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Sunday, June 27, 2004

Recent comments seen/overheard

Sometimes our president, and politicians in general, mangle the English language. Other times people say or write things that make you scratch your head.

Recently heard on late-night talk radio in the DFW area:

"Emphemeral extrapolation" - I like that one, sounds like a good criticism of econometrics.

"Out de head" - I think this is supposed to mean "out of their head" but it was hard to tell.

On a website promoting protest at the G-8 Summit in Savannah, the jewel of the Coastal Empire (apologies to Charleston, SC) was described as having "Touristic banalaties". This term was used after the following:
Savannah's historic district was designated a national historic landmark in 1966; many of its 18th- and 19th-century homes have been restored. Despite devastating fires in 1796 and 1820, many old buildings have survived, including the Pirates' House (1754), an old seaman's inn mentioned in Stevenson's Treasure Island ; the Herb House (1734), the oldest existing building in Georgia; and the Pink House (1789), site of Georgia's first bank. The mansion birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (built 1819-21) is owned and operated by the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. as a memorial to their founder. The monument and grave of Nathanael Greene are in Johnson Square. The many churches include the Lutheran Church of Ascension (dating from 1741); the Independent Presbyterian Church (1890s), a replica of an earlier church destroyed by fire and the scene of Woodrow Wilson's marriage to Ellen Axson; First African Baptist Church (a stop on the Underground Railroad) and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (1876), one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in the South.

With these touristic banalities said, be aware that the majority of people in Savannah are of African descent.
This was the first time I had heard the term, so I looked up the two words of the phrase (from dictionary.com):

adj. Having the quality of a tourist. Often used
as a pejorative, as in `losing touristic scum'. Often spelled
`turistic' or `turistik', so that phrase might be more properly
rendered `lusing turistic scum'.


Banality \Ba*nal"i*ty\, n.; pl. Banalities. [F. banalit['e]. See Banal.] Something commonplace,
hackneyed, or trivial; the commonplace, in speech.
Okay, so Savannah, Georgia, is full of commonplace things that tourists like to see. Perhaps. What the statement about African-Americans has to do with anything is a head-scratcher on its own. However, I bet this was probably written by someone who had never been to Savannah, which is a city far from commonplace and which, in the end, doesn't have as many tourists as many other cities in the country.

The use of "touristic banalities" to describe Savannah, Georgia, reminds me of the movie The Princess Pride, in which one character continues to use the word "inconceivable" to describe the actions of the protagonist. Another character comments "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

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