Requiem for the English Language, Part Three: Picture It!

Hurts, don't it?

Hurts, don’t it?

Before laying the torch upon my dictionary and kicking its skiff downriver, let’s take a moment to consider the finer moments of the English language.  Or you can just read Shakespeare’s collected works, but who’s got that kind of time?  No, I’d rather tack up a random scatter of snapshots culled from its life, midwestern funeral home style.

  • I first fell in love with the English language when I discovered the compound word.  Two words marry and have a baby, I thought of it at the time.  Ginger fell in love with Bread and begat that legendary uncatchable scallawag known as the Gingerbread Man.  Sure, I got my grammar mixed up in my literature; it seemed natural to me and it was some heady stuff at the time, believe me.
  • Rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, hasta la vista.  You gave us structure and stability, and like all cornerstones, you were at best unnoticed, and, at worst, unappreciated.  I imagine no one will laugh harder than you as you look down at the ensuing chaos created by your departure.   For example, countless human interactions will be snafued by homonym traps like their/they’re/there, to/too/two, the repercussions of which will be much like “Who’s On First”, only funny.
  • The sentence diagram: this is what happens when the left brain has its way with the right.  Words are stripped to their respective essential functions as parts of speech and the tender spaces between them is infiltrated with hard, linear logic.  I don’t know why nobody likes diagramming sentences; it’s always turned me on for some reason.

    A typical Barack Obama sentence, diagrammed: you sexy motherfucker.

    A typical Barack Obama sentence, diagrammed: you sexy motherfucker.

  • Consider the rich contradiction, and perhaps the beautiful failure, of the onamatapoeia.  Saddling a noun that names a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with that thing or action with a sobriquet so ornately oppositional to its mission is, to me, just a geeky good time.  Nothing in nature sounds like “onamatapoeia”, but here it is, defining the linguistic phenomenon that brought us “buzz”, “pop”, “hiss”.  The onamatapoeia is incongruent, overdressed: a butler serving red Koolaid on a silver tea service in a Tennessee trailer.  What’s not to love about that?
  • Which brings me to Irony.  As Dorothy said to the Scarecrow  in “The Wizard of Oz”, the most ironic film of all times: : “I think I’m going to miss you most of all.”  What I’ll miss is not the actual manifestation of irony in everyday life because it will be there (oh, will it ever), but the intellectual construct of irony.  Face it: we’re waking up to a world in which golden arches are actually replacing the name “McDonald’s” on signage, where the “Mountain” of Mountain Dew has been trunkated to an “Mtn” molehill.  Hope you like iconography, kids.  I anticipate the written language will look a lot like those oxygen mask instructions you have to follow when the plane goes down.  I’m pretty sure that a sophisticated concept like irony won’t translate to corporately-gestated hieroglyphics.  Irony, lacking a verbal vehicle on the mental expressway, will return from whence it came: as that sharp prick of “hey, waitaminute” on the hazy borders of consciousness.  The cave man’s grunt of “hey, waitaminute” at the wolf who tries to eat him as he himself is eating his freshly-killed lunch will come full circle to the future, where a guy who is paying shitloads for gasoline to fuel up a car designed to save him money on gas will blink and say “hey, waitaminute.”  Irony will be a neurological sensation, not a way of thinking of things and processing reality.  Admittedly, this is a difficult idea for me to define and put in clear terms.  I’d draw you a picture, but that would mean the terrorists have already won, now wouldn’t it?
  • I’m too pissed to put up any more pictures on this funeral home cork board.  Fuck you, McDonalds, for ruining pictures for everyone.

This here language of ours was the flower of our collective intellect so I suppose it only stands to reason that when the ground lies fallow, the weeds take over.   (Hence the text-talk LAWS, the TV linguistics, and so on.)   And that’s why a Viking funeral, and not a standard Christian burial, will only do for my dictionary.  For as much as I love all things ironic, the thought  of allowing this Bible of the Brain to be covered over by literal fucking weeds growing out of the literal fucking ground, is too much to bear.  I won’t have it.  Burn, baby burn.

Petroglyphs: everything old is new again.

Petroglyphs: everything old is new again.

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