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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

A new type of dictionary

December 13, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

There is a strong suspicion in the hallowed Groves of Academe that the use of a dictionary is nil. We no longer need all those beautifully descriptive and to the point words contained within one. Who needs words like impressive, overwhelming, moving, astonishing, stunning, sedate, magnificent, tremendous, appropriate, or even fab, rad, funky, hot, bad - or any of the other once popular slang words - when today awesome or cool pretty much says it all?

We have eliminated all the "ly" adverbs, which relegates to the trash bin are phrases like "real(ly) big" or "how close(ly) it came."

Punctuations? When movie-conscious people speak in the currently (oops, another rare "ly" adverb) popular Valley Girls style, we eliminate the poor little period (.) by ending each sentence with a question mark (?) whether it's a question or not.

On the other hand, in a feast-or-famine manner, we add words that are unnecessarily ("ly" again!) repetitive, as in "a little tiny house" or "close proximity." And politicians never tire of saying "the American people" when just "Americans" would suffice. In times of a digitally shrinking spelling of words, the extra ones are really really really not needed.

We are told by teachers that the English language is just too difficult, even for English-speaking Americans, to use properly, so why not just let the kids use baby talk, like "Me and my friend went" or "It's for her and I."

So we grow up to become politicians and actually say such things as:

"I challenge my opponent to give a frank affirmative answer: YES OR NO!"

"My opponent has vilified me, he has crucified me and, yes, he has even criticized me."

"We need to establish a democratic, legal, circular state" (He meant "secular").

"I'm proud of our school system. We taught philosophy and astrology and math way before Socrates and them homos ever got around to it."

"We don't want women in government; they are lazy, expect too much, and doesn't speak good English."

"The president don't want any yes-men or yes-women around him; when he says no, we all says no."

"I never had brains for business; that's why I went into politics."

"Whoever designed the streets in this city must have been drunk; I think it was them Irish immigrants."

"America must be kept American; biological laws show that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races."

"It gets into quota, go into numerical, set numbers for doctors or for, it could go into all kinds of things" (that from our former president, who somehow got into an Ivy League school and graduated by the skin of his teeth).

It's been said that the number of words in a college entrant's vocabulary half a century ago was between 7,000 and 10,000 - not bad - but in a recent study it was found that the number today has been reduced to between 300 and 500 words, with slang and profanity filling the void.

Well, if that's the case - if you can't fight 'em, join 'em. So how about a special dictionary for contemporary communicators that might help. How about the following facetiously created and more easily (oops, another "ly" adverb) understood? What about these for a start:

ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle

CHICKENS: The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead

BEAUTY PARLOR: A place where women (and some men) curl up and dye.

COMMITTEE:?A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours

DUST: Mud with the juice squeezed out

SKELETON:?A bunch of bones with the person scraped off

RAISIN:?A grape with a sunburn

MOSQUITO:?An insect that makes you like flies better

INFLATION:?Cutting money in half without damaging the paper

TOOTHACHE:?The pain that drives you to extraction

YAWN:?An honest opinion openly expressed

EGOTIST:?Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation

WRINKLES:?Something other people have, similar to one's own character lines

HANDKERCHIEF:?Cold storage

Well, it's worth a try, isn't it?

No new Rotten Tomatoes this week. For the best film entertainment, see "Flight," "Life of Pi (in 3D if possible), "Skyfall," and/or tomorrow's Club Indigo romantic comedy.



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