feb. 9, 2005

        Full text of the Lingo Czar's recent State of the Lingo Union address:
        Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice-President, members of congress, my fellow Americans. The State of the Lingo Union is weak. Very weak. In fact, it has never been in such disarray, so divided by mispronunciations, malaprops, insipid slang, crippled syntax. Fault lies, of course, with MTV, TeeVee newsmannequins, record companies, and the example set by "President" Bush, whose extemporaneous speech would be fine for someone who grew up in the Ozarks, without books. It is for these reasons that. . .
        Citizens are hereby advised to avoid using the following worn-out phrases, buffoonish slang, buzzwords, mistakes and mispronunciations infecting and muddling clear and dignified communication in this, the alleged 21st century. They are rated "T" (trite), "A" (asinine), "P" (pretentious), "W" (whoops), and "CP" (criminally prosecutable, with recommended minimum punishment of one day of self-imposed silence).
        WRIT LARGE---Every so-called pundit is big on "writ large." As with so many phrases, this one had a perfectly respectable history and high-toned cache on the printed page, and when used in considered, articulate conversation. No more. TeeVee Pundit- mannequins are all over it like dogs on sirloin. They are  tearing and tugging at the remains of writ large, each getting a piece that they promptly spit large at the public. These would-be architects of what charitably can be called "American thought" are slipping writ large into their blabber almost as frequently as "clearly." It just sounds so, so. . .learned, doesn't it? Why employ ordinary terms like "exaggerated," "blown up," "increased," "on a broad scale," "made plain," or "more pronounced," when you can live large on writ? It's short, punchy, and makes you sound like you graduated from a very good junior college. And now TeeVee Newsmannequins are getting into the writ large act, as they endeavor to sound ever more large of wit. P, T.
        TUH---Once spelled "to," and once pronounced "too," tuh has been all but officially christened a brand-new English article by "President" Bush. He loves tuh use it. With help from Xanax, the "president's" speech has become ever more relaxed, down-homey, sleepy as a summer river at high noon. He sometimes sounds so stoned, with the long blank spaces and "uuhhhhh's" between words that, well, it just relaxes you, too! Along with his slurred words and mashed potato consonants comes "tuh," as in Weer gunna haf tuh look induh that. It almost reads like bastardized German, doesn't it? As does pretty much everything else in the Bush administration. W, CP.
        THE  ULTIMATE SACRIFICE---Way off the Odious Scale. All the sanctimonious montebanks in D.C. intone "the ultimate sacrifice." All the pious holy rollers use it, voices a-trembling. It is especially favored by elected officials who never served in the military. And to all our brave servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. . .  Let me give users of this phrase some information: most of the soldiers who have made "the ultimate sacrifice" didn't want to, or intend to. Most of them signed up because they couldn't get a damn job in this country any more. Most of them were praying every second of their tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan that a speaker of "ultimate sacrifice" was in their place instead, and that they were back home on the couch watching "The Simpsons" or "Extreme Makeover" or bonging out to a Green Day album. This is the most filthy euphemism since "collateral damage." Here's what "the ultimate sacrifice" means: getting sliced and pummeled to oblivion by bits of metal; having your limbs blown off and bleeding out, fully conscious; feeling and watching your intestines unravel through a hole in your abdomen, knowing this is the last thing you will ever experience, etc. It is not, as the phrase connotes, a deliberate deed of a valiant soul defending democracy. It is death, and it is quite involuntary. The Czar will wager that many of the good young folk who make "the ultimate sacrifice" in Iraq wonder in their last moments just what in hell they are making "the ultimate sacrifice" for. T, CP.
        LET ME JUST SAY---There must be something about being elected to public office that makes people break out in sentences beginning with "let me just say. . ." Hey, no one is stopping you. Although The Czar often wishes someone would. Ironically, "let me just say" almost always precedes sentences that say. . .absolutely nothing. Let me just don't say. T, A, P, CP.
        HISTORY IS CALLING US/HISTORY WILL JUDGE---The Czar has always recoils in horror when presidents refer to "history." It's probably close to the way African-Americans feel when they hear young drunk white males raise the rebel yell. You know, "They're gettin' crazy---be cool." Bush constantly says "history will judge. . ." as if there is some big creature out there called History who will eventually show up and tell all of us exactly what everything we are now experiencing really meant. And when Queen Condo recently declared something like "History is calling us," well, The Czar nearly fell down and broke his crown. Any powerful official who speaks of having a "place in history," and being "called by history" is dialing without a phone, playing checkers without a board, meowing without a cat. The degree of megalomaniacal delusion is simply terrifying. Memo to Queen Condo: you would do well to consider the definition of history supplied by Schopenhauer: "Clio, the muse of history, is as thoroughly infected with lies as a street whore with syphilis." P, CP.
        GIMME SOME---A cry heard in gyms far and wide, generally shouted drill-sergeant-style by heavily striated men and women supervising other heavily striated men and women who are: a) riding stationary bikes like Death is just behind them, drooling, b) doing aerobic exercises as if someone is jazzing their gonads with electric shocks, c) otherwise de-emphasizing their brains. Gimme some, of course, is little kid lingo, and it is surprising how much of it creeps into adult patois (The Czar assumes this is fallout from actually reproducing.) Well, gimme some, of course, begs the question, gimme some what? That's a bit smartass, yes, as the phrase serves well enough in a gym, where communication is rarely more demanding than a compliment on pecs or "buns" or cheek implants (usually with the adjectives, "hot" and "cool" employed.) But gimme some has escaped into the mainstream. The Czar actually heard a celebrated performer remark that he thought "we should give the women some," in reference to treating them equally in the workplace. Well, women should certainly be treated equally in the workplace, but "give the women some" has the kind of connotation that would get men who speak it booted right out of the workplace. Anyhow, gimme some rest from gimme some. A.
        BUNS---Now, the Czar loves buns---hot cross buns, cinnamon buns, pretty much any bun confection whatsoever. They look nice, and smell wonderful--- which is usually a hell of a lot more than can be said for the items now principally denoted by this word. Back in the '60s or '70s, "buns" was almost naughty, used in reference to the cloven configuration of flesh sitting atop the legs. You'd hear it in P.E. class, from an especially raunchy coach. Ladies never said it. No more! "Buns" is now definitional, when it comes to hindquarters. It is just about the official term, having displaced the undecorous "butt" and "ass" almost wholly (so to speak.) Exercise videos and magazines have for decades raved about "How to Get Tight Buns," etc. This, of course, speaks to the astounding American preoccupation with the rumdadum, but that's another story. A. (That's right---ass-inine.)
        COMMUNITY---In a country, if not world, where a traditional sense of community is all but lost; where "community" is defined by which repugnant TeeVee shows you watch and which designer apparel you are tricked into buying, "community" should have communed with the Great Lingo Beyond long ago. Instead, it abounds. Black community. Jewish community. Gay community. Water polo community. Philatelic community. Where are these communities? Elected blowhards forever talk about such communities, as if they might be locatable on a map. "Community" is almost a figment of the imagination now, here in ghost town America. And it is most certainly a device used by politicians to foster the illusion of unity of purpose among a particular group. Dissolve this community. T.
        ARGUABLY---A Lingo Czar perennial. One recent morning, a local TV Newsmannequin said "Brad Byrd is arguably the most innovative animator alive." Well, who's arguing? Is he or isn't he? You can employ "arguably" arguably in front of anything that might be arguable, which you could argue is practically everything, so why use it at all? You can, for instance, say that Bush is arguably the greatest president in history---that's sure to get some argument going. Arguably, I would argue, arguably means nothing--- that's my argument with it. You can argue anything. No arguments. A.
        GET A CLUE---Along with "get over it," "get a life," and "get real," this is another of the sarcastic "get" dismissives that people have gotten to love so well, here in the Snide States of America. The "get" dismissives are employed when someone has decided to abandon thinking altogether, assuming he or she had any such ability in the first place. "Get a clue" is the cry of the intractable, the call of the riled. It is a "polite" way of saying "f--- you," which, of course, is the most beloved of all American English expressions. It is a shame that users of "get a clue" generally speak it because they haven't a clue how to employ reason. T, A, CP.
        TO BE---This bulwark existential monument of a verb has been all but abandoned by TeeVee and Radio Newsmannequins. Have you noticed? "Be" is bygone. Be. . .gone. Are, were, is. . .ain't. Whatever will be won't be. "The President this morning due to arrive at. . .The soldiers home from their tour of duty today. . .Dick Cheney salivating, begging for more raw meat. . ." It is as if all information is delivered in one big sentence full of commas. To be or not to be? Tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous syntax? Methinks not. Let there be be. W, CP.
        And so, my fellow Americans, history is arguably calling us tuh go forward together in greater Lingo unity and a spirit of Lingo brotherhood. Let me just say God bless you, and may God bless the Lingo States of America.
            
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