Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chop, mince, season

Over the years of stating my (often dubious) opinions all over the World Wide Web I have acquired the reputation of 'one who does not mince words'. Curiously enough, it is precisely the minced quality of certain words - and, by extension, expressions - which makes me enjoy (ab)use of English so much.

Then again, I did have the misfortune of growing up in the socialist times...

Speaking of which, do you have any idea how pathetic Sir Hiss would sound back then, dubbed? "You, sir, have taken my seat!" could have easily become "You, comrade, have confiscated my couch!" and yours truly would have been denied the pleasure of discovering the potential for bitchiness in that single-syllable honorific.

Imagine the detriment to mankind.

Fortunately, my parents had the foresight to insist on nurturing my talent for non-Slavic languages and completely un(Eastern)orthodox behaviour - otherwise you sorry lot would have been served pages upon pages of oppressive prose instead of the speculation salad you've all become used to.

I might not know how to mince words, but socialist scribes sucked even at chopping the wordcount. Trust me, you're better off this way.

Giving credit where credit is due, though... the unfortunate vernacular of the social system of my youth did have its moments - especially in public transport of the time.

"Would you be so kind to allow the old lady to leave the vehicle... sir?"
"Don't you 'sir' me! I'm not a gentleman, I'm a..."
"I never would have guessed.... друже."

Camaraderie with random plebeians: because indignant sputter in the face of suavity never gets old.

"O tempora o mores!", indeed...


  1. Fortunately, my parents had the foresight to insist on nurturing my talent for non-Slavic languages

    Unlike mine, who were shocked to realize I had taught myself how to read and was learning it from reading subtitles on the telly... :D

  2. A short story I really enjoyed (no title, sorry, and all I recall of the author is that he was a Jew from Eastern Europe, I read the story in an anthology) consisted of a conversation between an elderly Polish Jew and a Communist official. He addressed this august personage consistently as "Pany tovarishch", which I absolutely loved.