YES! JOIN FOR FREE!
Enter your address below to receive free email alerts when a new comic or a blog post is published:
You may unsubscribe easily at any time & your email will never be shared with anyone!
SHARE
FOLLOW
SEARCH
EAGANBLOG ARCHIVE
Explore the current collection.

Just Say Suck
Perhaps I should be more forgiving. At this point, however, I think it’s too late to change. I am perfectly happy, it seems, to hold people fully accountable for their sins of pronunciation.

The day I have dreaded for so long arrived last week. I knew it would come eventually, but it still hit me hard. I actually heard someone say that they had managed to successfully “access a web page.” That may not seem alarming because you are reading this, not hearing it. My torment came from how the word was pronounced — “assess,” rather than “ak-sess.”

I had waged a brief, hopeless war in the 90s against the conversion of “access” into a verb. I knew I could not win against any coinage backed by the full force of the digital revolution, which had adopted the new usage without question. Part of me recognized that it filled a growing need in that province of our brave new world. I still don’t like hearing it, but I have come to accept (“ak-sept”) it.

This new experience with the word, however, has delivered a setback to my belief system. As an avowed Prescriptivist, I tend to fret over any change to the language, including to its pronunciation. Perhaps I just like having a reliable set of rules that we can all go to when communication needs to be clear and precise. Or maybe I’m just a control freak. Either way, I don’t feel comfortable with the Descriptivists’ philosophy. For them, acceptable standards of usage are simply reflections of whatever convention happens to be current at any given moment. If enough people are using the language in a certain way, then that fad becomes a guidepost for other users.

To me, this is chaos. There are no rules in a Descriptivist universe, only whims that shift with the latest meme. I have no doubt that those subscribing to such a doctrine lead lives uncomplicated by stress or lexemic guilt, but such an existence is not for me.

My theory is that the trend away from the hard /k/ sound in access and other similar words began with some folks’ dislike of the sound of the word succinct. The correct prescriptive pronunciation here is “suck-sinct.” It is my belief that people didn’t like to hear the ugliness of “suck” come out of their mouths and began (mis)pronouncing the word as “sussinct.” This misplaced value judgment has now opened the door to a changed pronunciation of other double-c words.

Descriptivists no doubt shrug their shoulders at such mutations. It is my curse that I cannot. What is happening here is a loss of clarity. I prefer the use of “ak-sess” to “assess” because assess is already a word, and it means something entirely different from the new one. Among other things, this is highly unfair to a perfectly good word. Assess has now lost its integrity, at least as a spoken word. It has become two-faced, with two etymological lineages, and two confused meanings.

There would be no such confusion with the mispronunciation “sussinct,” of course. Saying it, in fact, simply creates a whole new word. Still, I sense that it is wrong to do this. Do we need a new word? Do we just forsake the old word? Is the only reason for this change our delicate sensibilities? Do we really want to abandon the opportunity to say “suck” any time and place we want without fear of objection?

So, you see that there are consequences to these willy-nilly changes in our language. I do not endorse the Prescriptivist view just because I am a control freak (that’s just a happy accident [ak-sident]). In my view, we are tempting the forces of darkness each time we countenance these “harmless” alterations to our native tongue.

Let me acknowledge, however, that spellings that employ the double-c are a problematic oddity in the English language. As you know, the unaspirated allophone for the phenome /k/ with an accompanying palatal coarticulation is not always called into play in such a configuration. Accordion, tobacco, impeccable, accuse, and many other words fall in this category. So do some of our Italian imports, such as broccoli and piccolo.

Yes, it’s confusing, but are we going to let that keep us from doing the right thing? Of course not. There are layers and layers of sound linguistic reasoning we could delve into here that explain how all this works, but I don’t want to bore you with that. Instead, let me bore you with this sad truth: follow the rules, or everyone will suffer.

There is no Language God to enforce this edict, and no Language Hell to threaten as punishment. As a control freak, then, my only power is your common sense. I know I can count on you to try to do the right thing. In that, I wish you suck-sess.
View from the Solstice
The nights
Will be shorter now
As we push on
Toward the light

Let the sun
Grow strong
Let it illuminate
Cleanse, purify
Let it kill
Let the corruption
Wither and die
Let the lies
Be burned away
So we can
Start again

Just be sure
To get it all
Because the long nights
Will return
The Future Felon
I am certainly no expert at reading tea leaves. For one thing, I rarely drink tea. For another, it’s damn near impossible when they put them in those little bags. I don’t know, maybe I’m doing something wrong.


Anyway, I also have problems with my political predictions because I tend to let my personal feelings get in the way. One needs detachment to make sound judgments about the future. The leaves I am trying to read here are those that pertain to the future of the current resident of the White House. I am way too emotionally involved with this topic. It’s so bad, I can’t even stand to speak his name, much less forecast the exact date of his eviction.

For a while, like most people, I was basing my projections on his actions. Ever since he entered presidential politics and began doing the unthinkable, I and everyone else have been predicting his fall. But each time, no matter what the offense, he has escaped and moved on, seemingly unscathed. And so we see that none of those outrages-of-the-day has been any help in our political prognostication. So now I intend to focus on the words and actions of other people. Is there something in their response to He-who-must-not-be-named that might somehow hint at our future?

Again, let me stress that I’ve had very little success with this kind of fortune telling. Not only can I not bear to speak his name, the mere thought of it summons the taste of bile in my mouth. It clouds my thinking. For a while, I was projecting that he’d be out by Washington’s Birthday, 2018. Even though that was only a joke designed to get a rise out of people, I was genuinely crushed when it didn’t happen.

But that was before. This time, I am trying to leave my feelings (and any direct thoughts about him) out of it. Instead, I will go with an evidence-based approach. Scientific leaf reading, if you like. Let me give you an example: just today, Judge Andrew Napolitano — on Fox and Friends, of all places — suggested that Goldfungus may in fact be guilty of a felony for authorizing that hush money for Stormy Daniels. For a regular talking head over at Fox News, this would ordinarily amount to heresy.

Fox’s Laura Ingraham, lantern-jawed defender of the Orange Julius Caesar, dared to disagree with his recent assertion that The Wall has already been partly built. Though she didn’t say so, she was siding with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on that one. When was the last time something like that happened? Tucker Carlson has been tough on the president for over a year now (mainly because he wasn’t rabid enough about immigrants), but recently Tucker has added such jibes as “unfocused” and “boastful” (gosh, really?) to his list of complaints.

I don’t want to make too much of these examples. Fox remains, after all, the main megaphone for White House apologists and conspiracy mongers. Still, I see a trend. Michael Ramirez, a prominent right-wing colleague of mine (strong art, at least) produced a cartoon last week depicting T.Reeks as repellently ugly and even a tad cray-cray. That is unprecedented ink, coming from that pen.

And then there are all the people who decided not to take the job of White House Chief of Staff. That’s a rough total of 7.7 billion people (minus Mean Mick Mulvaney, who will soon join me in regretting the day he was born). That’s a lot of tea leaves, and they all seem to be saying that no sane person wants to get anywhere near the Cheeto-in-Chief.

And, lastly, there are ex-pals Michael Cohen and David Pecker (look it up in the dictionary — that’s his picture you see). They have both turned against the Bellowing Tangelo in a big way, transforming their undying support into dead weights around his bloated, bottle-bronze neck.

The Big Bag of Leaves is the Senate Republicans. I don’t see any of those leaves turning quite yet. Still, you hear plenty of scuttlebutt about deep dissatisfaction among these G.O.P. poohbahs. That disgruntlement will only go public once we get the long-awaited report from Robert Swan Mueller III. That may well be the biggest tea leaf of all, but it’s still not here. If the trend continues, however, the end may well be near.

And it will continue. My scientific leaf reading confirms that it wilI. What it doesn’t confirm is when, so I guess we’ll just have to be patient. Sometime, maybe even sooner than we think, the season will be over for the Golden Hate Warrior.

Okay, I know that prediction sucks. We’d all prefer to know exactly when it’s going to happen. As you know, however, tea leaves can be very evasive. They are certain of one thing, though: the Ochre Ogre will go down.
Eminently Qualified
Sadder
But wiser
But slower
But trickier
But weaker
But steadier
But unsteadier
But maturer
But older
first  previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  next  last
image
Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon