June 14, 2006

This Modern World on "Peter Beinart, Boy War Liberal"

On liberal cartoonist Tom Tomorrow's blog, Jonathan Schwarz translates the former New Republic editor's call to arms into plain English:

In a recent Q & A with Kevin Drum about Beinart’s book The Good Fight, [Beinart said:]

Jihadism sits at the center of a series of globalization-related threats, including global warming, pandemics, and financial contagion, which are powered by globalization-related technologies, and all of which threaten the United States more than other countries.

This is outstanding work. The only way his point could be improved would be to put it like this:

Gerbil narcolepsy sofa-bed detritus squanders Bigfoot. Crapulent snurf machine? Crapulent snurf machine knob knobbler! Groucho lithe koala traipsing noreaster flange mucus. Mithril acne fluffernutter shamus fling-ding-a-ling-doo!

Unfair, but I do like the "Crapulent snurf machine? Crapulent snurf machine knob knobbler!" part. Since I'm on a Tom Stoppard kick, I wonder if Schwarz got the basic idea from Stoppard's short play Dogg's Hamlet, in which the boys at a school for some reason speak only Dogg, which uses English words like "slab" and "block" but gives them completely different meanings:

It is a school speech day, and after the prize-giving there will be 15-minute performance of Hamlet. (Followed by a one-minute reprise of the whole thing.) But before that, the platform has to be set up. It is to be built out of blocks, slabs, planks, and cubes. A workman arrives to do this, and is watched by some of the schoolboys...

The builder speaks English, and says "cube" and "plank" and so on for the things in his lorry. But the schoolboys speak Dogg, where every single word is an English word but with an entirely unrelated meaning. So they test the microphone with Breakfast, breakfast... sun -- dock -- trog, they call each other vanilla squire when angry, and politely ask the time of a stranger with cretinous pig-faced, git?

The conversation of the workman and the children goes on simultaneously in both languages for a long time and becomes very intricate. Because of their actions on stage, you can understand the import of it all. This extends to the football scores on the radio, Dogg the headmaster's speech, and the lady guest of honour's very gracious speech (beginning "Sad fact, brats pule puke crap-pot stink, spit; grow up dunces crooks; rank socks dank snotrags...).

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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