October 28, 2008

Actually, Absquatulation COULD Be a Policy

Although American writers got skunked again on the Nobel Prize for Literature, the U.S. has made remarkable contributions to the world of words. For instance, it was in the U.S. that one of the coolest words of all time was invented: puckerstopple (to be embarrassed).

Sadly, this word is not used much anymore, which is a great source of puckerstopplement for me. Other auspicious words of American origin include:
  • goshbustified: very pleased
  • sockdologer: a heavy blow
  • blustrification: celebrating loudly
  • dumfungle: to use up
  • absquatulate: to leave quickly
Once in a while, one of these old-timers makes a comeback. In 2007, Senator Orrin Hatch protested a withdrawal from Iraq by saying, “Absquatulation is not a policy.”

As English is the official language of forty-four nations, and the unofficial international lingo, United States citizens communicate relatively easily when abroad. This also leads to a mindset that English is more universal than it actually is. This helps explain why Texas governor Miriam Ferguson once said, “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”

Our English reliance also puts American politicians at the mercy of interpreters when they travel. Consider Jimmy Carter’s 1977 trip to Poland. While there, the president said in English, “I have come to listen to your opinions and hear your desires for the future.” Carter’s interpreter then translated that to something that meant, “I desire the Polish people [in an inappropriate way.]” Oops! (Carter as a Naval Academy cadet, above.)

Extra Word Credit: After 9/11, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. This is an acronym; do you know what it stands for?
My sources are here.

2 comments:

Allaina said...

Yeah, I cheated. Wiki told me...

Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act

Bart King said...

We have a winner!

You now own the proud feeling of being acronymically enfranchised.

(Or sumpin like that.)