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SILLY BALLS Owed to Max Harris

This is not just a mumble about enunciation; there’s corruption in the Office of Pronunciation. Even financial parlance has lost its gloss, since Treasurer Keating conjured gross from dross. I’m disinterested, says the sec ker tree, I’ll be in the lie bree temp er rarer lee. The Director Himself says par tic u ly. No one finds it odd, sing u ly. Just as we still get a buzz from greasy, so syllabic elision is nice n easy. Lithe cricketers from the West Indies are given the rasbry as flatulent Windies. In one fowl swoop chickens lose their ken, and as Peter grows harder, he’s Peder by ten. Should we continue on with d? Or discontinue off with soft t? How long before his ego becomes Pee doe, as streamlined as speedos at the Lido? On-camra or sound-booth reporters are jist as vunnerable talking pitchers, intoning their words in broken units. They lean towards Blue TITS, not BLUE tits, West MINSTER, rather than WEST minster, Pry MINISTER, instead of PRIME Minister. Governed by the rhythm of the autocue, they mangle meaning in mindless mew.


One tele babe burbled: Serve Ike all cans, sir – a media euphemism for cervical cancer? Roo ells to the wind are blowen, not showen, for a syllable can also double, you must of knowen. Therefore school becomes skoo ell; bassicly, a crule place fora ne’er-do-well, Where we PRO ject the first syllable of the verb, For Yankee culture is uncool to curb. Right throughout we REE search and COM pare, unable to alleviate the stress of DES pair. Unsooted to the English ass yume, Ozzies drown in the spray of ash shoom. We glottal stop the garlicky updraught from huge by lowering the roof of the mouth to yuge. Yet we aspire to haitch if we’re reglar guys. Does turning a deaf ear stop the flies? We insist on croyzants at French breadshops, making them as unsavoury as Mer Views’ muttonchops. We do a laxadaisical knees-up to the hokey-pokey. On hotel lawns we stoop to croaky. An somethin else Will/Shall we ever grasp the nettle of punctuation if text messagers’ sting us with it’s sub-limination

Michael Small January, 1991


42 SILLY BALLS  

Owed to Max Harris The Director Himself says par tic u ly. No one finds it odd, sing u ly. Governed by the rhythm of the autocue, they mangl...

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