It is a blooming miracle that the English language has lasted as long as it has, if you consider the number of axe-wielders who had been out to change it over the centuries. Nowadays we have a special class of
individuals, radio and television commentators, dedicated to that special task, murdering English.
Deceased comedian George Carlin took these people to task during his lifetime for their butchering of the common tongue. Most persons consider Carlin only a sassy, social-critic comedian who used a lot of dirty words in his act. But he was also something of a language scholar. In his book Braindroppings Carlin gave the broadcast industry a bite on the ear for its many linguistic atrocities. Among their other mistakes he assured them that:
- A light-year is a measure of distance not time.
- An acronym is not just any set of initials. It applies only to those that are pronounced as words. MADD, DARE, NATO, and UNICEF are acronyms. FBI, CIA, and KGB are not.
- Irony is “a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result.” If a diabetic on his way to buy insulin is killed by a runaway truck, he is the victim of an accident. If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence. But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah! Then he is the victim of an irony. Continue reading