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Friday, October 28, 2011

Courtesy and The Gobsmack.

I wrote before about the misnomer "courtesy call," which is to say an annoying  phone call, usually made to you in your own home, where some stranger asks you for something. I think Corporate America is most responsible for pimping out the word "courtesy." Wal-Mart doesn't have inter-store phone lines or intercoms, but instead has "courtesy phones." Meijer's doesn't provide customer service stations, but refers you to the
"courtesy desk." Those pull-down walls you change your baby's diaper's on are called, if memory serves, "courtesy tables." I don't know if those are the exact particulars, but you get the gist. The wise, often- cited (in this blog ) word observer once heard heard heard Wal-Mart management send maintenance over to the grocery section to clean up a "courtesy spill."  I've seen some patrol cars with the motto "courtesy and service." In an increasingly   irony proof world full of misnomers, Orwellianisms, and "oxymorons," it won't be long before police brutality victims have to file lawsuits against "courtesy officers." How much footage "peace officers" beating the incapacitated have you seen?

Onto less ominous issues: the word "gobsmacked." This word makes me think of getting spat on or have something sticky thrown on to me. The "Free Dictionary" says the word means "to be utterly astounded." It apparently has nothing to with slime or really good heroin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Fear of Words

I read a story years ago, in one of those "News of The Weird" sections of a newspaper that some man somewhere shot his girlfriend for saying the wrong words. "Well, duh," you're thinking, "words are provocative." You aren't on the same page with me yet. He shot his girlfriend for saying the words "Philadelphia" or "snickers."  Take a beat to contemplate that. Now, don't get angry with  me, but those may not be the actual words, but they are illustrative of how random and noninflammatory (to most of us) the words that caused the violence were.  In this particular case, which I can't find any reference to, the man thought his girlfriend was about to say one of the verboten words and knowing that the best defense is a good offense then shot her.  Tasteless humor aside, I would appreciate any link to this case anyone can find.

The most commonly used term for the fear of words is "logophobia." It's hard to find any interesting or informed commentary on the psychological aspect of this fear, instead people see it through a political lens as  a fear of free speech. It's shouldn't come to anyone as a surprise that words like "nigger" or "kike"  provoke a strong emotional response. Similarly, it stands to reason that the word "pain" itself as well as words associated with physical pain would dredge up  bad memories and associations. I'm far more interested in the idiosyncratic fears of random words. I've already written a blog about words that I hate, but in truth those words, at worst, are about as uncomfortable to me as slightly  loud music or a dog slobbering on me-I can cope. I am far more interested in people who have medical conditions or genuine phobias associated with certain words. There are some who claim that phobias of names, long Greek inspired words, and talking itself are extant. As one stupid blogger, I'm not qualified to speak on whether or not I think these are medical conditions, but I believe the fear to be real. So, I'm going to put the ball in your court: do you know where I could find the news article I mentioned earlier? Do you know of anyone who jumps out windows upon hearing the word "gazelle"? I'm searching!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pithy Observations, free and worth every penny.

                Hey folks,
It's Montoya, and when I'm not ogling the former Secretary of Defense (Hubba Hubba, Donald Rumsfeld) I'm making pithy observations about words:
 1 Eating at a Chinese restaurant the other day, I noticed a feline icon dubbed the  "Business Cat." Yes, because when you think of good successful businesses, you think of cats. Asians are, of course, a feline and inscrutable race, and this icon was obviously a graven image of one one of their  Asian gods. In the not too distant future, when your children are speaking Chinese, any businessman with ambition will have to join the Cult of The Business Cat and pay monetary and verbal tribute, "All hail the business cat!"

2 Ivoronics: What Ebonics is to blacks, Ivoronics is to whites. I guess we should think of the accents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Minnesota, Wisconsin, surfers, skateboarders, and gamers.While I have trouble coming up with too many specific examples of Ivoronics, I'm pretty sure it involves saying the word "dude" a lot and occasionally telling others to "die in a fire... man."

3 Food Insecurity: Orwell, eat your heart out. This term is the U.S. governments way of  saying "you, just like a lot more of your fellow citizens than we're willing to admit, can't afford to feed yo'self. Guess, who's headed to the food pantry/ soup kitchen/ social services office?" This blog ain't much? Fuck you, man; it's all I got! Please imagine that last line said with the voice of "Cheech Marin."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Small Minds of Men

        You know there is a wold of tics, thoughts, hang-ups, hang-ons that really mean nothing, but somehow manage to keep me up at night and interfere with my sorely needed beauty sleep. George Carlin called them the "thoughts that kept me out the better schools." Strictly speaking, words like water, bread, fruit, cheese, don't have plurals. We might ask for a "glass of water," a "slice of cheese" or something like that, but if we are going to be grammar slaves, then we really shouldn't pluralize many of the words that we do. That said,  it's convenient and more and more acceptable to do so these days to use words like "breads" and "cheeses" or whatever. On the other hand, it doesn't seem particularly useful or helpful to use words like "shrimps" or "mooses" in common language. I would also expect careful language from specialists. The other night, safely locked away from active and interesting people and in front of the television in a friend's living room, I was watching some History Channel type documentary on a series Red Sea shark attacks. A marine biologist speculated that people had been feeding the "fishes" that sharks normally preyed upon, and for that reason, the sharks had been closer to people and in some cases were used to being fed themselves by reckless divers. What rankled me was that the specialist repeatedly (at least in my head) used the word "fishes." Women, children, and ESL students, please know that there are no "mooses," "deers," "shrimps," and there are sure as hell no "fishes!"

  Whatever, it is all context, and language is a vehicle, not a law, and this is boring me already. Certain subjects don't seem to bore human beings if the number of words for them is any indication of interest or obsession though:                                                            1

sex/ sex acts (any verb can used to imply sex)
                                                                           2 masturbation-some of the idioms and euphemisms are positively genius-I like anything that references bishops.
                                                                           3 genitalia- human male genitalia is the source of all that is just, noble, strong, rational, and productive in this world.  References to female genitalia are uncouth and vulgar just like the portal itself.
                                                                           4 Feces/piss/ disposal of said things and related products.  I'm not going to talk about this, but we're all familiar with the idiots who like to update on their last elimination with a euphemism that makes our skin crawl more than if they had just been plainspoken.

                                                                            5 intoxication- Seriously the verbs, idioms for being intoxicated are richly variegated and are even particular to the substance. I love the idiom for opiate use, "chasing the dragon."
                                                                            6 Eating

                                                                           7 Fighting- I'm always impressed with adults that discuss their fighting prowess at length-classy!

  Think about the alternative ways of describing these activities, 1-7, that you know of. Then ask yourself if you know that names of your great grandparents, neighbors, the capitals of African nations. Hell, I don't even know what's happened to half of my family, am not up on the politics of Togo, and I'm glad not to know the neighbors too well.  In some ways, we aren't but a blink in eternity ahead of the knuckle draggers, feces flingers, savage tribes that were our predecessors. Hell, we probably invented 50 new words to describe gorging ourselves on woolly mammoth carcass and then having orgies afterwards.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Fun Sized Blog

                       Keep'em shakin, ladies!
  Very quickly,

            Have you ever noticed that when candy is sold in the smallest portions or units, it gets referred to as "fun-sized"? I guess that has more of a ring to it than "very cheap product." Truly fun sized candy bars, sodas, pretzels, whatever, would be about the size of a small child or family pet (other things which make for great eating).

   Jimmy boy, little Jimmy, whoever the hell  you are.... You're too old to refer to the long standing science fiction institution known as "Star Trek" as "Star Track." If "Star Track" had been a show, it would have been about inter-stellar shuttle races around the galaxy:

       Announcers: In the 20th century, competitive racing occurred on the track. In the 23rd century, space jocks race around the GALAXYYYYYYYY (fade out and cheesy disco drum beat picks up). The show might have all the actors, but just a new focus on "space-jocks" racing their speed shuttles throughout the galaxy in pitched inter-stellar competition. Kirk would be the racing boy-wonder, Mccoy a surly bartender who shared folk wisdom with the young racers, Spock would be the high-school kid at the library who shared theories on how to improve the aerodynamics space shuttle("Thanks Spock, my racer wouldn't fly half so fast without you, kid") and Mr Scott.... would still be the mechanic, essentially.... enough of this.

    Another thing, ignorami, please don't use the non-existent term "expresso." I have already ground away 7 teeth this year as a result of hearing this word and my dentist says at this rate I'll be infantile and smooth mouthed by the year's end. The word is "espresso." If "expresso" was a word, then according to my very precise and scientific calculations, it would either refer to: 1 An Italian Sports Car meant specifically for highway driving or 2 A low cost, unreliable package mailing service meant to compete with UPS, RHL, Fedex or the like.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Misanthrope and his Misnomers

 There are some words and noun phrases that are either inadvertently ironic or are straight-up oxymorons. I have just written one of the ugliest sentences in the English language. In all seriousness, between betting on cockfights, watching pro-wrestling and panhandling outside of the Department of Social Services, I contemplate and get irritated with the inaccuracy of certain terms-although these aren't the words I hate; that's an earlier post. So with no further boring introduction, the list of misnomers begins:

1Dignity Pants: I can appreciate that people lose control of their bowels, bladders, pipes, valves, vents, and other openings, but to me to me adult diapers and the word "dignity" have no relationship whatsoever. Do I have to say it? There's nothing dignified about dignity pants! Grown folks wearing diapers, God bless them, should refer to their layer of protection as their "unmentionable underpants" or something similar.

2 Gentleman's Club: For all of you heathen foreigners, this is the American euphemism for strip clubs or nude show-bars. A bunch of budding perverts, young adults, matured perverts, and drunken bachelors flock to an establishment to gawk at a woman as she embarrasses her current and future family by fucking a pole and playing with herself in front of hundreds of hungry eyes. The "gentlemen" place dollar bills in their zippers, mouths,wherever, anticipating that the sex worker will pry the bill away from them with her lips. Is this what comes to mind when you think of a classy sorta fella? These places should be called "Voyeur's Clubs" or "Slut Venues."

3 Adult Beverages: I find this term often abused when referring to saccharine sweet wine coolers, cheap,weak malt liquor, or even Boone's Farm soda-pop/bum-wine. All of those drinks are preferred by adolescents who are getting used to drinking booze. Seriously, drinkers with any kind of mature taste or 'sense for drink' do not rush to the liquor to celebrate their distinction with a Mickey's 40 Oz. You know, the kind that leaves that ring of green around your lips because the cheap glass bleeds its color? If there's too much fruit or not enough strong flavor, then the alcoholic beverage is probably best referred to as an "adolescent beverage."  Along similar lines, should porno magazines and movies be referred to as "adult magazines or movies"?  I think "high-school boy whack-off material" might be more appropriate.

4 Courtesy Calls: Simply put, the courteous do not call your house, at anytime, asking for money. Imagine a liquor store beggar walking up to you and asking, "Could I do you the courtesy of taking some of your pocket change?" Courtesy calls, in the context of telemarketing, are the worst kind of oxymoron-most telemarketing firms realize this by now and don't use the term "courtesy call."

Gentlemen Callers: Again, I'm hung up on abuse of the word "gentlemen." Having a man come over to your house does not mean you are expecting a "gentleman." No, although you may be planning to play fan waving, sweet tea serving southern belle hostess to a two-time convicted armed robber whose hobbies consist of text-messaging, polishing his grill, and arguing with his other women, you are most certainly not entertaining a gentleman. I would go as far as to say that if  this guy, "Tron," is a gentleman, then anyone is a gentlemen. If anyone is a gentleman, then no one is a gentleman.