Let me get right down to it folks, I have it on good authority that within the next two years we may become witness to one of the most profound changes in American life imaginable. I’m not talking about the stamping out of political corruption, nor a sudden, seemingly miraculous, turn toward competency in the news media; no I’m talking about the obliteration and recasting of the english language itself. If you can read you truly can’t afford not to read this post.
It seems that approximately 6 years ago an anonymous citizen gifted the then fresh and fancy-free president George W. Bush with an 1888 edition of the book The Orthoepist by one Alfred Ayers, Nom de plum of Thomas Embly Osmun. (Osmun had devoted himself to orthoepy - the art and study of correct pronunciation of words - and elocution. The Orthoepist was the first of 8 volumes he published on the subjects.) We must assume that the gift was meant as a jibe at the President whose pronouncements, noteworthy for all the wrong reasons, had already begun to be referred to as Bushisms. (A double-jibe perhaps in that the word “orthoepy” has long since gone out of use and its pronunciation is itself a source of debate.) This little joke may have begun a chain reaction, the unintentional consequences of which would remove any whiff of the initial humor and leave in its stead the effluvium of a transformed language.
Bush received his copy of The Orthoepist just this year, after the screening process undertaken for all whitehouse mail in general, which was followed by the even more involved vetting for printed matter in particular, which it may interest you to know includes but is by no means limited to the following: author background checks, ideological screenings, NSA wiretaps of author / immediate family / descendant’s phone lines, CIA / FBI records cross-checks, Black-list cross-checks, Cryptographic screenings, print dusting, value appraisals, gathering of existent critical analysis, pre-reading by no less than 2 aides, highlighting, and intern-typed summations (all of which often result in packets of accompanying information as long or indeed longer than the item in question itself). After being tossed through these various hoops for nearly five years the volume, accompanied by a 209 page report and related materials, landed on The Presidents desk.
Now we have heard a great deal lately about the President’s surprisingly energetic reading habits. 60 books thus far this year including Shakespeare and Camus. That’s a lot of reading (not to mention thousands of man-hours wrapped up in the vetting process outlined above) so it’s no wonder that, according to my source (whom admittedly is not infallible), Bush didn’t actually read The Orthoepist once it finally made it’s way to him. He was busy, obviously, catching up on the his highschool reading list. He did, however, flip through some of the accompanying material during a commercial break in the WWE’s SmackDown wrestling telecast. As it turns out a certain bit of highlighted text from an 1882 issue of The Century caught his eye.
Whether these lines caught the President’s eye because his aides are so well trained at picking out and highlighting exactly the words which might interest him or whether a lifetime’s worth of constant correction and lampooning have given him a “pronunciation complex” we can’t be sure. From His first words as a child of 6 right up until the day he was sworn into the office of the presidency George W. Bush had been corrected on his use of the english language by every G.E.D. level smart-ass he’s come across. Even his most ass-sniffingly accomplished sycophants snicker occasionally. That kind of thing does something to a man, and it does something even worse to a damn near retarded man. The fact remains though that reading these two lines initiated that rare event which passes for a shattering epiphany in our president’s mind, an idea.
As best as my source can make out, seeing, for the first time, in highlighted text no less, (and in very close proximity to the words “holy grail”) the sentiment that language is not static and that there is room for interpretation - a sentiment which flew directly in the face of every childhood taunt and every Presidential-wedgie he’d received since taking office - well… It was tremendously exciting for him. So much so that after no more time than it took to drink 4 Hard Lemonades he’d re-envisioned not only his his Presidency (as one which might in fact make it into the books as something other than a destructive string of utter failures) but his already famous Bushisms as well. Perhaps, if he used his final two years well, he could be remembered as “The Great Orthoepist” rather than the “Incompetent Destroyer” or the “Lenny of the American Presidency?”
The logic goes something like this: why, if “the pronunciations given are not the only ones in good usage” as fine, noble Mr. Ayers says, couldn’t America “teach the controversy” in Grammar? It had worked in the Sciences. Today a majority of American’s polled no longer believed in that confusing Evolution stuff! Why couldn’t the same transformation be visited upon the English language itself?! He, George W. Bush, the average Joe’s President, the President guy’s all over the country wanted to share a few brewskies with, could be an admired coiner of words rather than a retched mangler of them. He could take the podium with confidence and speak in the manner the good lord impelled him to! He could take some liberties with those damned foreign names. He could speak in tongues if the spirit moved him. He imagined comic book versions of his own great moments and public addresses, peppered throughout with “Bushisms” now cherished by the children and deep into common usage! How wonderful it could be.
Having, since that great day of realization, brought his idea to friends in high places via aides in high places matters have mutated. A close advisor explained to the President that the idea could be taken even further; that throughout the ages alternate language systems have been developed which were less complex, less obtuse, and free of all the strange rules and exceptions which always seemed to trip him up. In point of fact there were a great many of them to choose from, any of which might, through a little palm-greasing and favor-granting, eventually supplant the reigning American english as the official language of the greatest nation on Earth. Not only could a radical new orthoepy be brought to bear but so too could orthography itself be rewritten, liberating lazy 3rd graders and lifetime-long poor spellers as well. It would be quite a legacy for a President so often “misunderestimated.”
Hearing murmurs of this language creators across the country have begun rallying their troops and pinching their pennies. Word on the hill is that before long the “language lobbies” will be a new force in American politics.
It may sound hard to believe but the truth is that by appealing to his base on this issue (which is comprised largely of people who wear monocles and have others do their reading for them, or alternately, people who don’t read because… well… they are unable. Not to mention the sizable portion to whom logic and reason are no great shakes, and hence, no boundary) a new national language might be closer than you think. And no, I’m not talking about Spanish.
According to my source some of the many alternate systems vying for favor at this very moment are:
In truth the list offered to me by my source was just too long to reproduce here, but this page is a decent start.
What I can say is that though the President has not read about it in any great detail whatsoever, word is that he is strongly favoring Stephen Chase Houghton’s constructed language based entirely on its name, which he thinks “sounds pretty bad-ass.”
I can’t say for sure how this will shake out but obviously the President only has two years to make his lingua-dreams a reality, and according to my source he will do everything in his already sore and chaffed power to do exactly that. So if you open the New York Post one day and find a headline which looks like it ought to be on the front of a child’s Lemonade stand, remember, you heard it here first.
I for one am gonna try to grab a piece of the pie for myself! C U Laytr Sukus!