I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hooray! Xmas is Coming! or, And Now, A Word from the Curmudgeon

Every year I am the recipient of forwarded e-mail chains from people who believe that we are on a slippery slope to somewhere unpleasant, in danger of losing our national identity, and vulnerable to communism through the replacing of the words “Merry Christmas” with the words “Happy Holidays”.

Me?  I try not to get involved.  Go ahead.  Wish me something pleasant!  I will wish you the same.  My Jewish friends wish me a Merry Christmas, and I wish them a Happy Hanukah.  And when there’s a crowd, a loud and heartfelt “Happy Holidays!” blankets the whole group in sincere bonhomie.

Unless you want to fight about it, wherein a general “up yours, heathen” is always popular.

I’m thinking, though, that if everyone wants to get worked up – and I’ve nothing against a good lather! – I suggest we contact the makers of the Toddler ABC program for iPad, whose “A is for Apple, B is for Ball” schtick includes the brow-furrowing “X is for Xmas”. 

I kid you not. 

X is for Xmas?!  Well, why not?  Don’t you remember the little baby X born in the manger?

X is for Xmas.  Hmm.  I would’ve much preferred “X is for Peds Xing”, but no one asked me. 

So maybe there is a group of people trying to change not only the meaning of the season but our words and how they come about. 

It’s not the guy in the red suit at the Salvation Army kettle hollering “Happy Holidays everyone!”, it’s the makers of “Toddler ABC” who see nothing wrong in using a written shortcut as a real word. 

I saw an advertisement for “cubeicles” yesterday.  Now, I’ve worked in a cubicle – which, from the picture, is what they were talking about, so why the misspelling? 

Our long-distance carriers want us to ask our friends “Where you at?” clearly leaving us vulnerable around the not-ending-a-sentence-with-a-preposition thing.  Why do they want us to look bad?

And now we are legitimizing the word “Xmas”.

I think we’ve all come to the same conclusion here, haven’t we?

Marketing is trying to kill us.  Better for them that the hand holding the wallet be un-encumbered with the ability to communicate.

Why talk when you can spend?

Let’s all pledge to each other:  this coming year, we will look up a word in the dictionary.  We will use that word, we will love it, we will take it out, we will introduce it to our friends.  We will learn the words of our friends, find how they mesh with our own, find the subtle meanings within the meanings and marvel at how the nuance of a word can change intent. 

There is nothing wrong with mastering a language.



This message brought to you by the people who believe that words mean things.

54 comments:

Shelly said...

I pledge allegience to the mastery of my language...hey- I really like your world, Pearl! :)

Pearl said...

Shelly, I thank you. :-)

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Now I know we were separated at birth, because the "Peds x-ing" sign drives me batcrap crazy. Everyone watch out for the x-ing peds!!
Also? I love love love "up yours, heathen!" So versatile. Especially when driving.

R. Jacob said...

I was born and raised in Chicago and we almost always end a sentence with a preposition!
I think Pearl has the holiday blues.
xo

vanilla said...

Pearl, you are one of the very few people who can conduct a good rant with good humor and bon homie. Of course, I particularly like this one because I agree with you.

vanyelmoon said...

I've noticed this trend as well. I was so very ashamed of our culture when I decided to go back to school. I was in class with 20 somethings who seemed to have no ability to write. I was so tired of reading posts with no capitalization, text spelled words, and run-on sentences. I wondered if the professors were just used to it and let the poor writing pass because they were tired of fighting for good grammar?

Great post :)

Silliyak said...

Sorry to be a spoilsport

1. snopes.com: Xmas Abbreviation ••••
Is 'Xmas' a modern and disrespectful abbreviation for 'Christmas'?
...Xmas Abbreviation Xmas Abbreviation Claim: 'Xmas' is a modern, disrespectful abbreviation of the word 'Christmas.' Origins: The abbreviation of...
...by a symbol similar to the letter 'X' in the modern Roman alphabet. Hence 'Xmas' is indeed perfectly legitimate abbreviation for the word 'Christmas'...
...(and others) aren't justified in feeling slighted when people write 'Xmas' rather than 'Christmas,' but the point is that the abbreviation was not...
Wed, 30 Nov 2011 12:36:45 GMT http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/xmasabbr.asp

Lisa said...

I'll take part in the pledge as long as I can continue to flirt with the French language, too.

Pearl said...

Dawn, oh, I would so X the road to have a drink with you...

R., I think you meant to say that, having been raised in Chicago, you always end your sentences with PROPositions, ya big flirt you.

vanilla, I like when we agree. :-)

vanyelmoon, some of the e-mails I get at work from the younger folk are just pathetic. The whole country has dropped the ball...

Silliyak, ah! Good to know. THe "X" is for Xmas thing still bugs me, though, particularly in light of the A is for Apple, B is for Ball bit. Using an abbreviation when teaching kids the alphabet? B is for BYOB? L is for LMAO?
:-)

Pearl said...

Lisa, moi aussi! :-)

Oilfield Trash said...

Christmas is coming, ah hell I guess I shouldn't have deleted that email.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm with you--technology is reducing our linguistic skills, not enhancing them in so many ways. Here's to true, honest words and real spelling.

haphazardlife said...

Oh how I hate X-ings and Xmas and whatever else these idiots come up with.

X is for, hell, I dunno, Xylophone maybe? or Xeres or, at this point, Xanax...

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

There has been an uproar about the use of xmas since 1551 when it seems to have first appeared. X indicates Christ (from the Greek I think). I have to admit I am guilty of occasionally using Xmas instead of Christmas and of chirping Happy Hollydays instead of Happy Hollidays, or, Sneasons Greetings instead of...oh you get my drift One of my oddball little quirks I guess. What I'm trying to say is Xmas doesn't bother me one little bit, after all, what's in a name?

Pearl said...

OT, no worries. There will another one!

Green Girl, you have to wonder if there's a Society for Preservation of the True Spellings...

haphazard, X is for Xanax. :-) Gets my vote!

Delores, as long as people are wishing me well, I'm good! X is for Ecksmas, though. That gives me wrinkles.

Simply Suthern said...

I have pretty much butchered the King's English and am working on the Queen's. However, I spose I will take you up on your challenge.

I am going to adopt the word "Y'all" and use it as often as possible.

SparkleFarkle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leenie said...

Yes, yes, YES!!! BAN the use of Xmas. In a kid's book aaarrrgghhh! I'll jump in that bowl of lather with you, Pearl.

Side note: Names of fruits and vegetables starting with alphabetical letters. None start with I, unless you count iceberg lettuce. Q=quince, V=voavanga (Spanish Tamarind) X=xigua, a kind of melon.

Side note two: The going price for a wart is $15. If you purchase Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away at Walgreens the wart flees in terror.

Symdaddy said...

As you know, or should have at least a small inkling thereof, I have already, at great personal cost, endeavoured to master my mother tongue.

Let me tell you that I, as a youngster, undertook an apprenticeship, which I consider to be on-going, in the correct and accurate methods of expressing myself in this language.

The acknowledgement of such terms as "Happy Holidays" or "Xmas" as acceptable by lesser educated users of the English language is a shocking state of affairs. I would prefer to throw myself upon the flaming sword of literacy and grammar rather than commit such a vile and heinous crime.

Merry Xmas by the way!

SparkleFarkle said...

*places right hand on tattered, favourite copy of Webster (No, not THIS ONE.), whilst wearing pop beads (because, heck, where is my strand of pearls when I need them?!), thusly attempting to pay well-deserved homage to the author*

I solelmly pledge to routinely "Make a Date with a Dic": This coming year, I, SparkleFarkle, will look up a word in the dictionary. I will use that word, I will love it, I will take it out, I will introduce it to my friends. I will learn the words of my friends, find how they mesh with my own, find the subtle meanings within the meanings and marvel at how the nuance of a word can change intent.

Thank -you for this marvelously enriching opportunity!

Loove (<--Beatlespeak, which is what I am also up to, today!),
SparkleFarkle~~~~~*

P.S. This has been some mighty fine reading, Pearlie!

Kara said...

I'll take the pledge! My new favourite word is "bonhomie". Although up here in the Hinterlands, I believe we spell it bonhomme.

Pearl said...

Simply, Y'all is a perfectly acceptable contraction, you betcha. :-)

Oh, Leenie. :-) You silly delightful woman. Have you met my friend Sparkle Farkle? She's hilariously goofy as well.

Symdaddy, and you DO speak some goodly English!

Sparkle, :-) You're a midwestern gem, you are!!

Pearl said...

Kara, welcome aboard! :-)

Leauxra said...

I am so confused. There's a different way to spell "Xmas"? WHAT?

And I think I can explain the "where you at?" thing. There is a whole group of people in the southern part of Louisiana I lovingly refer to as "Y'ats". They speak in a language that sounds like English, but it really is not. You can hear them, mostly comprehend them, and they can understand you, but you are not speaking the same language. It is a linguistic anomaly that makes it perfectly acceptable to end a sentence in a preposition. It got really popular after Katrina because "Where y'at?" meant "Where are you physically located?" and "How are you doing emotionally?" It's also really easy to text someone "Where Y@?"

Joanne said...

We can rant if we must (we must), but don't waste too much blood pressure on it. Our ranting topic will be replaced by the new media words subscribed by the new generation and they will rant about the replacement of what we rant on about. I once thought there was nothing new under the sun, but actually new language is. Wait--it's not new, either.

Pearl said...

Leauxra, you bring a laugh AND a lesson. I like that.

Joanne, you're right, of course. Oh, man. I've always been intensely interested in what happens next...

jenny_o said...

As the daughter of an English teacher and strict grammarian, I was a firm believer in the "no preposition at the end of a sentence" until I read this link a few months ago. It includes a number of good sources:

http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarfaq/f/terminalprepositionmyth.htm

For those who do not check the link, the basic message is that the "rule" is based on Latin grammar and incorrectly restricts the common-sense usage of prepositions.

Also see:

http://oxforddictionaries.com/page/grammartipsprepositions


Please don't shoot the messenger :) :) :)

I'm rather a fan of evolving language, but I believe there's a time and place for everything and therefore I stick to regulation spelling and grammar unless something else is clearly more appropriate.

And Pearl! I'll take the pledge!! I might even learn more than one word this year! OMG!

Susan in the Boonies said...

"Up yours, Heathen" ® has always been my holiday greeting of choice, but I thought I had registered my Trademark on that, so I'm a bit miffed.

Cube-icles was a little known Greek who thought about flying too near the sun, but decided to fly toward Pluto, instead, and froze his private parts into two little ice cubes.

And now, you know the rest of the story...

Douglas said...

Back when I was taught the alphabet (sometime around the Jurassic Period), X was for Xylophone. What I could never understand (and still don't) is how X came to be pronounced the same as "Z".
It's a puzzlement.

Eva Gallant said...

I have no problem with Happy Holidays....I like its inclusiveness. Xmas however, not so much.

the walking man said...

Fragrance is my chosen word.

The Elephant's Child said...

Curmudgeons (now there is a wonderful word) AKA grumpy old women (and men if they insist) rule!.

Craver Vii said...

Brava! I couldn't agree with you more. In Europe, it might be common for a regular person to know three languages fluently, and here (Chicago) we can barely handle just one. The phrase that kills me is when someone does not like to flex their vocabulary muscles and demands that I "speak English." How do these people get through reading any books? You know... those antique things that are used to accessorize bookends? (lol)

Roses said...

Not being a Xtian, I get to stay with Happy Holidays.

Though it took me a heck of a long time to figure out Peds Xing.

Belle said...

People who get their knickers in a twist about "Happy Holiday" have nothing to do but bitch and moan. It drives me bonkers. Who cares what other people say at "this time of year". Mind your own business. Jesus wasn't born in December anyway. There. I had my rant for the day, thank you Pearl!

The Six-Fingered Monkey said...

This is x-citing. I x-cept this x-cellent challenge and I pledge to look up new words regularly and use them properly in everyday speech!

Great post - my son has an ABC book and, you guessed it... x-mas is featured on the last page.

Ick.

jabblog said...

Though I understand the X for Xmas it still irritates me though not nearly as much as 'Chrimble'. While we're on the subject how can O stand for Owl?? I'm talking phonetics here - even X for X-ray is suspect . . . ksss-ray - as for X for Xylophone - please!

Amber Star said...

Oh my, Pearl, you have certainly stirred the proverbial pot today! I found a dandy word today while reading about Old Hollywood and all the carryings on back then.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/30/travel/beverly-hills-hotel-history/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Marilyn Monroe Slept Here article-

In a reference to Svend Petersen's tact for guests during difficult times.

"He also used the pool to teach Faye Dunaway a 1940s-style crawl for her role in "Mommie Dearest" and led Taylor to a secluded upper cabana so she could avoid whispers during her zaftig years..."

zaftig
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zaftig

of a woman :having a full rounded figure: pleasingly plump

That was a kind thing to do and I love that word! It is my word of the day.

zaftig women rule!

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! This mail is subversive; you made me laugh then made me think. Damn you! I'll exact terrible revenge and snail mail you a youthful Marketeer wrapped in brown paper. And he won't even be properly qualified. Ha! Indigo x

Gigi said...

Xmas drives me batty too - as do a lot of things that I won't go into here; simply because I don't want to take over your post and because I'd sound like a crazy woman just ranting on and on.

But I AM glad to see that you accept "y'all" because otherwise we'd have to sit down and have a LONG discussion over it because that's one word I'm not about to give up.

I will accept your challenge to find a new word a day....but I can already tell you, I'll probably fall right off that wagon unless I've got someone reminding me daily.

alwaysinthebackrow said...

Those who disdain Happy Holidays wish only for their own happiness during the holidays...not for anyone else. They have disdain for those of the non Xmas persuasion.
And I love all the things that I learn in the comments to your posts. I am adopting the word zaftig as my word of the day. I've seen the word, never checked its meaning. I am now zaftig. Beats fat any day.

Susan Kane said...

May I use "Up yours, Heathen!" too? It is too perfect to be confined.

My daughter had the most delightful Christmas cards printed up with her beautiful daughters beaming. 250 of them, all saying, "Merry Chrimsus!"

HermanTurnip said...

I so wanted to get worked up over this, but thought I had better check out what the Oxford English Dictionary had to say about it first. Yep, it cites "xmas" as a valid abbreviation for Christmas. What the?!

ThreeOldKeys said...

hay Purl,

Three Chairs for your post ... I agree with you.

I think we are too busy for complete words. There's probably a languageist cell somewhere, plotting ways to reduce English to all short words. If there's a way to contract / compact / abbreviact, we do it.

So Xmas is Christmas Lite. No probs. Chill. Have a donut.

(I'm glad you are still posting; I have not popped in for a long time.) Happy Holidays and Deck Them Halls!

Tempo said...

Oh, straight away I have a problem with your proposition... we in Australia and those in Britain all have the same problem, you see Microsoft and their spell checker is in American and no matter what we do it insists on spelling things the American way.

Sush said...

Sheesh girl you hit some buttons evidently! I went to comment and saw you already have 40...oh well if you read this far down the list you had me at bonhomie!
AND I do like to keep the X out of Christmas...everything else I am very tolerant and don't bat an eye!
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and on and on!
Oh and
hugs~

Pat said...

Believe me if your hands are achey with rheumatism and you have 50 million cards to write you'll take any short cut.
One tries to send a robin rather than a Madonna to the non - believers although mistakes inevitably are made - but hey - the thought is there.

River said...

"Marketing is trying to kill us." Marketing is the biggest scam there is. And of course we all fall for it in some degree. Even me, look! I have a shiny laptop! an I-pod, a dvd player...

But this word substitution thing shouldn't be allowed. A whole generation of children learning that X is for Xmas is wrong. When I was little, (by which I mean young, I'm still little), X was for Xylophone. And it still should be.

hoodyhoo said...

Alright, that's it. Everyone who ever went to first grade knows from the pictures on the edge of the chalkboard that "X" is for "xylophone." Stop trying to take music away from our children!

Amy said...

If you are feeling flirty, you could intentionally mistake the x for XOXO, and take it as a green light to hijack some holiday hugs and kisses!

Kate Mohler said...

Are you serious? X is for Xmas? OMG! And I have to teach these kids when they get to college. X is for X, man. How about BOX...why does X have to be presented as the first letter in a word? I vote for a revolution.

mermaid gallery said...

amen!...the bastardization of the language really irritates me.....let's get smarter, people!...(does punctuation count?...i'm a devil with creative punctuation!)

Ms Sparrow said...

I love your proposal to take a new word and banter it around. I settled on the word "manumit"--to emancipate or liberate. It's going to be tricky working that into conversations, however!

R. Jacob said...

I think I am blushing Pearl