Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Retaliating with a BON MOT

Unregistered Truthdig commenter Jed Wing deserves a tip of the linguistic hat for his deft handling of potentially inappropriate speech. The context, appropriately enough, was the seemingly never-ending discussion of the Imus affair, this time around James Harris' "Imus Distraction" piece. Mr. Wing had obviously become so exasperated by some of the assertions in the ensuing discussion that he eventually had to erupt in expletive: "N-word, please!" After a brief pause, I had my own eruption … of laughter (probably the first healthy belly laugh I had to break the ice of the excessive seriousness with which this topic has been handled). Those of us who understand both the denotation and the connotation of Mr. Wing's little bit of linguistic legerdemain can appreciate that the challenge of respecting the constraints of "appropriate speech" can be a source of creativity, not to mention fun. The rest will have to seek explanation elsewhere and take comfort in the fact that this was a no-harm-no-foul move in the great language-game of life!

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