Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Space Alien Struggles with Language

Your Editor has been pleased to observe the Space Alien's increased command of the English language over the years.  Except for spelling (still a problem), the articles submitted by the Space Alien are generally ready for print when they reach her desk.

She was therefore alarmed when she saw the latest draft from the Space Alien.  It was full of language unsuitable for these pages, as well as mean slurs and demeaning nicknames.

"What's gotten into you?" she asked the Space Alien?  "Where did you ever learn such language?"

"I took your advice," answered the Space Alien, "and I tried to emulate the speech of our national leaders as examples of fine English prose!"

Your Editor groaned as she sharpened her blue pencil.  

But the Space Alien didn't even notice.

"Look!" cried the Space Alien,  pulling a large book off the shelf. "These words are in the dictionary!  Isn't that where you told me to look for words?"

"Yes," agreed Your Editor, "but look again.  Don't you see that your dictionary calls these words 'vulgar' or 'obscene'?   Do we really need to use them in the Space Alien Gazette?"

"But what if they are direct quotes?" asked the Space Alien.

Your Editor shook her head sadly.  "That is indeed a problem. I know most adults and even children have heard these words, but we still want the Space Alien Gazette to set a good example.  Let's find a way to report the news without sinking to vulgarity or obscenity."  

"OK," said the Space Alien,  thoughtfully, "and could it be that using these words exposes deficiencies in the user's own vocabulary?"

"That is entirely possible," agreed Your Editor.

"Look what I found online!" cried the Space Alien.  "Lists of Shakespearean insults!  Maybe I'll use some of these in the future!"

And you, Loyal Reader, may find these too at:  and and and

"Now about those nicknames..." began Your Editor.

"Yes indeed," chuckled the Space Alien, "I'll start with calling you 'Pointy Blue Pencil Head' and our chief printing press operator can be 'Lead Head' and I think I'll make up lots more names like that for our reporters and editors and delivery crew!  How do you like that?"

"Hmm," answered Your Editor, "would you like it if I called you 'Funny Looking Bug Eyes?'   Do you think that would help us get along better?  Would it improve the working environment here at the Space Alien Gazette?  Would we be able to work together as effectively to put out a first rate newspaper?"

The Space Alien winced remembering painful times on the playground.

"No," said the Space Alien thoughtfully.  "I guess not!  That is what little children sometimes do to each other, but when they grow up they learn how hurtful this is and how it works against mutual understanding."

Your Editor nodded in agreement.

The Space Alien and Your Editor sat quietly for a moment.

Then the Space Alien spoke:  "I would like to see the Space Alien Gazette set the very highest standard for language which unites and does not divide, and I'll do my very best to achieve that."

"Me too," agreed Your Editor.  "Now let's get some lunch!"