Saturday, June 03, 2006

'Sup Y'all?!

Those of you who are familiar with KSL-TV in Salt Lake City may remember a thin, gray-mustached man with glasses who used to deliver the KSL editorials after the evening news. That man's name is Don Gale. While Gale is no longer the calm, unwavering voice behind those editorials, he continues to make his opinions known through the occasional editorial page article in the Deseret News.

I would include a few links to Gale's witty articles, but they are not posted on the D-News site. I could possibly transcribe today's article, but I feel as though that is not quite right. Instead, I will quote and paraphrase so you may enjoy Gale's comments as well. Be warned, though. This may cause spontaneous laughter. At least I hope it does.

Gale begins his article by congratulating the U.S. Senate for having passed a (toothless) bill naming English the official language of the United States of America. Immediately, Gale calls for Americans to go after those who don't really use English.

Who was first on Gale's list? Hispanic restaurant workers? Japanese software developers? Pakistani cab drivers? No, no, and no. The first group to be targeted by Gale was the fine people of Texas. Example? How about the word "y'all"? Is that really a word? Did that get used in any preliminary round of last week's National Spelling Bee? I think not.

Gale next took on the lawyers of our litigation-happy country. When I was in college, a roommate of mine was called to translate at a local court for a man from Italy who spoke no English. That roommate spoke English and Italian. No problem, right? Well, it wouldn't be a problem if lawyers spoke English, but they don't. They pretend to speak Latin with the occasional interjection of "objection". Isn't that how the legal system works? We have a system of laws so complicated that we have to revert to an ancient language no one speaks to get our point across in some super-efficient manner? Sure it is.

How about the doctors? Gale took his stab (pun intended) at them too. While lawyers are busy learning how to use old Latin phrases out of context, the doctors are in classes where they learn to pull letters out of the Scrabble bag and create new words to name your most recent ailment. Go ahead and try it for yourself. Next time you feel ill, grab your Scrabble game out of the closet. Pull out a handful of tiles. There is no limit to the number of tiles you need to use. I would personally suggest pulling out the biggest handful you can. This will make your word that much more believable when you call the doctor with a self-diagnosis. This method will suffice until the doctors learn to say, "The reason you hurt is because there is something in you that I need to take out." What's so hard about that?

Gale also devoted a few paragraphs to the words used on menus. There are laws in the U.S. requiring truth in advertising, but it seems interesting to me that companies seldom have to explain what it is their product actually is. We all know what a Big Mac is, but what is it really? Then there are the non-branded names that Gale points out; souffle, pasta, crepe, and burrito. Mark Cuban's favorite mystery food is the chulupa. At Wasatch Bagels in Park City, I enjoy eating muffletta. What kind of a name is that? Gale points out that if we referred to foods by what they were made of, we would probably all eat a lot healthier.

Anyway, I deduce that Gale's point involves the fact that Americans don't really speak the purest form of English. The Senate's latest bill does nothing to improve the parent-child, male-female, or boss-employee communications. That is the bill that I believe would be much more worthwhile. As for this waste of time, I'm glad the Senators had time to fit it in to their busy schedules--right after the unresolved immigration debates and before figuring out the solutions to Social Security, Medicare (plans A, B, C, D...), and Iraq. Way to be, Senators. Consider this your pat on the back.

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