After decades of teaching, Zsolt Alapi is a born-again writer, editor, publisher, who has made his home in Montreal for over four decades. After decades of teaching, Zsolt Alapi is a born-again writer, editor, publisher, who has made his home in Montreal for over four decades.

In the beginning was the Word…

Then came the sentence. Something that in this digitalized modern age we are quickly forgetting how to write. I lay the blame squarely on cell phones and the cryptic shorthand of texting.

I am an anomaly. Though I do a fair share of texting, I still punctuate my sentences, remembering to put in commas and even semi-colons before conjunctive adverbs separating independent clauses. And don’t get me started on emojis, something I only discovered this past year. Don’t you just hate it when you have written a long, well-constructed text, and someone answers with a simple thumbs up? Also, what about those hearts and loving faces? Does the person responding to you really love what you have written, or you, for that matter?

Interesting that when you see a posting on something like Facebook, you can only “Like” it, “Love it,” but never hate or dislike it. I think the person who invents the hate or middle finger icon will make a killing. I would be the first in line to acquire this app. And now with Twitter, (now called X, by that prized lunatic, Elon Musk), you are limited to how many words you can tweet, making any intelligent, well-articulated response virtually impossible.

So, think about it: what are your Words worth?

What drives me into a rage is the autocorrect feature, particularly when you are texting. You have to be ever vigilant since an intended word like Pringles (as in “Please make sure you buy some barbecue flavored Pringles”) can autocorrect to “pregnant,” leaving your partner madly wondering if your craving is the actual result of your “French litter (sic)” having punctured in the heat of some overwrought passion six weeks ago.

Other misunderstandings can occur with this feature. Allegory (a favorite literary device), can become “alligator,” as in “Did Dante intend the Inferno to be an alligator for Man’s spiritual journey to unite with the Divine?” The “babbling brook,” so prevalent in pastoral poetry, becomes “the blabbing brook,” telling all the stories of lovers who made The Beast with Two Backs while cavorting by its side.

Truly, autocorrect can become our worst enema.

Back in the day, English teachers referred to these “errors” as malapropism, made famous by the Bard in many of his comedies, amusingly in Much Ado about Nothing among others, where someone’s “auspicious” actions become “suspicious”.

After Shakespeare came the very Reverend William Archibald Spooner who was prone to switching consonants and vowels, often with creative and unusual results; hence, the coined term “Spoonerisms”.

Thus, “our Dear Old Queen” becomes “our queer old Dean,” “this is the fun part” becomes “this is the pun fart,” and “the East Indies” becomes “the yeast undies” (something to be avoided on a first date).

Interesting how so much intersects with sexual puns (in my mind, at any rate). I was on the Metro the other day, and there was a small placard of sorts that read: “Halte Sexto.” Was this similar to what one sees along the highway: signs warning you not to text and drive, and signs saying how many kilometers to the next rest stop where texting is allowed? But being on public transit, where can one pull off (as it were) for a rest stop with a glory hole?

So, during this holiday season, have a safe one: don’t drink and drive, and practice safe text.

This writer and his rants will be back in the Nude Year.

3 Comments on RANTS OF A GRUMPY OLD MAN: The Last Word

  1. Carl Snyder // January 12, 2024 at 8:44 pm //

    Hey Zsolt – very punny and truly ex-cessive. The last time I understood conjunctive adverbs separating independent clauses was about 1960 in grade 8 English class. So I obviously and with great humor miss the point. Which is the educated reader’s response – knowing when to duck in order to avoid contact.

    I admire the concentrated whirl of thoughts that produce these opinions. And I miss hearing them produced in conversation, as stories, on the fly, in basement apartments in the McGill ghetto half a century ago. Good hearing that voice again. Don’t stop.

  2. Glad to hear that Mrs. Malaprop is alive and well.

  3. Anonymous // January 15, 2024 at 2:34 pm //

    Nice to see your face! I hope to see you face to face at Montebello in 2024. We can exchange punctuation for hours all together. Love to you and Suzanne please don’t be irritated by my emoji kiss.

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