Gr april 2017 web

Page 18

glebous & comicus

18 Glebe Report April 13, 2017

lost for words by Ash Abraham Coutu

What does he mean when he says words? A CNN reporter recently commented that covering US President Donald Trump has been challenging because, “It is hard to figure out what he means when he says words.” It is difficult to tell when the president is full of bellicose bluster or when the words he says will be signed into next week’s executive order. As a lover of language, I find this all deeply disconcerting. I feel an added responsibility these days to equip my students with a kind of reverence for the words they use to express themselves. The CNN reporter’s comment reminded me of what in English as a second language we call “soft” language. This is actually helpful for business English students who may be perceived as rude by their co-workers for using overly direct speech. For example, one might ask a co-worker, “Are you finished with that report?” Whereas with soft language they would say, “Did you have a chance to finish that report?” This functions as a sort of buffer and is a way to be polite.

I want to encourage my students to be considerate, but I also hope to inspire them to speak with sincerity. Comedian George Carlin once said that, “Soft language takes the life out of language.” He poked fun at common words like toilet paper, which some people refer to as bathroom tissue, and points out that constipation has become occasional irregularity and partly cloudy is now more often partly sunny. Although Carlin himself was notoriously crass, I think he was onto something here. Words and reality are often disconnected. When it comes to the Trump administration, I come down on the side of Carlin when he said, “I tell you some of this language makes me want to vomit. Well not vomit, it makes me want to engage in an involuntary protein spill.” Ash Abraham Coutu is a Nashville native who has lived in Egypt, South Korea and now Ottawa, where she helps out at the Catholic Immigration Centre and teaches ESL.

Glebe Musings by Laurie Maclean

The Glebe according to Zeus

A guinea pig’s perspective on the Glebe

Glebe Fine Arts Group exhibit held over until April 30 In case you missed this exhibit by four noted professional artists, you will have the opportunity to still enjoy and purchase these wonderful paintings by Denise Guillemette, Cara Lipsett, Martha Markowsky and Tricia Wilmot-Savoie. The gallery space is located just to the left of the main entrance of the Glebe Community Centre. Continuing to April 30.

Glebe Community Centre Gallery, 175 Third Avenue


New OPP constable embroiled in controversy! in the heart of the Glebe!

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The Organic Parsley Police (OPP) find themselves in hot water after bringing on a new pig to uphold their mandate to maximize the availability of organic parsley in the community. Allegations against Constable Butchie include that he’s been eating the parsley shipments he is assigned to inspect and then falsely claiming he was robbed by raccoons. “The OPP takes the personal consumption of parsley while on duty very seriously,” explained OPP Chief Nougat, the well-respected indigenous chipmunk who moonlights as a barista. “As soon as these allegations arose, we moved Constable Butchie to broccoli inspection where there is minimal temptation to overindulge due to its bloating effect. The OPP is committed to investigating these allegations! A meeting will be held at the new Ichiban Bakery this Saturday to develop options.” Roam Vronsky, political pundit pigeon, argues that the OPP’s problem is much graver and systemic: “Who polices the police? This is ridiculous!

What we need is a completely neutral body with no vested interest in vegetation to oversee the whole system. A carnivore, perhaps a dog.” Vronsky’s inflammatory statements created outrage among the rodent community, that has long been oppressed by carnivores and whose members have been treated like second-class citizens. “Dogs are evil!” squealed Fluffy, a well-loved guinea pig from Fifth Avenue. “Even when on a leash they are endlessly plotting to eat us!!” The recent debate about carnivores seems to have benefited Butchie, however, whose popularity has soared since the scandal, especially among young piglets. “I hope I can be as fat as Butchie one day. He’s rad!” gushed Picco, a piglet attending First Avenue School who is majoring in leisure studies. Corporations have also wasted no time capitalizing on Butchie’s rising popularity. is now selling signed photographs of Butchie for $5, all profits going to Zeus.