Wednesday 26 Oct 2016

As You Like It
Sjef Frenken

Jack and I sat down for lunch at our usual meeting place; he with his souvlaki, I with my French Fries. Yeah, I know.

Jack said, "what were the last words the girl said when she handed you your fries?"

I said: "I don't recall. Why?"

Jack said: "Ten to one she said 'there you go.'

I said: "Jack, you may be right, but I just don't recall. Why do you mention it?"

Jack said: "It's the new 'goodbye', or 'have a good day'. Nowadays it's 'there you go.' It's all over the place. I have no idea who starts these things, but they swamp the language in a few months. It's like the 'like' thing that has taken over the vocabulary of high school students."

I said: "that must be a legacy of their father and mothers when THEY were hippies: 'Like Wow, man!'"

"Sure," said Jack, dismissively,' but it's worse than that! Have you ever listened to a conversation among teenagers?"

I said "I don't make it a habit, but I will sometime soon, if you insist. Just what am I supposed to be listening for?"

"The way 'I'm like' and 'He's like' have taken over from 'I said' and 'He said'. Who in hell ever came up with that kind of linguistic monstrosity?"

"Jack," I said, "language is never static. It changes, whether we like it or not. It's a constant fight. Even the dictionaries give up after a while. I remember when the word was long-lyved as in a long-lyved person, or a nine-lyved cat. Nowadays even Webster's lists long-livved first. I guess the best you can ever do is never surrender your own grammar and vocabulary. To go down fighting."

"Yeah," said Jack, "but it is so effing ignorant!"

I said: "Jack, I've cautioned you before: don't let these things get to you. It does you no good, and you can't change the world from where you and I sit. What say we go and have an ice cream cone at the Laura Secord."

Jack and I deposited out detritus in the trashcans and sauntered over to the Laura Secord. Jack ordered a French vanilla; belatedly, I had second thoughts on account of the fries.

As the woman who helped us, handed Jack his cone and his change, she said "There you go."

And there we went.

Sjef Frenken is a renaissance man: thinker, writer, translator and composer of much music. A main interest, he has many, is setting to music the poetry, written for children, during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Nimble of mind, Sjef is a youthful retiree and a great-grandfather. Mostly he's a content man, which facilitates his relentless multi-media creativity.

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