August 11, 2008


My parents used to listen to the radio in the morning and at lunchtime. Along with hog futures and news about the Indianapolis 500, they'd listen to various talk radio shows, including Arthur Godfrey. I think it was on a Godfrey program that a commentator spoke of how careless we Americans are in using language. He remarked that the English language is rich and beautiful and concluded with the stirring directive, "Let's not louse it up."

My father chuckled.

"In England," he said, "nobody would know what he's talking about, because in England a louse is a bug." (My dad was born, reared, and educated in the mother country.) His greater point, which has not lost its relevance, is that when making an important argument, slang does nothing to strengthen your case.

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