In the Nash’nal Int’rest

In the Nash’nal Int’rest

Ev’ry, dammit, ev’ry time
My ev’ry sports a ’postrophe,
You howl and howl my spelling crime
As def’nit’ly catostrophe.
But still they pop extr’ordin’ry,
Dishon’rab’ly, inord’nat’ly,
By lis’ning out for how it’s said
When diff’rently from how it’s read.
So speech shall speak, and I’ll lit’rature obey –
Just deal with it, you soph’mores –  cos the commas stay !

Glottal Stop

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Glottal Stop

I love the way you speak,
I’d never seek to mock its cocky tone.
Your fully-glottled cant
Ain’t mine to grant, it’s yours and all your own.
Ignore the RP snob
Who wants to rob your patois of its melody,
And claim it’s just the vogue,
Your burnished brogue, and not your self-identity.
So know that I in no-way disrespect
Your tongue as somehow incorrect
When I request that you select
Your speech with special care.
It’s not your vowels, for they’re your glory,
Nor your consonants abhor me –
Yet the needs of oratory
Cause us to beware.
There is, I say, a world apart
Between the rhythms we employ
In casual chat and speaking smart,
And knowing when the wrong will cloy.
And when it comes to rhetoric,
There comes a need for clarity:
Don’t change you accent, let it stick,
Just drop in those plosives, and ring out that final G.

Transient Verses

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Transient Verses

Year after year, our language is changing
And drifting yet further from Shakespeare’s day,
Making it harder to known of his meaning,
Making obscure as we’re slipping away.
Writings updated retain all their meaning,
But lose all their diction and word-play and flow –
So when only scholars can read still this poem,
Then do not translate it, but just let me go.

 

 

Journeyman

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Journeyman

First I took the high road, then I took the low road,
(But I found the middle of the road ain’t worth a mention.)
I hit and hogged and kicked-the-can upon the long and winding road
That’s sometimes paved with yellow bricks, and sometimes good-intentions.

Yet how many must a man walk down before they make him ?
This hard road to Damascus is a lonely trial of tears.
Please don’t lead to Rome again, but to the road not taken,
For the golden road to Samarkand begins at Wigan Pier.

 

 

Ah idioms, where would language be without jargon ?  This poem is so early, I was still allowing myself to slip in post-rhyme esses (tearS and pier), which I’m much stricter about these days, although they do still crop up where to avoid them would make the syntax tortured (though usually in the also-rhyme position [lines 1 and 3], with a cleaner pairing on the prime-rhymes).

 

 

Propersome Grammar

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Propersome Grammar

To take the example of gotten,
Grammaticists so much malign
This useful past participle
Whose use was once most rife and fine.
Crossing oceans, forth it went,
Yet back at home its usage fell
A shorter version came in vogue
That was but little used till now.
And yet these language experts
Who tell us how to speak forthhence
Forget this evolution,
Forget that English is not French.
They try to stop the creeping changes,
Battle hard against the rot.
“If we don’t keep our English pure,
Well, what then have we got ?”

 

 

Language has long fascinated me, and here’s an early attempt of spinning some obscure lingual trivia into half a page, a useful fallback still when Mr Block comes to call.  The bit about English not being French is a reference to l’Académie Française, (that’s right, Immortals, I capitalised the adjective – deal with it !)  I heartily hope that the average Francophone ignores them with rigour.  I’m sure an English equivalent would simply hate ‘forthhence’, though maybe with good reason on this occasion.

 

 

Hogwash

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Hogwash

To the Anglo-Saxon world,

A deer was anything than ran,
A fowl was anything that flew,
A fish was anything that swam,
A lily, anything that grew,

A fly was anything that buzzed,
A beetle, anything that crept,
A worm was anything that crawled,
A spring was anything that leapt –

That’s just what they were called.

But scientists then came along,
Insisting we had got it wrong
For centuries.
And we must never mention these.

I guess the world has specialised,
But why are smart lads still surprised
By broader use,
Or giving modern speech a goose ?

Self-fulfilling pedants, keen to snub,
These sneery science boys –
They build their house beside our pub
Then whinge about the noise !

A wort was anything of herbs,
An apple, anything of fruits,
And bug was something that disturbs
Your modern blooms with ancient roots.

 

 

Scharfes Ess

sssss

 

Scharfes Ess

I don’t care what you tell me,
It’s a B !,
Whatever German see.
A Beta-B, a bit more curvy,
Cool and verve-y,
Filigree.
This ligature is formal dress,
A symbol of the bourgeoisie.

But who could guess that it’s an S ?
Well, okay, two, that you compress
(or is it three…?)
Enough !
Don’t squeeze your esses into messes,
Let each ess breathe free !
And let’s supress this guff, unless,
We let it be a B !

 

 

Mongeese

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Mongeese

I’m far too much busy just watching these wonderful creatures
To care for your grammar.
They’re so like the ferrets and martens in habit and features –
They drown out your clamour.
They aren’t, though, that closely related (they’re closer to panthers),
They just look the same –
For evolution converges on similar answers,
And so does their name.

 

 

Monotongue

tongue

 

Monotongue

My Latin may be lacking,
My Dutch may be unknown,
In Thai and Greek I cannot speak,
My English stands alone.
If I can’t win with Mandarin,
I still might cast my a spell –
I shall compete with language sweet,
And use my English well.