Wednesday, November 24, 2010



I really like foreplay too, but I wanted your attention.
I also like puns more than jokes, mainly because too many punch lines have become predictable due to the tsunamis of email jokes flooding the Internet.
I also confess that when I coin a word, if anyone actually can claim to do that in the English language, I tend to write it into the ground. Long-suffering readers know that Grits are often "gliberals" for me, and that I've reached the "anecdotage" of my life. Hopefully, that's only the sixth stage and not the feeble last one listed by Shakespeare in the wonderful "all the world's a stage" lines in As You Like It.
I claim to be the first to dub Mel Lastman "supermouth." You know, the mouth that roared, the first mayor of Toronto's amalgamated city. The Bad Boy of excited language. Nooobody could gush or goose the language like Mel.
I remember that in my 1970s crusade for streetcars, I popularized the term "red rocket." (I don't think I would do that today because buses and reserved lanes are the better way.)
Nope, I didn't dream the rocket imagery up, some streetcar buffs did, but they told me at lunch. So I'm credited by historians in this fight with making most Torontonians familiar with the term by using it so often in my columns.
Before the explosion of media, a term spoken in the 1940s, like "Big Blue Machine" to describe the Conservative party in Ontario, could linger unnoticed for two decades before it became part of political language.
Not today. There are so many columnists, bloggers and talking heads that a word can become common in commentary in days. Think of "refudiation."
Then we have great speeches, like JFK's "ask not what your country can do for you," which really are echoes of speeches given decades or centuries before. Not that that should detract from their inspiration, luster and fame.
Towards the end of each year, we are treated by writers and newspapers to new words, puns and bastardizations from 2010 that may have been said before. But so what! Yet any person who believes that he or she was really the first to say anything is living in a fool's paradise.
The Washington Post has printed a clutch of neologisms (which are funny alternate meanings for familiar words) and entries in a contest where you are challenged to add, subtract or change one letter to give a word a great new twist.
Why do I think about "gliberals" when I survey some of the neologisms. There's "glibido" meaning all talk and no action. And "intaxication" meaning your euphoria at a tax refund before you remember it was your money to begin with. And "cashtration." And "bozone" meaning what surrounds stupid people to block bright ideas. And "sarchasm" meaning the gulf between the authors of sarcasm, who are often political commentators, and the people who don't get it.
But enough of politics and "gliberals" with their "glibidos."
I like several of the Post's nelogisms. Such as "flabbergasted" for being appalled at how much weight you've gained. And "willy-nilly" for impotence. And "balderdash" for a rapidly receding hairline. And "coffee" for the person upon which you cough.
There are also lists of words that should be retired. They include "closure, outside the box, shovel ready, czar, sexting and teachable moment." I would also like to scrap "junk" in favour of the honourable expression of "family jewels." And politicians should stop talking about "working Canadians" as if it's one group because that's almost all of us.
And then there are lists of the nicest words, which often have touches of onomatopeia - where the word has the sound of what it's describing, like thunder. You find "bucolic, dalliance, redoubtable, comely, demure, fetching and lithe." Ah yes, remember those comely lithe cheerleaders who turned out to be redoubtable when you wanted a dalliance in a bucolic setting.
A cousin, David C. Prescott, Esq., who grumbles if I don't give him credit, sends along the winning entry in the University of Arkansas annual contest for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term.
This year's term was "political correctness." The winner wrote that it is a "doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end."
If you have coined some concoction of letters into a great word, or have a great definition, send it to me. I promise not to claim it for my own for at least a ....month.

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