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Anguish Languish Introduction
THE ANGUISH LANGUISH
English words are astonishingly versatile and could readily be made
to serve a new and extraordinary purpose, but nobody seems to care about
this except SPAL (Society for the Promotion of the Anguish Languish) The
members of SPAL are the persons who have written to the author concerning
the Anguish Languish, especially the thousands who wrote to request copies
of LADLE RAT ROTTEN HUT after Arthur Godfrey's inimitable reading of it,
on his television show. The society is very poorly organized, in fact few
of the members even know they belong. There are no officers, no meetings,
no convention, and, worst of all, from the point of view of the author
and founder, no dues.]
In keeping with its lofty ideals and its slogan, ANGUISH FOR EVERYBODY,
the Society is sponsoring this little text, which has three aims:
Policemen and Magicians
A visiting professor of Anguish, Dr. ____________, [This isn't his real
name, nor is it intended to be the name of any other Anguish Languish professor,
living or dead.] who, while learning to understand spoken English, was
continually bewildered and embarrassed by the similarity of such expressions
as boys and girls and poisoned gulls, used to exclaim:
"Gracious! What a lot of words sound like each other! If it wasn't (sic)
for the different situations in which we hear 'em, we'd have a terrible
time saying which was which."
Of course, these may not have been the professor's exact words, because
he often did his exclaiming in Anguish rather than in English. In that
case he would say:
"Crashes! Water larders warts sunned lack itch udder! Egervescent
further delerent saturations an witch way harem, wade hei[er haliver tam
sang witch worse witch."
Dr. __________ was right, both in English and Anguish. Although other
factors than the pronunciation of words affect our ability to understand
them, the situation in which the words are uttered is of prime importance.
You can easily prove this, right in the privacy of your own kitchen, by
asking a friend to help you wash up a dozen cops and sorcerers. Ten to
one, she'll think you said a dozen cups and saucers, and be genuinely
surprised if you put her to work cleaning up even one police officer,
let alone all the others, and the magicians, too.
If you think that she misunderstands merely because the two phrases
sound somewhat alike and not because of the situation, read what
SPAL's Committee on Housewives has to say:
"Presented with a dishes-piled-in-sink situation, several hundred well-adjusted
housewives thought that cops and sorcerers referred to dishes, but
seldom did normal subjects, interviewed under the same conditions, make
the opposite mistake. When they were asked to help us wash cups and
saucers, some women consented, some made stupid excuses, and some told
us bluntly to go wash them ourselves, but practically no one thought
that we were talking about policemen and magicians."
What Anguish Really Is
"The experiments described above, and hundreds of similar ones conducted
by SPAL show that an unbelievable number of English words, regardless
of their usual meanings, can be substituted quite satisfactorily for others.
When all the words in a given passage of English have been so
replaced, the passage keeps its original meaning, but all the words have
acquired new ones. A word that has received a new meaning has become
a wart, and when all the words in the passage have become warts,
the passage is no longer English; it's Anguish.
Are There Any Good Reasons to Study Anguish?
This is not an altogether silly question, and it deserves the prompt
and unequivocal answer any Anguish Languish enthusiast will give it.
"Watcher mane, ardor rainy gut raisins toe sturdy anguish?" he
will say, and will probably give you an impressive list of them which will
certainly include the following:
1. Anguish is fun.
You and your friends can make a game out of learning Anguish, and you'll
have fun developing your own style and observing each other's efforts.
How to begin will be explained later.
2. Anguish Languish means verbal economy.
If words can be made to do double, triple, or even quadruple duty, it
is obvious that we don't need so many of them. Wouldn't it be a comfort
to know that, in the event of some unpredictable disaster wiping out half
of our English vocabulary, we could, if we had learned Anguish, get along
nicely with what we had left?
3. Anguish helps out in certain social situations.
People who aren't sure of themselves should learn Anguish. Suppose you
have been asked to dinner by the president of your company and his wife.
Since you haven't met your hostess, you have spent some time, before going,
thinking up something to say that will really interest her. Finally you
decide to ask, during the dinner:
"Mrs. Bellowell, didn't I hear that your brother Henry was discovered
to be in collusion with those election crooks?"
The moment arrives, but you no sooner get her attention than you have
sudden misgivings. Too late to change your subject, you slip deftly into
"Mrs. Bellowell . . . deaden are hair ditcher broader Hennery worse
dish-cupboard toe bang collision wet dozer liquor-chin crocks?"
Whether or not such a calamity is likely to occur seems entirely beside
the point; in times like these one should be prepared for any emergency.
Chances are that everyone will be so fascinated by the graceful form
of your question that not even your hostess will attach much importance
to what you've asked.
4. Anguish relieves that terrible craving to tell dialect stories.
People who are addicted to telling dialect stories, or chronically frustrated
because they can't tell them without Scotch brogue or Brooklynese getting
mixed up with Deep South, will be overjoyed with Anguish. Anguish is
definitely not a dialect, since it consists only o[ unchanged
English words which anyone can [pronounce. By imparting a delicate and
indefinably exotic accent to one's speech, however, it not only provides
a socially acceptable substitute for telling dialect stories, but adds
to one's personal charm. [ANGUISH ANONYMOUS, an organization of
former dialect story tellers, sponsored by SPAL, can be called ill difficult
5. Anguish improves your English
As your Anguish vocabulary increases, you'll find that your English
vocabulary does, too, but you must be careful not to mix them up--something
which people orphan do when they begin to use words accordion to the way
they sound rather than how they're spelled. Words which are rare in English
are often common enough in Anguish, so you have new opportunities to see
them. Suppose you're spending a week-end reciting nursery rhymes in Anguish
to a happy group of children or immature adults, and come across SING
A SONG OF SIXPENCE, A POCKET FULL OF RYE. In Anguish, this, of course,
is SINKER SUCKER SOCKS PANTS, APOCRYPHAL AWRY. This will give you
an unexpected chance to use the last two words.
You'd be surprised to know how many people haven't the faintest idea
what a xyster is until they hear a SPAL member talking about his fodder,
murder, broader, and xyster. This makes them want to look xyster up.
When they do, they find that, although xyster
The plural of xyster
in Anguish, is c/sterns. See, in this book, the atory of Genter
Alley] in Anguish, may mean sister, in English it's nothing
in the world but a common raspatorium. Now raspatoria, and, therefore xysters
are important surgical instruments, nice to know about before being scheduled
for an aberration.
Speaking of xysters, hominy people know what higglery is? Very
few, yet it occurs in the Anguish Languish version of something as well
"Murder, mare argo art toe swarm?
"Yap, mar doling dodder,
Hank yore clues honor higglery larme
An dun gore norther warderl"
While you're looking up higglery, you might find larme, just
a few pages away in Webster's Unabridged.
6. Practical Anguish.
Anguish can be used for group study at parties and entertainments; as
a psychological test of something or other (we don't know just what), and
as practice material in Speech and Typing classes. [A research psychologist
plans to use Anguish Languish to provide data for a study entitled:
"Individual and Sex Differences in Configurational Perception of Artificially
Contrived but Phenomenologically Comprehensible Auditory Stimuli." This
sounds as if it should mean something.]
How Can One Learn Anguish?
Read everything in this text aloud, and preferably in a group. Make
a game of it.
You'll find it easier to understand Anguish when you hear it
than when you see it. If you have trouble, listen to someone else read
it to you, preferably someone who doesn't quite know what he's reading.
This often gives the best effect. Watch what happens when the listeners
understand better than the reader.
Don't try to read too fast and be sure to give all words their usual
English pronunciation, regardless of the new meaning the word has acquired.
An accurate pronunciation and good intonation are most effective.
3. Don't worry if you seem to have suddenly acquired a slight accent;
your friends will tell you that this is most attractive.
The first item in this collection is a story familiar to all readers--LITTLE
RED RIDING HOOD. Or, as you can probably say now in Anguish, LADLE RAT
Heresy ladle ORIOLE RATTY? DEN LESS GAT STUTTERED!