Fancy French Phrases Insult My Intelligence

Because I’m bilingual and have a Ph.D., I usually don’t like to criticize people who use “fancy schmancy” vocabulary; after all, I happen to be one of those people.

Nevertheless, one can misuse sophisticated vocabulary and use (or mandate the use of) intelligent-sounding foreign terms when no need exists for it.

That said, I’d like to introduce you to the cooking term “mise en place.”  In English, this translates loosely as “gather all your shit before you start.”  Something so simple and helpful and obvious shouldn’t sound so daunting.

Obvious means obvious.  If you’re making tacos for your family, this means getting all of your ingredients in one place before you cook.   It also means frying the meat and grating the cheese (etc.) before you begin constructing the tacos.

On the other hand, I suppose you could grab your taco shell, then pull your meat from the refrigerator, then cook the meat, then put the meat in the taco shell, then locate and grate your cheese, then realize you forgot lettuce at the grocery store, then chop lettuce when you return from your emergency shopping trip, then find your sour cream, then smell your sour cream to make sure it isn’t expired, then realize that it is expired, then feed it to your cat, then eat the soggy lukewarm taco that has been waiting for you all this time.

"Gathering all your shit before you start" is also useful if you're hosting a party and plan to play bartender.  (Photo credit: Tannaz)

“Gathering all your shit before you start” is also useful if you’re hosting a party and plan to play bartender. (Photo credit: Tannaz)

 

Lying to Children Insults My Intelligence

Today, I would like to make a public service announcement to all the children who started following my blog after the recent Vagina Monologues post.  I feel that we must teach them the value of orderly speech and behavior.  And so, without further ado, I present to you a special guide for the little ones.

Good morning boys and girls!  I hope you had sweet dreams, dreams of lollipops and cookies and cute little kitty cats.  Your mommy and daddy want you to be happy.  Your mommy and daddy are always right.

Your mommy and daddy also say things you don’t understand.  You should be like mommy and daddy.  You should talk like mommy and daddy.  You should learn what their words mean.

Never stop learning.  (Photo credit: rude cactus)

Never stop learning. (Photo credit: rude cactus)

“Beer” is not for you.  It’s how mommy and daddy make babies.  You can try beer when you’re 28.  By then, you will be finishing “college.”  College is where people learn how to use beer.  These lessons take a very long time.

A “condom” is a small water balloon.  That’s why mommy and daddy are always playing with them.  Ask daddy why the condoms are so small.

“Emphysema” is why the ham tastes so good.  It takes a lot of smoke to make an emphysema.  If mommy keeps smoking, worms will think you taste good too.

Everybody “has sex.”  You are a girl or a boy.  Your daddy is a big boy.  Your mommy is a big girl.  That is their sex.  Tell mommy and daddy every day that they have sex.

“Guns” will make you happy unless the other kids get more of them.  Ask mommy and daddy to buy you guns.  One day, you’ll be allowed to “vote.”  If you have a lot of guns, your “vote” can protect them.  If you vote for guns, you can have a Tea Party.

“Gay marriage” means nothing.  Gay means “happy” and all marriages are happy.  Mommy and daddy are always happy.  Tell mommy and daddy that they have a gay marriage.  If they ask questions, tell mommy that she’s as good as a man.  All women are as good as men.

“The F word” is “fart.”  Tell your teacher that mommy and daddy do the F word on the sofa.  And they do it in the kitchen.  And in the bathroom.   And in the front yard.  If your teacher looks unhappy, just say “pork and beans.”

“Repossessed” means that ghosts now live in your house.  The ghosts want to kill you.   That smaller apartment will save your life.  Mommy and Daddy are crying because they’re so happy.  Tell mommy and daddy that the IRS is glad they’re happy.

“The IRS” are my heroes.  They’re like the Ghostbusters, but they carry better guns.  Guns make people happy.  Call the IRS today and ask them to visit mommy and daddy.

“Schizophrenia” means that you can ask mommy and daddy the same question until you get the answer you want.  They won’t remember they said “no” three times before that.  Schizophrenia makes mommy and daddy better parents.  Look for the word “schizophrenia” on all those tiny little bottles in mommy and daddy’s bathroom.

Forgetting the Little Guy Insults My Intelligence

I’ve grown weary of watching all the big, “interesting” words hog the spotlight. After all, those rock stars are worthless without their sidekicks. Today, I’d like to focus some attention on the most resplendent of those “lesser” linguistic warriors:

The king (a.k.a. King The) has arrived.

The king (a.k.a. King The) has arrived.

King The can dazzle readers with his versatility. Although he maintains a single definition, he can be pronounced two ways to maintain auditory fluidity at all times. He also fills in gaps when things would otherwise sound clumsy or stilted. He even gives eyes a much needed respite between the more acknowledged behemoths of meaning.

Don’t take this as an article of faith. This article is the genuine article.

All hail The!

Relics Insult My Intelligence

People often throw around the word “relic” without giving thought to what they’re saying.  First off, there’s the word’s religious version that refers to the shard of a saint’s bone… among other things.  Then there’s the use of the term to describe something really really old, like this:

When in Rome, roam like the Romans.

One might call this a relic of an ancient civilization.

And then one might refer to an Apple IIe as a technological relic.

And the oldest teacher at your child’s school might be designated a relic as well.

Your dishwasher might also be a relic, though not because of any added respect because of lengthy experience or significance in history.  You probably call it a relic because it’s dead.

And at that point, the word “relic” loses all of its meaning… unless we’re talking about something I own that no longer works properly.  Then it’s a relic because I’m special and, because of that, it’s special too.

Or it would be special if it weren’t broken…

Dictionaries Insult My Intelligence

Patty, the Boobs

This person might be a boob. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was originally going to write a post about stupid people called “Boobs Insult My Intelligence.” However, a funny thing happened on my way to the publish button.

I went to dictionary.com to make sure I was using the word “boob” correctly; I rarely, if ever, hear the word used with its “stupid person” definition.  It turns out that my usage was correct but I discovered that dictionaries have apparently gone through some inappropriate sensitivity training.

According to every dictionary on that website, the reference to female anatomy is listed as the second definition or lower.  (Reminder: the first definition a dictionary lists is supposed to be the word’s most typical usage.)  The first definition for “boob” is always something to the effect of “a stupid person.”

That can’t be right.  If you ask 100 people to define  “boob,” “stupid person” will not enter their minds immediately.

But there’s more!

Etymologically, “boob” originates from “booby.”  Once again, the first definition given for booby is “stupid person.”  In the dictionary based on the 2013 Random House, this other meaning also appears in the first entry for “booby” (and the anatomical slang doesn’t appear until the second entry):

a gannet of the genus Sula,  having a bright bill, bright feet, or both: some are endangered.

The Collins English Dictionary tells us that “booby” can refer to a stupid person, but here are the other two definitions:

2- ( Brit ) the losing player in a game

3- Compare gannet any of several tropical marine birds of the genus Sula : family Sulidae, order Pelecaniformes  (pelicans, cormorants, etc). They have a straight stout bill and the plumage is white with darker markings

English: Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) on the G...

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) on the Galapagos Islands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Collins does not mention anatomy at all.

I realize that “boob” and “booby” are not appropriate terms to use in everyday conversation when referencing a woman’s body… and rightly so.  Still, I find it odd that the most commonly used definition of these words is buried under much less prevalent meanings.  And that’s when the anatomical reference didn’t completely disappear from the dictionary’s listings.

It’s now time for the moral of the story.   Actually, I have three of them for you:

1- You can’t remove an offensive word from the language by removing it from the dictionary.  The word becomes conspicuous through its absence and people will talk about it when they normally wouldn’t.  For example: me, right now.

2- You can’t remove an offensive word from people’s minds by prohibiting its use in polite conversation.  Although I’m writing this post as a serious observation about dictionaries, I’m sure my constant use of the word “boob” will attract substantial snickering… as will the first picture in this post.

3- Dictionaries can be fascinating even when they insult your intelligence… unless you’re a boob.