I’ve been reflecting shallowly about the English language , and about Englishmen , and about how we got here to writing blogs , and reading/writing poetry , and other stuff like that . By “we” , I should say , I don’t necessarily mean to imply “me” . If I’d meant “me” , probably I’d have inserted “me” into the text of this post . Maybe I’d have meant “me” , though , but would have written “I” . There are rules .
First , I should say , some of my best friends are Englishmen . Well , one . He works for a Made-in-England boss who pretends to be an Irishmen . That Brit’s claim’s based on the fact that his family vacationed in the southwest of Ireland in the old days where they kept a sailboat and hung around in local pubs drinking up the local lore , and , I think , learning Blarney .
My Irish grandmother held on to all the ancient prejudices against the English . When she said that the devil lived in London , she meant the devil lived in London . I don’t know who , exactly , she had in mind . Maybe , had she ever gone to London , she’d have looked around for his red horned and hoofed presence walking the streets . She wasn’t much of a fan of the concept of evolution , either , as I remember . Evolution was , no doubt , a devilish English invention.
My English friend finally caved in a couple of years ago and got his American citizenship . He’d thought it over for twenty or so years , weighed the pros and cons , and decided finally to jump on in . The government guy giving him the verbal citizenship quiz , or whatever it is , asked him to read this sentence : ” I always pay my taxes “. My friend , raised and educated in England , hesitated amidst some slight shock , and then said that he’d do his level best and try .
Last night this relatively new American told us about his recent bout with jury duty . It was a federal case . The defendant had broken a door attached to a federal building . He said the FBI was there sitting at the table with the prosecutors . My friend told the judge during the process of choosing a jury that there was nothing that would keep him from being able to make a fair decision , but that he wouldn’t be in favor of the death penalty . He said he was definitely opposed to that .
He told the story about his jury duty right in the middle of our Thursday pool game . It was his turn to shoot , as a matter of fact too , but we all had to listen to his long-winded tale . That would have been okey-dokey , except that some of his facts seemed to be contradictory , and he stretched the rendition out so slapdashedly and shaggy-doggishly that he was eventually relating in glorious detail what he thought the judge was thinking about him , how the judge loved his wisecracks but how the lawyers didn’t seem to , how the judge wanted to keep him on the jury but the lawyers didn’t want to , and how if the defense kicks someone off then the government gets to kick one off , so they were desperately trying to get the judge to kick him off so that they wouldn’t have to play one of their cards , but the judge refused , etc. And he has this London accent that , when he gets excited and talks fast , is nearly incomprehensible to the American ear . I tried once or twice to quiz him on his facts as he excitedly voiced his confusing story , but there was no stopping him . He got kicked off the jury panel , by the way , and they sent him home , calling it a day , I suppose , and probably scratching their heads about the whole episode . The English language , of course , is a mix of French , Saxon , Viking , and a few other older lingos like Latin , Greek , Celtic and Pictish ( not to mention nonsense , jibberish , and baby talk ) And , of course , we’ve got the contributions from the Italians , like “pizza” , ” pepperoni ” , and the north end of Boston . There’s “cookie” , “yacht” , and “Dutch Boy Paints” from the Dutch , and “skunk” , ” Winnebago” , and “Indian Casino” from the native Americans. The Mexicans , of course , contributed “tacos”, “burritos” , chimichangas” , and “illegal alien” to the language .
By the time the American colonies got going , it might have been wise for the English to either : 1. simplify ; throw it all out and choose a new language ( Gaelic , perhaps, or Spanish . Nothing wrong with Spanish . ) , or 2. once and for all pick one of the various accents in England and go for that one ( BBC language not withstanding ) . As it is , English in England is way too hard to understand . More on that subject will have to wait for future posts . It’s too deep of a trough to delve into now.
Getting back to poetry :
I might get one of those novelty books with every page completely blank . The title on the cover would be : ALL THAT I KNOW ABOUT POETRY and HOW TO ENJOY IT
And yet , here I am writing a meandering silly blog in what we still call the ” English ” language . (Let’s not get into the discussion of English vs. American languages . Maybe later. Maybe another time and place) . But , get this : you’re reading it . (No comment on that .)Relax ! What did you expect from this post ? Poetry ? In my best American now : Have a nice day !