pages

3/17/11

Parts Of Speech

She was a leghorn, but not as cute.

Is that the diminutive form?

Yea sure.  Now, where were we?  Oh yes, nouns.  Of course I like nouns. Who wouldn't like a noun?  I can talk all day on the benefits of nouns.  Some of my favorite things are nouns.  What am I saying - most of my favorite things are nouns.

And your thoughts on verbs?

I cherish verbs.  I was turned into a verb once but had to change back.  Verbs are angels in mine eyes.  I wouldn't speak or write a sentence without one.

Have you always felt this way?

I suppose I went through my 'no verb' period like everyone else - but like acne - it too passed.  I support verbs for everything they stand for.  I'm verb friendly.  I wear a verb on my lapel.  I sport a verb on my bumper.  I'm a verbalist.  I vote along verb lines.  I dated a verb in high school.  I give to verb organizations.  I fought alongside verbs in the big war and know first-hand they can be depended upon to get the job done. You can't go wrong with verbs.  I'm a verb man - and always will be.  And I've never waivered.  I stand by my verbs, and in the end, hopefully, when all is said and done, they'll stand by me.  It's all faith based, of course.  Intelligent design...something along those lines...do you know what I'm saying?

What about transitive verbs?

They need our help and we should give till it hurts.  It's as simple as that.  It says so in the Bible.

Do you feel the same way towards the adverb?

Plain and simple, an adverb is an adjective passing itself off as a verb.  And not doing a very good job at that.  It's the 'part of speech' no one wants to talk about.  It's become taboo.  It's not politically correct.  Frank Rich won't touch it and forget about William Safire.  So and so says he would touch it, but only with yours.  But any self-respecting, republican-leaning, stand-up kind of guy, would have nothing to do with the adverb.  The adverb was created by hooligans, street thugs, supposedly for the intended purpose of bringing nuance into our lives.  Well, I do know a few things about nuance, and let me tell you I don't get my nuance off the street - not anymore anyway.  But I can speak to the nuance that lies between 'maybe' and 'can I get another kiss?'.  But give it to me in black and white any day of the week.  These free-speech, contrarian counter-culturalist weren't content to leave well enough alone, and with only what I can describe as malice toward their fellow man created what we now have come to fear and despise most: the abject, depraved, lonely, lowly, out of work, base adverb.  And let's not forget these are the same people who introduced to us the split infinitive, and we all know what effect that had on the moral compass of this great nation of ours.  It went due south!  It went straight to bloody hell.

But reports show that more and more people are turning to adverbs to solve their problems.  How do you respond?

Plain and simple, if you elect to run with adverbs you're flirting with disaster.  You'll get burned. They'll hurt you. You'll wake the morning, a fat girl lying next to you, sheets drenched in sweat, aching all over, in the fetal position, clutching a Bible between your legs, yearning for a colonic, but settling for cigarettes, coffee, and the New York Times instead.  If I were to come upon an adverb lying face down in the street, liquored up on absinthe and imploring me with his last breath to spell out the word Mississippi, I would take out my pistol and fill him full of 32 bullet holes.  Unfortuneatly, adverbs are increasing at an alarming rate.  According to a 'research & development' friend of mine at Websters Dictionary Inc, if they continue at their current growth rate, they'll soon overtake contractions.  And I don't know about you but I sooner jump off a bridge than awake the morning next to a contraction?  Just ask my wife!  It's unimaginable.  Listen carefully the next time you're in the check-out line at your local Walmart store: tongues tied and twisted; contorted and thrust out; thrush encircling thin lips; distended jaw lines; vowels clipped and hard; delivered in a falsetto; and consanants resembling the sound a baby seal makes upon being clubbed to death.  Can I get a price-check on aisle 10?  You tell me sweetheat because no one ever tells me a goddamn thing anymore.  Have you been throttled lately?

Not since college.  Would you let your daughter date an adverb?

I'd sooner become an English Professor than someone inform me that my daughter is cavorting with an adverb.  I've seen in the labatory, with my own two eyes, what can happen when you cross an adverb with an adjective, and contrary to what some people might lead you to believe, they do come out with two heads.  It makes my stomach turn to think about it.  And then there's the surgery and all that must follow.  You don't have any Tums on you, do you?  We'd prefer she'd remain within her own race.  It's safer that way.  Pepcid A.D., or something?  I suffer from dyspepsia.  Adverbs are not permitted in our home.  Never have been.  And never will be.  We're adverb free where I come from.  It's become a national problem.  My stomach is killing me.

What do you suggest we do about 'this problem'?

My wife says I should see a specialist.

Not your stomach, adverbs.

Let me share with your readers what I have done.  Maybe this will help someone.  I've gone through my entire American Heritage Dictionary and whited-out all entries to adverbs.  I did the same recently with one of my favorite novels: Ernest Hemmingway's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'.  And how refreshing it is to read this novel without someone altering my verbs for me.  For whom does the bell toll for?  It tolls for me sweetheart, as it very well should.  Per chance, have you seen my inhaler sweetheart?

Where does this hatred of adverbs stem from?

Like most hatreds it stems from or is rooted in events that occurred in my childhood.  Like many other blue-blooded American boys I grew up on a strict diet of subjects and verbs, mixed in with plenty of chicken and spankings, to communicate my likes and dislikes.  I was spanked into becoming the man I am today: a subject and verb kind of guy.  And I still am.  I was familiar with them and they were easy to use.  And, if I might add, they'd gotten me out of a few tight spots on more than one occasion if you know what I mean.  And so I grew to depend on them.  Soon, I couldn't live without them. They became my twin gods: subject and verb.  But then one day, feeling alone and vunerable, sitting naked by the phone, noshing on circus peanuts and Fresca, and rapidly sinking into a deep hole of self-loathing, despair, and depression, when a stranger shows up on the outskirts of our little town.  At first I thought it was Boo Radley.  But as the fates would have it, she passed by our house and knocked on our door and I answered it.  And as she held out her hand to shake mine I swallowed hard when I spied the book she was clutching under one arm and all of my worst fears suddenly became realized.  I can still recall the title of the book she held: 'Adverb: Did Your Mother Secretly Date One In High School?' and it hit me like a ton of bricks who this woman standing before me was: a bottom feeding apostate faux ecclesiastical adverb peddler!  And in our neighborhood of all places!  We were Methodist, for Christ's sake.  At least on paper, anyway.  And with total abandon and disregard for most of the ten commandments and many supreme court rulings, I did some things with adverbs that I'm not especially proud of today.  But that's was a different time in America. But later that evening, in the privacy of my bedroom, behind my locked door, alone with my pet parakeet Brunnhelde, I pried open my book of adverbs.  And with the aid of some old jumper cables connected to a a twelve volt tractor battery, and a ball-peen hammer, I soon enough advanced my manifest destiny right there on the floor!  Later still I had to have my carpets cleaned and Brunnhelda replaced with an Egret. The next morning I awoke in a cemetary, and reflecting on what I had done the night before became consumed with much guilt, considered moving to Canada, and later still I had to have my stomach pumped: Mac & Cheese - that's all they ever found.  That's how much the whole experience distressed me.  And like many before me, I soon developed a dependancy for abverbs.  I couldn't get out of bed without the aid of an adverb.  I was like so and so...blah blah blah. And in short order I became insatiable, and so I read every book I could lay my hands on: 'Adverbs and The First Gulf War,'  and 'Adverbs: Can They Stabilize World Currency Markets?' and 'Adverb: Not Just A Modifier Anymore,' and of course who could forget the charming: 'Do You Know Where Your Adverbs Are?'  Well, no one had to remind me where my adverbs were.  Adverbs had by this time taken over my life.  I knew I needed professional help when I began to adverbulate several times a day to the theme song to Gilligan's Island.  It came to the point where I couldn't leave my house anymore because of an irrational fear of people in uniform.  Call it associative disorder disease or just plain call me crazy but don't call me late to dinner.

What did you do?

I did what any other desperate person would do in my situation, I phoned the English Department of my local community college and they put me in touch with a Dr. Epsom Salt.  You may recall Dr. Salt's book:  'The Simple Sentence: Can it Be Made Any Simpler? You Tell Me!'  Great book, by the way.  And after much talk and a discourse by me on the influence chicken played in my early childhood development he finally told me to shut-up and admonished me with the following advice: if I didn't lay off the adverbs I was very soon going to begin to speak French.

Mama Mia!

Those were my exact words too.  But before you pass judgement and deny me like Peter to Christ or Cher to Sonny let me remind you that when you have an adverb on you back it's hard to shake free of it.  But I did overcome this affliction, and in a few months, with the aid of intense pyscho-therapy, mountains of medication, recovered memories and a private meeting with the Pope, I stood before, and with great fanfare, in a new suit, sporting a verb on my lapel, a smile on my face, a congregation of Scott-Irish pentecostal fanatics located somewhere in the foothills of the Appalacian mountains; and raised my eyes and hands upward and with conviction and resolve in my voice withdrew my support for the adverb and swore before the tongue-talkers assembled before me, so help me God, that I, one man, with good intent, and acting on God's orders, would reduce the eight parts of speech to seven, so help me God.  Amen!  But how could one man accomplish such a lofty and noble goal?  And so, being who I am, I formed a committee to study this problem.  And this committee grew into a conference and this conference burped up a symposium which in turn beget a congressional investigation and the next thing I know I 'm sitting atop a camel, in the desert, surrounded by a caravan of bedoins, humming a Cole Porter tune, wishing I had followed my father's advice and studied art history instead.

{PAUSE}

Are you okay?

I'm exhasted, it turned out to be a near-death experience for me, what with the wind and sage brush and all - but I'll be all right.  It's painful for me to discuss adverbs with you.  You see, I have a mental illness.

Histrionics?

No, agoraphobia!  I have a fear of people staring at my adverbs.

But isn't true you were recently found with your pants down propositioning a prepositional phrase?

That's a falsehood and you know it.  That was put out by the same people who support the notion that the letter 'b' should be dropped entirely from the alphabet.  What I was actually doing was conjugating a verb; and there's no law prohibiting that, is there?  With the exception being Alabama of course.

Of course.  But isn't it true this particular verb objected to being conjugated?

Show me a verb that objects to being conjugated and I'll show you my dangling participles.

Your participles dangle?  Can you show them to us?

If I inflect them - they do.  But anyway, I'd show them to you but I'm past participle.

Are you tense?

No, I'm past tense.  I'm a nervous wreck.

So, for the record, are you for, or, are you against nouns?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm pronoun!