I am here today to speak about word abuse. If you’re looking for the nerd abuse talk, that’s over in Dorkmunder Hall.
So. Words, as most of us know, are those odd sticks and circles and bendy-twisty scratchings we see on paper in pencil or ink, on computer screens in some kind of magical electric goop, or just tattooed at 3 a.m. on our biceps, butts and birdbrains.
The first written words came from cavemen who scratched or painted shapes on their cave walls in total darkness. They tried using light from campfires so they could actually see what they were doing. But since boy scouts hadn’t been invented yet, those unventilated campfires got very smoky. Coughing cavewives took up brontosaurus brooms (Gloria Steinem hadn’t been invented yet) and chased the boys out.
Thousands of years later, we see men of science (see Gloria Steinem note, above) in khaki shorts, pith helmets and keychain penlights entering one of those caves. They immediately fall to their knees. They’ve tripped over some dead cavemen asphyxiated by campfires, or in some cases, beaten silly with a dinosaur bone. When the manly scientists in shorts get up they literally see the writing on the wall. One of them gasps “Go get Bob.”
Bob comes in and spends an hour poring over the runes and symbols, his runny nose at times touching the wall. “I can’t be sure,” he says finally, “but it appears to be something about a ham sandwich.”
Skip ahead to the present day. (If you can’t skip, you may jump. If you can’t skip or jump, you really should go over to Dorkmunder Hall.)
Over millions of millennia those first cave words have morphed into a level of sophisticated discourse—most of it using words–unequaled in history. Well, except maybe the super-sonic proliferation of shoe stores.
In present day we find two men in suits and hair announcing a football game. From the booth, we see a player running down the field. One of the hairmen says “He has such wonderful athleticism.” The second hairbag adds “And what amazing physicality.”
Like a spreading virus these words can now be heard from all football booths, they appear in headlines, news stories. They even fall from the mouths of word-loving friends, the kind who keep words as pets. Somewhere dead cavemen are rolling over in their graves. Same with the live ones.
A quick call to Prof. Ken Saturday-Afternoon at the Institute of Ality and Isms confirms that these words are fake and should not be spoken, written or used in parlor charades.
“It would be like describing your college geology professor by saying ‘He has such wonderful geoligism.’ And ‘What amazing teachicality.”
But will his efforts make any difference? With baseball season upon us, I fear that baseball announcers will gravitate toward the glib and the easy. Prepare to be pained by travesties such as:
• That left hander has amazing pitchness.
• What can I say about the fastosity of that guy?
• I tell you podnuh, I’ve never seen a player with that kind of running-into-the-wallism.
• What a grab! Nobody beats him at catchamottaboombaness.
• In today’s game it sure helps if you have that switch-hitterality.
• You talk about your swingism and your strongosity…
• Not many players can advance a runner with such textbook bo-bis-bit-bimus-bitus-buntonian skills.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.