Toxic

Toxic

Poison and venom – the diff’rence between them
Is pedantry.
Biologists may take exception,
But only they should.
Most of the rest of us navigate life
Quite pleasantly
With a definition that’s still close-enough
To be good.

Momma Tongue

varient of the Hot Lips logo by John Pasche

Momma Tongue

There are five times as many Yankees
Speaking English as the English,
So who’s English do you think will win ?
Whatever the linguistic tankies wish,
We’re just a little fish –
Perhaps it’s time to take it on the chin ?
Or, to be overt (and probably incite your wrath) –
You do the math !

Ow !, that hurt.
So stark and ess-less on the page,
Just stoking up my British rage –
Yet kids today are fine to say it –
They don’t care, it’s just a thing you say,
Like missing out the pointless yoos
And adding honest zees
That they know we’ll criticize –
They choose to do it anyway,
These wize-guys.

So what’s my beef ?
Am I so shaky in my self-belief
I have to wave my flag
At quickening American ?
Does my inner Anglo-Saxon gag
And want to ban their New-World-ness ?
Well, yes…I guess.
But it’s all just arbitrary guff,
And how long can I really bluff
Until I must admit, their way makes sense ?
Time to quit – don’t be a bore,
For in this theater of war,
My double els are no defense.

I know I have no chance tonite
To tell the kids what they can say –
Just as my teachers had no right
To scold me for ‘okay’.
But oh !, it hurts to hear my cherished forms
Be cast away.
Yet if the kids choose that instead of this,
Well, who the hell am I then
To dismiss them for their choice ?,
As if I have a voice they’d listen to.
So on they plow their furrow
By their dollar, yard, and boro –
For kids will always marvel at what’s noo.

I can assure you that it isn’t only Americans who can make wrath and math rhyme. There are so many other voices than RP, despite the OED’s attempts to pretend otherwise.

By the way, I can’t help thinking the last line looks less New York and more Scottish ! I suppose I could say ‘nu’ instead, but I think that will lokk even stranger.

Whenceforth

A Schoolmaster Punishing One of his Pupils by Jan Steen

Whenceforth

Whence ‘from whence’ ?
It makes no sense,
It just means ‘from from where’.
But then again,
It sounds so vain
And old-world debonair.
It looks contrived
That we’ve revived
Such quaint and frilly bull.
We just don’t need
The added speed
To drop a syllable –
So don’t correct
Our speech unchecked,
Don’t leap to its defence –
It’s overstayed,
So let it fade,
And cease all use, from hence.

RAS Syndrome

Three women from Winterthur by David Sulzer – nothing to do with the poem, but I like the fact that they look like triplets

RAS Syndrome

So what if it’s redundant
To repeat the words we say
In a PDF format
Or an LCD display ?
That’s just what you get
When you over-shorten-down
So your acronym comprises of
Both adjective and noun.

So what if they’re redundant
In their final acronemes ?
We’ll always have PIN numbers
For our ATM machines.
Cos that’s just human nature,
So triumphant to a T –
But if you wish to argue it,
Then please RSVP.

RAS Syndrome stands for ‘Redundant Acroneme Syndrome Syndrome’.  An acroneme is a single letter within an acronym.  I just made the latter up, and I’m really pleased with it.  According to Wiktionary it also means “the slender section of a flagellum”, but it doesn’t give any citation, so I win – QED demonstated !

Vanity

Vanity

“Van Go”, he said, thus mangling it
Quite in the American style –
Yet in the accent of a Brit,
From maybe Preston or Carlisle.
So natur’ly I had to cough
And stem this slovenly display –
“I think you’ll find it’s said ‘Van Goff’,
Misspoken in the English way.”

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

Photo by Sablove on Pexels.com

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 punch-in those plosives, and ring-out that final G.

Transient Verses

blur book stack books bookshelves
Photo by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com

 

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

aerial view of road between green grass field
Photo by TruShotz on Pexels.com

 

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

north america book and toke book
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

 

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.