Friday, September 09, 2005

The Utter Limits

I hope that my Scott Collage was interesting and even eye-opening. (Ear-opening?) Of course, it was made in response to the epidemic of over-the-top praise for Raymond Scott--who was talented, yes, but not the 20th century's answer to Mozart, sorry. Then again, as an e-friend just pointed out to me, Scott did not manufacture his own legend--rather, his fans are responsible. And select journalists. My collage was especially dedicated to those two demographics.

I love that word--"demographics." Not to sound like that rant-aholic NPR linguist, Geoff Whatsishame, but nowadays we replace normal words with official-sounding ones that don't really apply directly to the subject, and just for the sake of sounding official. I doubt that "demographic" is really a replacement for "group." Any more than "learning curve" is a replacement for "learning."

And, sure enough, my dictionary identifies "demographic" as an adjective, not a noun: "Of or pertaining to demography." Not that the average bureaucrat even knows what a dictionary is. In other words, if "demographic" is even a noun, it didn't become one until recently, AND because of idiots who don't know how to use words. I can't think of a better or more noble reason for our language to change.

I should point out that my dictionary is not current. If it were, "demographic" would be in there as a noun. I just know it. Facing it is another matter.

Well, I've had my little tizzy episode. And I feel better. Me, me, me. People say, "It's all about you, isn't it?" and I say, "Now you're catching on!" Then I run for my life.

My favorite business-memo misuse of English is "commensurate with," allegedly meaning "in accordance with." I once asked someone if "commensurate with the guidelines" means that we're supposed to shrink ourselves to the size of our computer screen. To be commensurate with the guidelines. I don't remember what she said.

And we had a higher-up who talked about "learnings." As in, things he had learned. "I had some really good learnings at the meeting, Jim!" "Great. Now maybe you can learn some basic grammar!"

At Beyond the Roots of Lounge, the topic is drinking. As in, drinking a lot. Heigh-ohhhhh!!!! Judging by the punctuation in the following sentence, I think those folks are well on the way: "We could use some levity...and a nice stiff one...right about now, couldn't you?"

Speaking of beyond, it's beyond me how anyone could write something like that. It really is.

Meanwhile, the White House is trying to recreate the past. In their version of Katrina Week One, George W. Bush was on the phone to Louisiana the night before the event, begging the governor to please, please get an emergency evacuation going. This act of leadership must have drained him, because it was, what? Four more days before he went to N.O.? And two more days after that until he had the sense to stop cracking jokes in front of flattened homes?

This is the guy who was begging Louisiana to please evacuate. To quote Daffy Duck, "Ahhhhhhhhh... yeah."



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