Sunday, May 6, 2007

A Trans-Atlantic Exchange

On the comments section of my previous post, Nappy-Headed Dough (no hate mail, please) an amusing exchange slowly evolved with my friend and fellow expat, Grumpy, other wise known as Grumpy Old Expat. As you will see, Grumpy is originally from the British Isles, but has managed through a clever act of self-imposed exile to escape the clutches of both Blair's Labour Government and the European Union in one lateral move, though the EU keeps threatening to absorb, or as Brussels likes to put it, "accept," Turkey.

Anyway, being too lazy or busy at the moment to post anything new, and having been rather pleased by the outcome of our exchange, I decided simply to copy and post our back-and-forth here. If you don't know what we're talking about, go back and read the previous post, or just forget the whole thing and click elsewhere.

grumpy said...


I seem to recall that, once upon a time, this site was in English.
What happened?

May 1, 2007 3:28:00 PM PDT

Black Sea said...

Dear Grumpy,

As I have noted in a previous post, the British "think tank" (boy, could we have some fun with that term) Demos, has already made clear to you tea-sipping snobs that: "the language is no longer the preserve of the English, who are just one of many shareholders in a global asset".

Stop trying to monopolize this global asset, and start sharing with your fellow shareholders!

As you may know, we are to be instructed in, and are to instruct others in, Hinglish, Chinglish, and Spanglish, with further variations to follow, including the sort found in this post.

I've no doubt that Ms. Clinton will take up this banner just as soon as she occupies the White Horse, sorry, House, and will perhaps employ your old chum T. Blair as special consultant.

May 2, 2007 4:28:00 AM PDT

grumpy said...

I would be fine with the 'sharing' idea if you Yanks could be trusted to take care of our joint linguistic heritage. As it is, it seems that you are doing to English in the US what your government is doing for democracy in Iraq. In the process you create something I would call Manglish, or Garblish.

Having said that of course, I have to admit that 'Our Tony' and his minions are doing for our home-grown version of the language what our naval personnel did for heroism in Iran recently. Surrendering it. The result in the UK is Yoblish.

So far as the redoubtable Mrs Clinton and 'Our Redeemer' Saint Tony are concerned, I would paraphrase the old Vaudeville joke: Take our Tony. Please.

May 6, 2007 12:48:00 AM PDT

grumpy said...


Sorry to take up your space, but I have just looked at the Fat Wayne/Little Joe video (with the sound off, of course). Now I have a question; Since the principals in the video demonstrate that they are totally devoid of taste in every other respect, how come they have such great taste in hoes?

May 6, 2007 1:08:00 AM PDT

Black Sea said...


I take your point about the "English in America, Democracy in Iraq" argument, though I object to being referred to as a "Yank" for reasons having less to do with the British-American linguistic debate than with my archaic and no doubt pathological regional loyalties.

Anyway, "Yank" must be preferable to your now infamous "Half-educated Rednecked Bigot," soon re-coined on another website into the less cumbersome acronym "Herb." Who says we "Yanks" have no sense of humor?

But I digress. As to the point that America is doing to democracy in Iraq what it has been doing to the English language for decades (centuries?), let me suggest an alternate analogy.

Democracy in Iraq is not so much equivalent to American English, which though perhaps debased, draws on a long and glorious history, as it is a political equivalent of Esperanto, a wholly inorganic construct which no one seems to practice, though everyone admits it's "a good idea."

Evidently, we human beings are more creatures of custom and culture than of bold horizons and bright new ideas. How sad for us.

Oh, and I think you owe it to yourself to view the Fat Joe video clip with the sound on. Otherwise, you deprive yourself of its full charm. I actually like the song (don't ask me why) or at least, it has tenaciously lodged itself in my brain, perhaps due to the stunning visual impact of the hoes employed as scenery.

What's more, I think the video and lyrics together offer a pretty accurate portrait of the current American political scene:

"Yeah, I'm in this business of terror
Got a handful of stacks
Better grab an umbrella
I make it rain . . . "

More articulate than anything ever to come out of our president's mouth.

May 6, 2007 4:28:00 AM PDT


Anonymous said...

I consider my knuckles well and truly rapped! No longer will I classify you as a Yank - I really do know better.

So far as the 'Half-educated redecked bigot' epithet is concerned, you do me an injustice; as you well know the term was coined in order to explain how my prejudice had been overcome. I had assumed that that had been understood, especially by the blogger who now rejoices in the name 'herb'.

Regardless of how one categorises the onslaught on the English language, it is clear that the threat is real; although people continue to talk about English as 'the international language of...' as though it were but a single, uniform entity. Yet, every day, while I cringe before yet another series of solecisms committed by the good old BBC, I worry about how - should I ever return to the UK - I am going to make myself understood. At least, while I am here in Turkey, teaching what I consider to be English, I can avoid having to face reality.

In this spirit, I will decline your offer to turn up the sound on Fat Joe and, instead, feast my eyes on the hoedown taking place behind him.

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