25 April 2009

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

~ Chronia Polla ~

Happy Birthday, indeed, Willie boy and EB: has it really been 50 years?

If ever this article had a readership, it's right here with the Corfucian Irregulars .

I love language and I know I've aged towards a certain maturity because I no longer rise to the challenge like some twitchy Horst Buchholz-type gunfighter literatus, desperate to know he owns 'language'.

In fact, my greatest pleasure lies in subtle abuse, preferably to an audience who will correct or smirk among themselves.

I remember loving Mountain Man's memory of teaching English as She is Spoke to Koreans and at the end of the day collapsing into the teacher's Common Room and, with a colleague, treating themselves to the most hideously broken anglais they could come up, breaking every rule and massacring the rest (and doesn't that look like a mis-spelling? You try writing it 'massacring' and I defy you not to hesitate for a teensy nano-second over an added 'e'). Heh heh: he said 'teensy'and 'nano'.

I think there was the added joy of the head beak coming in and beaming with paternal pride as he cocked an ear to his profs' exquisite English of Shakespeare and Milton, before reeling back in horror as it dawned on him what sort of mangled illiteracy his pupils' were being fed.

My tongue itches to have been there and I'm envisaging a parlour game charade: You have been hired at great expense to teach English to foreigners. The headmaster was also educated abroad and knows the language. You and a colleague want to give him a shock. You have 1 minute to deliver a convincing but fractured soliloquy.

Here in Greece - once the tan sets in - I am often corrected over grammar or accent by know-all foreigners who take me for an upstart waiter. I don't help matters by misbehaving such as last year when some Lord and Lady Muck came in and were muttering about whether they could trust the bar staff to mix and decent G&T.

"Na so po .. I am helpless from eavesdropping your interrogative of the beverage attendant's skill for potency gin and the juice of tonics. Please be avowed that I have personally of my self sampled the concoction of his hand and its acceptance is promised."

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