Language lovers have long bewailed the sad state of pronunciation and articulation in the United States. Both in sorrow and in anger, speakers afflicted with sensitive ears wince at such mumblings as guvmint for government and assessories for accessaories. Indeed, everywhere we turn we are assaulted by a slew of slurrings. We meet people who hafta, oughta or are gonna do something or who shoulda, woulda or coulda done it. We hear how they love "drinkin outa bahls" (drinking out of bottles) or how they've "jus been Nittly"(just been in Italy). Here's a typically American exchange: "Jeet jet?" "No, jew?" "Sgo." Translation: "Did you eat yet?" "No, did you?" "Let's go." In a 1949 New Yorker article, John Davenport labeled this kind of sublanguage with the delightfully appropriate name, "Slurvian." Taking Davenport's lead, H. Alan Wycherley, in Word Study, distinguished between the pure and impure uses of Slurvian. Impure Slurvian produces nonsense sounds, such as those I have listed above. But Slurvian in its purest form mispronounces English words into OTHER English words. To help you to translate Slurvian into English and to perserve the growing canon of American non-enunciation, I offer a grotesque glossary of pure Slurvian: Ye Olde Glossary of the American Slurvian Language -from Anguished English by Richard Lederer Antidote: A story. "I love your antidote about the time you made dinner for the boss. Bar: To take temporarily. "May I bar your eraser?" Calvary: A mobile army unit. "At the last minute, the wagon train was saved by the calvary. Dense: A tooth expert. "Yuck! I have a dense appointment today." Forced: A large cluster of trees. "Only you can prevent forced fires." Formally: earlier. "Today, she's a millionaire, but formally she tried to make a living by being an English teacher. Girl: An article of feminine underclothing. "She had to work hard to get her girl on." Granite: conceded. "Too many people take the good life for granite." Intensive: Part of an idiom, as in "for all intensive purposes,"rather than the correct "for all intents and purposes." Lays: The opposite of genmen. "Lays and genmen,..." Less: Contraction of let us. "Less lean more about Slurvian." Lining: Electrical flash of light. "We abandonded our picnic when we heard the thunder and saw the lining." Mayan: Possessive pronoun. "What's yours is mayan and what's mayan is mayan." Mere: A relecting glass. "Mere, mere on the wall..." Mill: Between the beginning and the end. "A table stood in the mill of the room." Mince: Unit of time (60 sec.). "I'll be back in a few mince." Money: Second day of the week. "I'll be back next Money." Neck Store: Adjacent "I'm in love with the girl neck store." Nigh: Opposite of day "She woke up screaming in the middle of the nigh." Of: Have "I could of danced all night..." Pain: Giving money "I'm tired of pain these high prices." Pal: To locomote a craft on water. "It's your turn to pal the canoe." Paramour: A modern grass cutting instrument "Less try out the new paramour on the lawn." Pitcher: An image or representation "As soon as we get the pitcher framed, we'll hang it above the sofa." Please: Officer(s) of the law. "My house was robbed, call the please." Sunny: The first day of the week. "When Sunny comes, can Money be far behind?" Then: A conjunction "I like Sunny better then Money." Torment: A competition "Mabel and me have entered the bridge torment." Whore: Inspiring terror "I love getting scared out of my pants by whore films." Win: Movements of air "He was awakened in the mill of the nigh by flashes of lining and gusts of win." Winner: The cold season of the year "Many birds fly south for the winner." Slurvophobes unite!
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Note: This is one of many funny texts and jokes that were emailed to me, and collected over many years. Without exception, they had come through a large chain of people, and were each completely untraceable. Because of this, I have taken them to be public property, and shared them with you on this site.