Monday 11 February 2008

Good English-bad English

Say "based off of" if you must, but if you have ever said it anywhere near me, then note that I have already decided you are a fool. I am prepared to acknowledge that 'offa' is acceptable rough American usage, as in 'get offa the horse,' (and that the comma comes before the quotation mark as I just put it) but if you Americans must pronounce that excellent English word fillet as though it is a French word, with an 'ay' sound at the end, then please give me a wide berth. It bugs me because, apart from the air of polite culinary pretension, it causes me to wonder whether the speaker knows it is the same word as used in architecture and heraldry and is the ribbon victorious athletes would have tied around their heads long ago. On the other hand, hearing an Australian pronounce airconditioner as though it's written as 'eggnisher' is funny enough to get by, and my fellow cartoonist from New York, Tony Consiglio, told an anecdote that had me on the floor in convulsions, about working in an appliance store and getting a phone order for an 'asscrusher' from a lady down South . Please let these people thrive happily.

Down here in the southern hemisphere the word 'bastard' has a respectable history:
Bastards, as Barry Crump discovered one afternoon in the Timberlands Hotel, outnumber heroes by something like 15,000 to one - an intriguing fact that had never been adequately documented before. Crump being Crump he immediately set out to remedy the matter, and the result was "Bastards I Have Met", an ABC of Bastardry which when published in 1971 took the country by storm.

But I am curious as to where the word 'bastardry' came from? No, not bastardy, 'the state or condition of being illegitemate.' Here in Australia it appears to be considered proper usage, in extreme situations, and that's fine with me, as when our former Prime Minister Howard declared the attack on the Twin Towers an Act of bastardry. (The Canberra Times 13 September 2001)
Prime Minister John Howard described the airline terrorism in New York and Washington yesterday as an act of bastardry against the American people, and promised Australia's full support for tough action against the perpetrators.

Over at The Dog’s Bollocks (Truth is like a dog’s bollocks - pretty obvious if you care to look.) Howard himself was accused of the same:
Howard’s final act of indigenous bastardry.
The Federal government, in a farcical traversty of parliamentary process today passed a shonky piece of legislation which closes the circle on Howard’s decade long determination to legally extinguish native title. Although mentioning children but a few times, the 500 page legislation enacted in the name of saving indigenous children paves the way for one of Howard’s other long cherished dreams – an unfettered expansion of the uranium industry, from mining to waste storage.

On that page, I notice the previous entry was titled Howard’s economic GM asshattery.


That's fine with me too.

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Blogger Jason Das said...


12 February 2008 at 00:53:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

I have a fondness for the word bastard as I have been watching The Young Ones since age 6. My cell phone even greats me with "You Bastard" when I turn it on. So, just how dose the word aluminum sound coming out of your mouth? May I ask? Do you add that extra imaginary syllable as the English do, or have the Scottish renounced those ways?

12 February 2008 at 01:31:00 GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

I'll second that "shonky ?"

When our latest cat adopted us, we took him to a vet and she was making a file for him. When she asked his race, my love said "bastardo", which is mongrel. At which the vet replied all offended that we should not say that but use "European" instead.
After days of giggles, "European" has now become an insult in the family...

12 February 2008 at 02:24:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always liked that somone talking humbug could be accused of humbuggery.

Ben Smith

12 February 2008 at 08:36:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hypersonic said...

As an English teacher I have to explain some of this guff to my about a headache.

14 February 2008 at 20:47:00 GMT-5  

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