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Shorthand short-changes the E language

By unknown | Jun 06, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

As I write this from a hotel room, I have just had a short discussion with a hotel cleaner who wanted to know if "that's your MUR, bhuti?".

As I write this from a hotel room, I have just had a short discussion with a hotel cleaner who wanted to know if "that's your MUR, bhuti?".

In the beginning I could not make out what the document was she thought I had dropped.

I am attending quite a high-brow conference, and I thought it was one of the stacks of documents they are bombarding us with.

I was stunned for a while, until I saw what she was referring to. It was the hotel's Make Up Room sign you hang on the door.

MUR . Oh yee, gods.

Okay, it sounds quite important, and I grant the woman her right to glorify the tools of her trade. A little bit of imagination here and there can turn mundane tasks and utensils into worthy tools of a trade.

But then there is a limit, and I do not blame the poor woman at the hotel.

Last week I had a discussion with a municipality official who told me about a wonderful MM they had just employed.

I later concluded that MM stands for municipal manager. I assume we are so much in a hurry we have to save the nanoseconds we waste saying the whole word.

So we have to speak in shorthand.

It gets worse as you become more politically correct and clued up.

Then you say stuff like: "The DDG of Contralesa has been seconded to Asgisa to draw up the MOU for the AGM of the LGOC."

I confess I am fascinated by language and wish people could at least try to speak properly, not that I am a good example myself. We are busy inventing a whole new way of speaking that we seem to believe is the language of freedom.

We have introduced into Queen Elizabeth's language words like chairperson, while those in the know say the word chairman has absolutely nothing to do with the gender of the incumbent.

Manning a position will, I bet you, one day, be personing the position. We are just waiting for someone brave enough to utter it.

I get goose bumps when people start talking about "girl-child" when they refer to girls. I get embarrassed for their part. What's wrong with "girl", for heaven's sake? What's next, man-parent?

Teachers have become "educators", and their pupils "learners". It has become infra digto call teachers just that.It's like you are contemptuous of this important class in our society.

Back to shorthand speak: In the future, it will be normal speak to say crazy things like "I'm going to C (church) after S (school). Please tell my F (father) because I will need an L (lift) after the CC (church choir) practice."

By that time I will hopefully be in H (heaven) with the As (angels).

l The writer is editor of Sunday World


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