Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Guess what?

Guess what?

You can't, can you?

Guess what?

Two words. Two horrible words masquerading as a conversation starter or a pregnant pause filler or a sentence: the worst sentence ever. And the English language is so versatile. Look at the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Ayres, Cartland. Truly English is plural.

"Guess what?" is an unanswerable question. It serves little earthly purpose. It's the equivalent of "ummmmm..." or "errrrr..." and it might be the singularly most useless question in the world. It's like clearing wordphlegm from your throat. What "Guess what?" actually means is, "I'm about to tell you something which not only do I know will be utterly impossible for you to predict but I don't even want you to try and predict the answer which is utterly impossible for you to predict either."

"You'll never guess what" is almost as bad, but at least it doesn't try to pretend to be a question. Its not under the impression that it's anything other than a tedious preamble.

"Guess what?" should be banned, along with the word indescribable. And just once, one time, I would like to be able to say something other than "What?" in response.

"Guess what?"
"You think that your cat leaves the house every night and metamorphosises into an amalgam of Zorro, the character of Arthur Fowler in Eastenders, and a blacksmith, in order to perpetrate an incalculable number of heinous local acts of wanton vandalism."

English makes me laugh, especially when it's written on pub blackboards.

Three Course Dinner £4.50, Children £3.00

The funniest pub notice though is 'No Jeans'. Is that discrimination, or what?

And there's another anomaly of the English language, adding "or what?" to the end of a sentence. Having asked the question, "Is that discrimination?" there is absolutely no need to fortify it with "or what?" In fact adding "or what?" to the end of a sentence actually means please swap the first two words around, ignore the or what, and treat the whole utterance as a statement of fact rather than a question. Thus "Is that discrimination, or what?" becomes "That is discrimination."

It discriminates against the clothes we wear, our right to self expression, and our individuality. It also discriminates against anyone called Jean.

The thing I love about English is that you can often make up sentences which you can be pretty certain no-one else has ever said. Among my favourites are my bed-ridden God-aunt has a pathological fear of nutmeg, closely followed by the trip to accident and emergency was peppered with detour and comedy. Feel free to use them in any conversations you might have soon. I'd hate to think they had gone to waste. Because words and phrases haunt my every waking moment, and the idea that some people don't ever seem to think about things they say, or the fact that they say things they don't mean, or even understand, fills me with a little bit of woe.

I remember watching a rugby match on TV one day. One of the players, who was a naturally right-footed kicker of the ball, had just kicked it with his left foot, and kicked it well. So up pipes the commentator, "that just goes to show the advantage of being ambidextrous." Indeed, where would any current rugby professional be without being able to use both hands with equal ease? Then, in the same game, and and and this is THE BBC mind, the same commentator said, "Lovely running there. Off one foot, then the other." No doubt any blind people listening needed confirmation that the players weren't hopping around the pitch.

Hang on.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

Then again, the world would be a pretty dull place if everyone went around thinking about what they were saying all the time. Imagine a world without spontaneity or instinct. Imagine a world without wit and instant. A world full of people umming and erring or even errming. Imagine a world without ermine. The world needs impulsion, it couldn't survive without it.

Guess what?

Go on, guess.

I'll give you a lifetime to come up with the answer.


Anonymous said...

Never dull in your head is it?

Ordinary Girl said...

Only a lifetime? It'll take more than that to get me ermine!!