Bits of this, that

The good life

When you’re living the good life, you sometimes find yourself noticing bits of things that are not earth-shaking but are interesting because of the surprise factor, or because of something novel.

For example:

• An acre of land on the Las Vegas strip is worth $30 million

• Turtles sleep on the bottom of the sea for about an hour on one breath of air.

• Leonardo da Vinci invented the submarine and the helicopter, which we use now. He also invented the scissors, which we use every day.

• Don’t tell the tourists, but the Barefoot Man is not barefoot. It may have been true at one time, but these days the guy is so well off he wears regular shoes or SRS – something resembling shoes – and nobody asks for their money back. Mind you, he’s in trouble if the American tourists ever find out – you know how they love to sue. Watch yourself, George. To avoid litigation, you may have to insert the word ‘previously’ between ‘The’ and ‘Barefoot Man’.

• George Ebanks says he was in hysterics hearing somebody on the radio, referring to making something smaller, and using the verb ‘smallen’. It’s comical, yes, but that’s the illogical side of the English language. If there is ‘tight’ and ‘tighten’, ‘loose’ and ‘loosen’ why not ‘small’ and ‘smallen’?

That reminds me; I was standing one day in a Crewe Road yard watching a mature gentleman loading an open truck with lumber. With the load on, he proceeded to cover the lot with a tarpaulin and then carefully lashed the tarp down with rope.

Job finished, he walked over to me. ‘Yuh see how mi do de job sah? In case rain fall, mi put de tarpaulin to prevent shrinkage…and mi put de rope to prevent fallage.’ From ‘shrink’ you get ‘shrinkage’; from ‘fall’ you get ‘fallage’…perfectly logical.

• And it’s not just the unschooled that have problems.

World-renowned cricket commentator David Lloyd remarked on TV recently, following a cricket shot, that the ball was ‘partially stopped’ by a fielder.

• Speaking of choice of words, I wonder who came up with that line, in a recent Compass ad, that ‘TV programmes put you to sleep’. They’re obviously watching the wrong programmes.

Channels like PBS, Nature, Discovery, and HBO carry some of the most engrossing and revealing programmes around. Also 201 with all those uninterrupted sports events – edge-of-the-seat stuff including our ‘glorious’ West Indies cricket team.

• I thought the most widely eaten fruit in the world would have been the orange; it’s actually the mango. Also the West Indian fruit with the most nutritional value is the guava.

• These days it seems everybody has to come up with their own lexicon. On the front lines in the Army, what used to be called ‘a helicopter’ is now ‘an aerial platform’…yes, an aerial platform.

• The security system for an office building in George Town is another example of the almost idiotic distortions we see from the technical folks.

At the entrance to the building housing Digicel in town, the panel box showing the security system’s functions includes ‘Audible Silence’. That one’s hard to figure out, unless it’s the condition that exists when your spouse is mad at you.

• You’ll probably say I’m picky on this, but here goes: I wish people would stop printing various tourism items (T-shirts; mugs; etc.) with the word ‘mon’ on it. Nobody in the Caribbean says ‘mon’. We do use the word ‘man’ a lot, and we pronounce it with that long lingering ‘ah’ sound, but never ‘mon’. Americans, in particular, accuse us of this, but then they’re the same people who turn ‘nuclear’ into ‘nucilar’, ‘deteriorate’ into ‘deteriate’, and pronounce ‘Favre’ as ‘Farve’, so their credentials are poor. (It just occurred to me that when I said nobody in the Caribbean says ‘mon’, that’s not true. Barefoot says it. But then, Barefoot’s from America; case closed.)

I can hear it already…why am I picking on Barefoot? I’m not. It’s just that Barefoot is like one of those little pieces of chain hanging from the back of fuel trucks; he’s a lightning conductor. Just ask Don Seymour.

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