Sunday, December 11, 2011
HN &S: Naming Names
We're Number One! We're Number One! USA! USA! It being an even-numbered year impending, there will be plenty of occasions to hear the chants and bragadoccio resound in athletic and political venues.
Now, it's one of my own personal "editorial" conceits is that I make fun, a little, of the iconic terms by which my countryfolk identify themselves. Under the heading of complaints youi'll never fix?
So, I refer to "Americans" as "USers," since we're the NUMBER ONE users of shit on the planet.
I've been trying to spread "USers" as a subversive meme for a close to decade now, but I'm the only one apparently who recognizes the wit and cleverness of my allusion. You're not supposed to have to explain a good joke, but apparently it's n ot a good joke, so here goes:
To me, there's no fewer than four levels at which changing our national appellation, "works":
1) USers aren't the ONLY "Americans," though we imperialistically ceded the term to ourselves exclusively, so it reinstitutes a necessary distinction;
2) "US" metonymizes the whole title of the State just as well as "American" does, and does it more efficiently;
3) US also names "us," the group, the way the names of tribal groups always mean "the people" in whatever the relevant language, and
4) the aforementioned, globe-gobbling consumptive habits we so thoughtlessly exhibit... This was the "BEST" Black Weekend on record. It's like we're celebrants toasting marshmallows on the fire that's already consumed the kitchen and is starting on the den.
On the whole, "USer" works perhaps on TOO many levels--which in not a bad thing, except in a country which regards "nuance" with the same acceptance as it would "leprosy."
Anyway, you see what fun you can have with words, hippies?
Bring the scrabble board, and we can play at the beach, if the surf's not up. Back to you in hippie-central, winstone...
Another term I virtually always substitute in prose is "'Murkun" for "American." That's cuz most of the people who I hear saying the word, outside the professionally "literate" class, truncate it. Usually the "A" disappears or is barely hinted at; hence the 'apostrophe'. Then the first diphthong, which in Standard American English (SAE) rhymes with /bear/, slurs into a sound like vowel sound in /murky/ or /murder/... The third syllable is elided, swallowed, disappeared; the "i" vanishes. And the "can," as finishing syllable is filled with a schwa.
This'n, as my pal Trish reminded me, is a little more problematic, cuz it "class-loaded, in ways that USer isn't.