Sorry I haven’t been updating this blog. I’m in the final throes of editing The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English on top of a very busy work schedule. Generally Lexiteria’s business drops in July and August but this year it actually increased over May and June, just as the book requires my full attention.
It goes to press Monday, so I will have more time to think about language more generally and return to trying to keep up with the US media’s assault on the language. In the meantime, I received a chain e-mail with a routine by George Carlin that all those interested in language and ageing should enjoy. Carlin’s eye for the humorous in language was uncanny. Here is what he noticed about the way we speak of getting older.
George Carlin on Aging
Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions.
‘How old are you?’
‘I’m fourand a half!’
You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five! That’s the key.
You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.
‘How old are you?’
‘I’m gonna be 16!’
You could be 13, but hey, you’re GONNA BE 16! And then the greatest day of your life!
You BECOME 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. You BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!
But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There’s no fun now, you’re just a sour-dumpling.. What’s wrong? What’s changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH
50 and your dreams are gone…
But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. Whew! As if you didn’t think you would!
So you BECOME 21, you TURN 30, you PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE IT to 60.
You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it’s a day-by-day thing; you HIT Monday, you HIT Tuesday, you HIT Wednesday!
You GET INTO your 80’s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; ‘I WAS JUST 92.’
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again.
‘I’m 100 and a half!’
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half.