Home / View Point / Earl Best / Media Monitor: On T&T English, the US Senate’s brown tongues and crossing Trump

Media Monitor: On T&T English, the US Senate’s brown tongues and crossing Trump

In the Senate impeachment trial of Donald J Trump, Adam Schiff spoke good, very good. (I could have wrote ‘was very good’ but that wouldn’t be American in any way, shape or form.)

A classy, clearly highly educated advocate, Schiff doubtless impressed all with his eloquence and general delivery. He and Hakim Jeffries. If you weren’t impressed, then you weren’t watching on television.

Photo: US president Donald Trump speaks to supporters during an electoral campaign event at the CFE Arena, University of Central Florida on March 5, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Joe Raedle)

Or you’re Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham, principals in Washington DC’s most notorious present-day partnership: Pale, White and Trembling. Or you’re a redneck or a white supremacist. Or simply another yellow-bellied, brown-tongued Republican senator, seeing and hearing the truth but too terrified to stop believing the lies.

But what was also remarkable for me wasn’t just the color of the senators’ tongues or what they used them for. From the televised House hearings to the Senate trial, I was repeatedly struck by the difference between contemporary American speech and the public speaking language ritually used by educated Trinis when I was growing up a couple of centuries ago.

Truth is that, presently, English is English and American is emphatically American and ne’er again shall the twain even closely resemble each other.

Things really have changed since the good old days. Without our noticing. In full view and within earshot of many of us who saw ourselves as zealous defenders of the purity of the English Language. Things big and small. Like the last letter of the English alphabet.

Why does it now rhyme with ‘see’ when it used to rhyme with ‘said’?

Yesteryear, we asked, “How are you?” Nowadays, it’s “How are you doing?”

I remember the days when boys and girls alike used to dry their hair with towels. Later, once the heady Black Power days and Angela Davis-type afros were upon us, sisters said goodbye to towels. They no longer simply dried their hair, they blow-dried it.

Photo: Neighbours playing cards (by Craig Adderley from Pexels)

Similar dilemma for the neighborhood brothers who often came to my house on weekends to play rummy and, more often, all fours.

“Why you cross-trump?” Tom might ask me as Dick and Harrylall snickered. You could hear both the anger-cum-bemusement and the hyphen.

“I did not cross-trump,” my annoying response often was. “I crossed trump.”

Which brings us back to the Senate Trial. Nowadays, crossing Trump is a Huge Issue, often the Elephant in the Newsroom. And although the twitter-crazed, e-literate potus has no regard for the Rules of Capitalisation, merely because he is Potus, no one seems to care anymore.

Not even in the media.

I mean, I suppose what POTUS has had his Children and Son-in-Law doing all over the World could reasonably be called ‘heir-conditioning’.

But what the media broadcasted was that Trump conditioned the almost US$400m in Military Aid on Vladymir Zeleneskey’s digging up burisma Dirt on joe biden—or, at least, announcing that he was going to have him investigated.

Embed from Getty Images

Can you imagine how that info would have impacted the 2020 Elections? That’s as clear a case of Abuse of Power as you will ever see.

Unless, of course, you are Lamar Alexander or Lisa Murkowski or some other Republican senator contorting him/herself into a Pretzel to stay on Trump’s good side. In the event, they all got behind him, up close and personal, with the result that all they can see is his Prostate, live and di-rectal.

Lemme get personal for a spell. My parents had cows, dogs, pigs, a donkey—no, not me!—five sons and seven daughters but no kids. Despite their meagre resources, they ensured each child got a gift on our birthday but never once gifted one of us anything.

‘Presently’, my long-deceased father used to tell us, with all the scholarly confidence of his primary school education, means ‘not long from now’ whereas ‘at present’ is a synonym of ‘now’.

That was then. In his world and, ergo, in ours, nouns were nouns—‘mosquito’ and ‘practice’ and ‘advice’ with a c—and verbs were verbs—‘practise’ and ‘advise’ with an s—and there ne’er was any confusion. Or rarely.

Practising what he advised, one or two of his sporting sons represented winningest football teams. But none ever had the misfortune to be stretchered off the field; I would probably have insisted on being carried off on a stretcher anyway.

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh captain Damian Williams (right) offers a hand to Morvant Caledonia United player Sheldon Holder as he is ‘stretchered’ off during 2015/16 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

What is certain is that, had one of us had the temerity, practising what Trump advised, to grab someone by the pussy, we would not have dared to plead guilty; had you pled guilty, you’d probably be dead—at best half-dead—the moment you were alone with him.

My mother too frowned on transgressions, minor or major. Were you to return from school with something with which you had not left, you would have to have a water-tight explanation as to why you had brung whatever it is home.

And you offered some rigmarole about the dog having drug it into the yard at your peril.

I candidly concede that I live in the 21st century, but I belong in the 20th. Fast food? Not for me, thanks. Being able to read for uninterrupted hours on end is a fun day or me. Or watching golf or cricket on TV ad infinitum.

My status is ‘married’ and I’ve never been on FB. Or Twitter. I don’t automatically google stuff, I always spellcheck my copy, text or WhatsApp sparingly and often have no idea where my cell phone is.

I’m pathetic? I know. I swear, though, that I’m making an effort—wait for “efforting” one of these days—to transition.

Why? It’s like I can see it coming. If a fly can fly, we used to ask in jest all those centuries ago, why can’t a mosquito mosquito?

Embed from Getty Images

Well, TV6’s James Saunders recently reported that someone airborned a ball. So sometime soon on the radio or on TV, we may hear this: “On Capitol Hill yesterday, President Trump’s Republican senators mosquitoed Lead Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff and his Democratic cronies.”

And no one will bat an eye.

Who would’ve thunk it?


About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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One comment

  1. Scotty Ranking

    You say Trump is e-literate? I would venture barely-literate!