I would like to address all of the “that” haters in our land. Does that mean you? That depends. Take this little test: when you read the that in that first sentence above, did your head spin around on your neck at least twice, prior to projectile vomiting? Have you become disoriented, light-headed or perhaps a supply side or trickle-down economist (with or without the barfing)? Did you grab the nearest pencil, or sheet-rock screw or Dymo label maker or a delete button to excise that that?
If so, that is the mark of the true that hater. And yes, that means you.
For some reason, that-haters think that the Constitution has given them the right to lock and load their Glock de-thatters and to go marauding through other people’s sentences and paragraphs on their hunt for rogue thats.
To me this is trespassing on private usage with intent to show smugness (TOPUWITSS). (Not to be confused with Sir Felix Topuwitz, the inventor of the tops to your garbagowitzes.)
BTW, in the sentence above I was going to say that is trespassing. But I knew I would hear only the spittle frothing shouts of “Fix bayonets!” or “Give no quarter or change of any kind!” And that would be that for another innocent that.
Not all that-haters are that-killers. But at the very least they want every that to be called out and made an example of. (This, even though sacred grammarians insist you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition.) (FYI: of is a preposition.)(Although how come you can end a sentence with the word “preposition?”) (That is ridiculous.) (!).
Often, those who would destroy that’s want to replace them with impotent its or boot-licking whiches. Oddly, the Salem Which trials began when people actually took umbrage with the word which — even though the Mayo clinic specifically warns that you never take umbrage when you’re also taking MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) or MAOBs (Mayon Aise On Burritos).
Anyway, after the Great Umbrage Drought, a mob of Salemonians gathered at the Salem Mob’s Club and decided which wasn’t so bad after all. There came an ominous pause. The piano player stopped playing. Everyone looked around this way and…
“Look at that!” somebody shouted.
With flames in their eyes, the whole lot of them charged out of that club after that that like a mess o’zombies. (Some stopped off at an Urgent Care for flaming eyeball syndrome.)
Meanwhile, captured thatters were dragged to the public square and placed into stocks—usually chicken stock, sometimes beef, sometimes plain old junk bonds. Affixed above them, a sign proclaimed their crime: “For Unlawful That Usage.”
Angry thatters picketed the scene, carrying signs that read “Unlawful schmunwaffle.” Hardly anybody noticed except the sticky-fingered CEO of the International House of Schmunwaffles.
The next day the signs were replaced with only the familiar initials of the crime. Over time, that became the quintessential insult to hurl at quintessential insult deservers: Yes, I’m talking about Fut U.
Later, when horses asses were invented, the insult evolved into “Fut you and your horse whose rump bears a strong resemblance to your mother’s face.” But that insult fell flat when angry Moms countered with the paradox of Schrödinger’s Mother. It posited that while a mother inside a box (large) might have a face like a horse’s ass (usually the reason she was placed into the box), no law of quantum schmantum could state with certainty that she also had to be a horse’s ass. Although, as Schrödinger found out to his dismay, once the box is opened, all bets are off.
A more recent development in the that-which wars is the urban lingo corruption of that into dat. Hence, the popular urban youth phrase “True dat,” where “true” simply confirms the wisdom of a previously uttered, though not explicitly stated “dat.”
Pathetically, the whichers tried to one-up the thatters with their ludicrous “True ditch.” Hearing that, young, chillaxin’ datters from Kalamazoo to Timbuktu could only wonder aloud “Whut da fut?”*
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2018, all rights reserved.