Winston Churchill’s Way With Words

We have a president who loves to make speeches, but there is a gap spanning the space between his oratory and his heart.  After almost sever years and words ad nauseum, who can believe a word he utters?

Our present age, challenged by specters few understand cries out for a leader to rally this nation’s greatness and unify us under a banner, red, white and blue with a spangle of stars to eclipse the cultural diversity at whose altar so many worship. We used to be a melting pot, but now inflamed fractions of competing cultures, persuaded that their slice of the American pie  is somehow owed to them, no longer grateful, are envious, suspicious and, most of all, impatient.

Who can lead us out of this enveloping darkness. Where is the man with more than hollow words and empty heart? I long for a Churchill.  President John F. Kennedy, himself a man with a message for our nation and his time, said of Winston Churchill:

"In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone — and most men save Englishmen despaired of England’s life — he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."

This podcast will throw a little light on the making of such a man.

Winston Churchill’s Way With Words via npr.org

Words and Gender

H/T Julie D.Happy Catholic who directs us to some light-hearted linguistic thinkers at Coffee Klatch. They were challenged to assign a gender to English words and expain. Here’s a sampling:

KIDNEYS – female, because they always go to the bathroom in pairs.

TIRE – male, because it goes bald and often is over-inflated.

HOT AIR BALLOON — male, because to get it to go anywhere you have to light a fire under it … and, of course, there’s the hot air part.

SPONGES – female, because they are soft and squeezable and retain water.

WEB PAGE — female, because it is always getting hit on.

SHOE – male, because it is usually unpolished, with its tongue hanging out.

Cockamamie – Interesting

I admit it; I love words.  Here’s what I didn’t know about “cockamamie”:

COCKAMAMIE. “‘Cockamamie’ means something worthless or trifling, even absurd or strange; a ‘cockamamie’ excuse or story is an implausible, ridiculous one. The word may be a corruption of ‘decalcomania’ (‘a cheap picture or design on specially prepared paper that is transferred to china, wood, etc.’), a word youngsters on New York’s Lower East Side early in the century found tiring to pronounce and impossible to spell.” From “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson (Fact on File, New York, 1997).

“Cockamamie is the child’s version of ‘decalcomania,’ dye transfers that youngsters used to put on their hands and arms. Since they were cheap, they soon wore off. So, ‘cockamamie’ first meant anything trifling or second-rate, and later came to mean simply silly or laughable.” From “Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins” by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

War Games to Word Games

‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ in other words,’a rose is a rose is a rose’ and terror by any other word is still being waged in a dangerous world.

Quoted by the NY Time,  Shannen W. Coffin, who served as counsel to former Vice President Dick Cheney said,

“They seem more interested in the war on the English language than in what might be thought of as more pressing national security matters. An Orwellian euphemism or two will not change the fact that bad people want to kill us and destroy us as a free people.” (my emphasis)

The NY Times Peter Baker says,

“The White House dismisses such criticism, saying the president is not focused on wordsmithing national policy.

Still, the degree to which the Obama team seems intent on distancing itself from any language associated with Mr. Bush has drawn ridicule even from the left. On “The Daily Show” on Tuesday night, Jon Stewart vigorously mocked the Obama administration after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said “the administration has stopped using the phrase” war on terror.

Mr. Stewart showed repeated clips of Mr. Obama’s budget director, Peter R. Orszag, referring instead to “overseas contingency operations.”

Summoning one of the most memorable moments of the Bush presidency, Mr. Stewart then showed a mocked up photograph of Mr. Obama in a pilot’s flight suit on the deck of an aircraft carrier under a banner proclaiming, “Redefinition Accomplished.”

When truth is masked, redefinition by any other name still stinks!