Friday, August 12, 2016

Advice from a life coach: More linguistic issues

Over the summer I have collected a few items that need not be discussed at great length, but are worth mentioning, and I'm raring to go with them.

Raring to go? Raring? This is where dictionaries fail you. Raring comes from rearing, as in horses rising on their hind legs in eagerness, thus turning the word raring into a synonym for eager. Really? Has anyone ever used raring in any way other than as a prelude to "to go"? No one says raring beaver, do they? Your basic dictionaries would have you believe otherwise, the lying crooked Hillaries that they are. Which reminds me that beavering is an anagram for bereaving, and if you look up anagram on Google it asks you if you meant nag a ram. Cute. You know, Google, if I wanted a joke, I would have asked for it. Jeesh.

The word galoot is of disputed if not totally lost origin, but we all know what it means. And we usually attach the word big in front of it, although it would seem to be unnecessary. There is not much difference between being a galoot and being a big galoot, but on the other hand, no one ever uses the expression little galoot. Except maybe in preschool teachers' lounges: "That Johnny Jones is a real little galoot." I can't say, because I seldom frequent preschool teachers' lounges. In fact, you might say I infrequent preschool teachers' lounges, except, of course, that some words don't have opposites, even when those opposites exist. Like everyone's basic inept and ept. James Thurber liked these sort of words. You should be reading Thurber now instead of me, but you makes your cherces and there you be. 

A friend of mine recently quoted Cecil Adams, creator of The Straight Dope (seek it out), thus: "Sir, if ignorance were corn flakes, you would be General Mills." You might want to remember that one; it will probably come in handy. I'll add one of my own: so-and-so is like a lip syncher at a karaoke bar. It is always a good idea to have a few insults handy that take the insultee a minute or two to figure out, giving you enough time to make a run for it before suffering any physical damage. Call somebody a big galoot, and you will be eating a galootian knuckle sandwich a second later. Quote Cecil Adams, and by the time they figure it out, you'll be halfway to San Bernardino. 

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