Friday, November 28, 2014

Cleaning up the language, one letter at a time

At the pub the other day a thought suddenly struck me, which was surprising for all concerned (I'm never going to suddenly think again). I realised with a shock what a lot of wasted letters there were in the English language these days, letters just sort of floating around, maybe as a flailing linguistic attempt at an acronym, sometimes not even that. What? Allow me to demonstrate: observe the ever-present egotism of the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod. Without the 'i', you'd just be left with a 'phone' (for phoning people), a 'pad', (for writing stuff on), and a 'pod' (for..... whatever the hell it is that pods do).

Is that all? As the smelly hippy said to the corporate suit offering him a job, no way, man! I haven't even started! Anyway, there's the S-Bend, which is, I presume, a bend in a street, and you probably shouldn't try J-walking over it, though I do wonder whether you'd find S Club 7 trying to do a U-turn at the corner? While we're on the road, you'll also find E Street meeting Avenue Q at the T Intersection of the L bend (or, to put it bluntly, a street, an avenue, an intersection, and another bend). Hey, maybe there's even someone standing around with an e-cigarette, because you're not allowed to e-smoke one of those things inside because of the dangers of e-passive smoking from all those e-fumes.

While we're on the 'e's, there's a few items to get through. There's the e-toothbrush, the e-book, and the e-chair - a toothbrush, a book, and a chair (that you wouldn't want to be sitting in, obviously). Scientologists use an e-meter, though funnily enough, if you take the 'e' away, you're not even left with a proper meter. Maybe it only works in e-space. What else? I suppose some people are in the habit of dropping pills of 'e' - though it would seem rather cruel to take the letter away from them, since they wouldn't be left with much either.

T-shirts, m-theory, x-rays, and Charles Dickens' charming Aged P next come to mind, though it should be noted that P G Wodehouse had the good grace to come up with a character called 'Psmith', with a silent 'P'. (But then, all the best 'p's are silent). One question that occurs at this point is, does Mr T from the A Force prefer Special K or Cheeri-Os or Cheezy-Os? Then again, subtracting the superfluous letters we end up with something Cheezy, something Cheeri, and something Special, so it doesn't sound so bad. Vitamins A, B, and C without the A, B, or C are still vitamins, and I still have no idea why they're supposed to be good for us.

You can have straight A students, they can be A1, of A quality and then the next minute you'll find them hanging around in Y fronts listening to ZZ Top while reading X-rated literature. I suppose they did say that X marks the spot, although all of a sudden you find that they're actually reading about the G-spot. Talk about g-force! It's enough to make you want to say the f-word or the f-bomb, the c-word or the c-bomb, the s-word or the s-bomb, though not (thankfully) drop the h-bomb or the a-bomb.

Bringing up the end of my catalogue, we have v-day, d-day, o-rings, c-cups, O Magazine, and someone called K Dog. Which makes you wonder what it's all about, really. Take the 'O' away from 'Magazine', and you still have a magazine, though not necessarily a very good one. A 'dog' somehow seems preferable without the 'K'. But, you know, once all the frivolous letters have been removed from all these words, you end up with a 'C, A, T', a 'H, A, T', a 'P, U, G', a 'J, A, F, F, A' and a 'Q, U, I, L, T'. I'm sure there's more, but let's throw those in the room with the dog, the bomb, the vitamins, the strange nameless man called Mister, and the students standing about in their y-less fronts reading good clean ordinary literature and see how they get along, shall we?

1 comment:

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