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The Wonderful World of Words

by Albin Johnson

I believe it was Will Rogers who said, "All I know is what I read in the Newspapers." The Sunday LA Times carries a column called "Ask Marilyn". (No relation!) She often poses questions and gives answers to proper grammar usage. Most recently, one of her readers asked, "Why people who live in certain areas of the Midwest have little or no regional accent when they speak. How did these mid Americans become what she called, neutral speakers?" The columnist answered that, "These Midwesterners pronounced their words according to the correct Dictionary Standards. So these folks have the LEAST accent. Unfortunately, people who disregard approved pronunciations may be perceived as pretentious, uneducated or even dull-witted." A stretch maybe, but what the heck!

Shall we try some more words for words sake? "You go girl, right on, gee whiz, golly gee, gee willikers (have you ever said "GEE" to a horse? How about ho? (Not to be confused with "gettospeak"), bro, y'all, youse, youns, all the time, fur sure, not too shabby, just kidding, wacko, whacked, rock, rocken, ditzy, dude, maam and jaysis. I'll close this paragraph with "oopsy daisy!"

Moving on, How about the infamous "Double Negatives?" Are they really bad grammar or just some "smart-asser's" attempt to "show us up"? What about, "I couldn't hardly walk", or "I don't see nobody", or "I ain't never had nothing". Could there be anything "worser"? Maybe, "I don't want nothing", or "almost nothing at all". A quote, (It is a truism of transitional grammar that double negatives combine to form an affirmative.)

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Acronyms have become popular lately. "NIMBY", you know it as "not in my back yard, "BANANA", build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone, "NOPE", not on Planet Earth, and "WASP", (ya'all know that one!!) Are you ready for the next lesson?

We all know what is meant when we read that a MODIFIER must never DANGLE unless you want your sentence to MANGLE! (Really, what does MANGLE have to do with ironing sheets?) Just keep in mind that you MUST connect the modifying portion of the sentence with the grammatical subject of the main clause. (I must "of" read that somewhere)

Stereotypes and gender intonations are often the subject of polite conversation "amongst" friends. Intonations add spice to friendly "chit-chat". Stereotypical behavior was probably the outgrowth of efforts by some groups to identify with others you might try a regional drawl or some lisping, maybe a little guttural noises that would help explain the masculinity or femininity of the person you are describing.

A toss of the head or some hand or arm movements coupled with raised eyebrows can really "NAIL" your description. REAL MEN would never utter words "like" bra or boudoir. "They'd" say such things as, " bitchen, cool, yah and huh" A feminine response would probably be, "no way, so, really, I didn't know" Incidentally, the word "bitchen" was first used by a sweet, petite "little" teenager by the name of GIDGET to describe a "radical" ocean surf. The movie industry often "makes hay" using corruptions of regional speech patterns. This conversation was "downloaded" from a "website" called VALSPEAK. (This mythical language was spoken by a "hip gal" from San Fernando, CA.) "So like I am sitting in the mall the other day and like my friend Buffy says to me, "Heh" Tiff, like my friends call me Tiff, haven't you seen this mega-huge computer thingy called the internet? Hellooo , who does she think she's talking to, miss uninformed? It's not like I wasn't the one who told her all about the time I had gone over to Jiffs house (he's such a total "stud puppy") and I was like OH MY GAWD, only a total dweeb would like this stuff because none of this stuff made any sense, everyone was like totally talking in languages that were "way cool" but left me "hangen".

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Valley Girls can't "hold a candle" next to New York City dialects. There were the stereotypical BOWERY BOYS led by Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall who had all us teenagers speaking Brooklynese. You might have heard this statement. "Member when Dem Bums left for LA and all dah fans from Toity Toid Street were desgarden dare ducats down da terlet?"

My wife brought me a coffee mug from Louisville KY which leads me to a change in subject, PRONUNCIATIONS. Written on the side of the cup were several phonetic spellings as to how you should say that city's name and of course, the acceptable one. When visiting New Orleans you will find the locals vociferously correcting the "Yankees" when they try to identify that city. Most recently I was stunned to find I had miss pronounced that Ford owned import with the animal name of Jaguar. Its not Jag-war, but Jaguour. Who would have known?

In conclusion, I would be remiss if I didn't write about MILITARY-SPEAK. We who remember WW11 have heard such beauties as Frogs, Brits, bonsai, flak, jarheads, dog -tags, Molotov cocktails, and ruptured ducks. Beside Overlord, Battle of the Bulge and D-Day, we didn't get a whole lot of war information. Today we have a new generation and a group of White House "WORD SMITHS" who are inventing a new vocabulary of words to fit any situation that might arise in Iraq. Words such as Desert Storm, (I presume they mean all that sand) insurgency, coalition, contingency, collateral damage, ramp-up, tours, resolve, regular army, noble works, respectful disagreement, tough calls, stay the course, and my favorite SHOCK AND AWE. Now, if you want to keep up with any new vocabulary, you may educate yourself and "get" answers directly from the White House by accessing the President's "BLOG SITE" or contact " " on your computer.

If you would please forward this message to 5 other souls, or 2 English Teachers, you will receive a promise of good luck within 3 days!!!