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Fresh breath of life for the anti-semantic movement




<i>Illustration: Simon Letch</i>

Illustration: Simon Letch

I JUST want to talk off the cusp to you for a moment. The matter of the inadvertent misuse of words has recently been raised in Column 8, and I'd like to now go off on a slightly different tact.

Now to all intentional purposes, or indeed intensive purposes, this could be a hard road to hoe but I think we all may be up to it, even those a little fresh behind the ears. Mostly, particularly nautically speaking, we may know the dangers of being a loose cannon, understand when to pipe down and happily chew the fat. We may not know the origin of the phrases, but we mostly know the ropes and hopefully will avoid getting a dressing down when we've been too footloose and fancy free with our word usage. But do we really know when to cut and run, particularly when we can't seem to tow the line? Oops, apparently not. Ship happens.

Unfortunately I now have you all on tenderhooks waiting for the punchline. Yes, it does sound kind of kinky, but not nearly as dangerous as riding on the whores of a dilemma, or unleasing a hornet's nest. Or as brutal to the mortgage repayments as the recent news that interest rates have quadrippled since July! Sounds like my stomach muscles. And besides, dear reader, patience is a virgin.

Just to be pacific about it, I could quote George Bush ad nauseum in this context. He did famously consider that he had been miscalculated as a leader, very understandably as he was overly focused on collecting information on weapons of mass production. But I will try to keep my antidotes a little more local. After all, aren't we the land that produced Rex Mossop and his distaste for having male or female genitals rammed down his throat, to use a colloquialism? Not to mention the effluence of Kath and Kim, which was enough to make us all gropeable.

At the end of the day, or for that matter at the beginning of the day, writing about malapropisms probably just makes me implicit in the conspiracy. Perhaps it is also, as Tony Soprano said, a type of revenge best served with cold cuts. It's just not a fair sport, as people seem hell-bent on being hoisted by, up and with their own petards, whatever they may be. We just love being creative with our words, whether we're singing Advance Australia Fair lustfully or eating our meat pies ravishingly. It's all just a mute point. And if you think I have been exaggerating in this brief essay, I can assure you that this has all been said and heard locally and recently.

And there you have it, a fiat accompli.

Josie McSkimming

HuffPost Australia

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