tv White House Chronicles PBS November 22, 2009 9:00am-9:30am EST
captioned by the national captiong institute --w.ncicap.org-- >> hello, i'm llewellyn king, the host of "wte house chronicle,which is coming right up. fit, a few thoughts of my own. this is a magnifyi glass, d in front of i have this gian book. but it is only a small version of sometng even bigger. it is t compact veron of the oxrd english dictionary.
the type is s tiny -- iad never seenight this ty, smler than the smallesible type y have ever seen --hat you ve to have this mnifier toead it at all. no human eye can read it. it is a matte of incredible printing ski that they can do this. of cours its easier to see it online, b it is quite wonderful to see these wonderful, iredible words. i love reading dictionies because wh i get stuck on rd, i look iup. then i see anotherword, and other word, and then i have wasted a half an hour. hofully i am rememberg may be one othem bause i in -- because i tend to learn a l of words. today we are going to talk about words, the iact of words i politics, thempact ofords generally, how we use them, and
what a wonderful ehemism is we ha. in particular, we are goingo talk about t euphemisms we have for drinking, because my friend paul dickson has written a book called simply, "drug," and it has words -- "unk," and itas words that describ tha state. when we have something that has be fmented or brood. we will be back talki about litics afterhese titles. >> "white house chronie" is proded in collaboration with whut howard univeity television now, your host, nationay syndicated cumnist llellyn king. and co-host linda gasparello
>> hello again. thank yosouch for coming ong. i am joine by linda gasparello, the co-host of this program, and by the gat and remarkable paul dickson, a real maof letters, a phrase that we d not hear much anymore but we think is a gh accolade. >> thank you, sir >> u have written 53 books? hodo you write 53 book >> it is all i do. if i was barber and i said i cut 2 millioheads of hair, you would say that is what a bber does. >> h long has it taken you to writ53 books? >> i have been independent writer sce 1968, so for 40 years. >> that is a lite more than a ok a year. th one is great fun because it is about drinking. but a lot of your books have been aboutords, haven't they? >> i havhad sever mor
books on words. my baseball dictionary came out agn this year. this was a different thing. i have always looked on language as recreation. if you are drowning, you yell help. that is the mostutilitarian asct of nguage. but the's also a part that camento our lives with the crossword puzzle, the scrabble me, the columns of william safire. william safire was amazing, a contribution to the concept of linguiics, which was a word like. this thing ce about because i waed to get into "theuinness book oworld records." >> an egorip? >> well, always thought it would be fun to get into "the inness book." people always gotn my riding bicycle or pushing a peanut with the tip of their nose. but you're oxford englis dictionary,he record for the
number of definitions iset, s-e-t in, with 137efinitions. >> nobody quite knew what it men. it would be par set, -- nobody quitknew what it meant. it would be party said, fate said -- >> and then set of tens. >> george orwell and others,ut particularly george orwell, wrote abouthe power o language in politics and the corruption of langge for litical purposes and ce versa. can you tells a little bit about the power of language? i will give you se leads the repuicans have always been very good at freezg the debate and usg their word. the prlife forces went to ireland and said to t irish who wereighting abortion, "don't talkbout the fet,
talk about theaby." that is the use of language for political effect. give us some examples of that. >> one of the thgs i colleed over the yearsjust as sort o a prison f looking at this, is bui -- as a sort of sasa pr ism for loing at this -- dwight d. senhowerurned prioritynto a vb -- prioritize. the phrase, rsevelt came up with theireside chat. avorite is teddy roosevelt. came up with some doozies one ofis was a lunatic fringe. >> teddy roosevelt came up with that? interestin >> callp the channel and tell them that they ar doing well. >> the other was muckrakers. that was one of his tes. fferson was a great gat creatoof language.
>>heas a wordy. electneering, indecipherable, monotonously -- pedicure. the noun did -- he invted a word for new words. his big contributi was ang phe. he picked th up in a way that people we too cozy wi the british culture, so it was a pejorative to him. almost every presint right throug -- >> tt is very interesting, the way waterloo has bece universal fodefeat. the allieson. but it has become aynonym for defeat. >> but it is the vagaries of our language. look at the rd raise.
if its r-auiei-se, it is tearing down -- is building a building. if its our a, it is tearing it down. >> gerrymandering -- changing district in massachuses to been democratic. it looked like a salamander after he did it. when boston newspaper said it is not salamander, it is a gerrymanr. that is how germandering came to it fence mending also came out of a political manver, and we havso many of these things at have come o of politics. does anybodhave any out of recent presidents? we know, for example,hat george. bushas not an eas
traneous speaker. >> he made wordthat, yes. sunderestimateas one. >> yes. >> we are ready for a contrition from president obama beyond "weead up." it somehowit. >> well, he is really carefu with his lguage. he really,s a lawyer, but said it in a very lawyerly way, and he tends to be choosing very precise wor. >> am not necessarily saying that -- both obama a bush had very good speech writers. iave watched bush just stumbling around before he got to the speec i once was inermany and he s not doing well. when he got the speech,t w
very good becse he read it wellnd he was comfortable. when he had thateleprompter, head a degree of comfort that he wouldot have had otherse. d obama does bh he alws has a teleprompter, and he seems quite comfoable without it at the press conferences there is a big teleprompter that is close to a shield. he reads the first few remar even athey sound quite informal of that, but then he is into questions and he on his own and heoes just as well. >> rht. >> so he i naturally articulate. i wonder, though, whether he will leave us with any great rases that will go down in story. i do nothink he has yet. >> right, and you do not really knowntil a little bit after the fact. it was interesti. one of the ones that george bush used after 9/11 was normal say,
d that was -- was normalc, and that was greed bwarren harding. another word w below the eight. i wondered where tt came from. --nother word was bloviat >> i wondered where that came from. >> fox news. >> somee said the greaproof of theesilience in the american democracy i that it suived the harding administration. he did have a way with words, and bloviate wer -- wa his wo for the members of coness who never opped bloviating. >>n a momt we will lk about your new book, "drunk." but i would jt like to remind that w are airing on sorrieirium
radio produs "white house chronicle -- radi thiss "white hoe chronicle," toted by linda gasparello. there is a hindi word that came in the language. some wds stock and some words just went away, tho partularly inc. from ench. some state and some did not. do youave any thoughts aut that >> there areany words were shakpeare either created them mselfr they were words tt he was hearing on the street. fireworks -- before then they
were pyrotechnics. there is no such wd as road, anthat was coined by shakespeare. en it comes to drug, if you're not paying attention, heould --hen it comes to drunk,f u are not payingttention, he would talk about someone coming into the roowith the sun i his eyes. what he isalking about is the person is plastered. d chaucer h a l. one of tnteresting things about the drunk thing, the people whoade the lists are classi the first one who made aist was benjam franklin, who ce up with 227 words. then dickens had a list. ty are all ahead of their ti. >> i can imane that. >> i havalways liked the wds not about beg drunk,ut not the drink itself. of which there are my, too.
i always like to sundown. it is just d less. there is note -- it is just d less. there is no other subject that has as many description is there? 2900 and something? >> the first list was 2231. i had to get him into this book because it was nothe word drunk -- i wanted e person who clected the most synyms in the englh language, so iad pretty stricrules. i had to either fd them in literature or find some cition. i could t just sit around and ma them up. i got all tse other peoe helping me. the lateilliam safire, for example, helped me find words for this boo he was one of east people to throa fewogs on the fe. >> amuse me. gha!
and one of my favorites, gag >> g. k. chesterton did t feel it was pper to refer to dead drunk. by the way, shakespeare is the first one in literature to use "dead drunk." chesterton felt that there had to be anoer word for that, and he came upith "blotto." >> idoes not sound le it was morehan 100 years old, does it? >> i have a charaer who ys, "my me is auto, i like to get blotto." >> d the english also me up with squiffy. >> the onehat came from the satirical magazine private eye to describ drunken politicians, overltired and
emotional. jourlists were famous for ing overly tired and emotional. >> that is onof the reasons you have some my euphemism and i went all through the british tabloids going bk to e turn-of-the-ceury they were using cockney -- to the turn othe century. the were using coceyhyming list >> apples and pears, four of the stairs. i do not pretendo knowt, but i know a few phrases. they could talk using tse deritive words. derived on their rhyming. that is all. buthey could havehole conversations in the >> pau in a number of books at you talk about words, do you gin with dictionaries? how do you bin the search? >> that is a great question. when i was a kid other kids
were clecting baseball cards and i used to -- i just love collecting words, and i find -- i kept finding these -- i went to dictionaries and stted making lists. myig work this year is t new edition of my baseball dictionary, whi is a 4.2-pound dictionary of jt terms from baseball part of it is this fascination with language. somebody once said ira campbell, one of the great british wrers, said tha -- >> look at this. >> it is 4.2 pounds. >> go back andork harder. there muste more words could >> thiis how it started. one of my kids, we were athe ba game. they said why do they s umpire and not referee? why do theyay shortstop? would go the dictionary and
give them swers. why do ty say bount instead of bu? beuse you are really bumping the ball? in 1989, tre were 5000 terms. the second edition, i had another rsion. this jt came this ye. this has0,287 terms and over 18,000 defitions. >> iust opened it and im intrigued by hottove league. >> tt was the guys who sat around the general store in the nter and discussed the upcoming season. there are someransitions back and forth between th british and baseball. my fair won his rookie --y favorite one is aookie. beginner. at shows up inedwood can clin -- in rudyard kling, in
a poem meaning a recru. but it gets picked up by americans, and th'resing it exclusely for aeginning player a guy in his first year. then, in the falklands w, the british pick it up agai for recruit and they y youikki, an american baseball tm, and they were -- they say rkey, an american basebal term, and they were going back and forth across the atlantic. >> that is really interesting. >> who d you think today in politics, anit is probably not a particularly fair questn -- but has used words in recent times well to further their coing of phrases obaare -- of phrases? obama ca -- somebody coined that as a pejorative corning pejorative words for democratic programs.
>> that is a great queion because i not sure -- am not sure that that area has not passed tsome degree. their sound bites, -- the sound bites, i c remember a time where it seemed like the dirksons and the humphriesnd the rest of them, they uld carry aessage with their voice. >> tre is a new stu out of words or phrases that anno people. i think the one that comes to e top- whatever i tnk was the one at people find mo annoying. like bothers me beuse i thi the poor ltle word as has been dropped. most people respond to a question by saying "well." another phrase is "at the end of
the d." if you are having anrgument, a "at the end of the d, does it work?" i found it intesting because it is used souch. and don't you think,r "you know." >> one that i have used aot these days, pecially when you're deali with a spokesman for government agency or even at the white house is, obously. it is not obvious to us. it really is not. if you would jt give it a little b of time to work into whatou wanted to say. >> the pres sectary says "each and every" a lot. "each and every member,ach and every this. sometimes it irritates me beuse i tnk it supeluous. >> obviously, othisresident. >> well, they used to be well-
known. one of lincoln pkitt contributis to language -- one of lincoln's contributions t langges "point well tak." i remember in the o days when i had college professors wh smoked pipes, they would oen -- >> did you have any that d not oke pipes? >> on of the things, theipe s i think, so you d not have to use a word like like or ok. they are verbapledges that we use to get from one ought to anotr. you find youelf doing yourself and having to reint in. and then your less spontaneo because y're thinking about i'm gointo usehe word hopefuy or iregdless. the proem with thiss-
just sta on -- >> just stay on irregardss. we had flammable, in flammable. at one time, ery copy editor this country went mad if you said finalize,ou kno now it is a standar english word and nobody has bothered by . >> and nobody has bothered by priorize, either. >> when eisenhower start to use that, the was an editorial in several papers that would criticize him for it. but wh is ieresting as we havellhis change in langge. language ia plant site -- is it clear the site every high scol english teacher inhe country at some time duri the day says the word "pefully, it is game over. they say that iregardss is a
barbarism, which is you are a parent, but it contains a stronger sense of regardlessness. >> igree with that. at some point you le the point of literature ift changes so racally. we cannot read middle english or old english, and it gets harder and harder as the lanage changes to retain its literature >> but we can still read shakespeare. >> absoluty. > even t collegie dictionary wl keep it were ive for the simple reason th its used bshakespeare. the fa is, good writg seems to be le to survive. cleawriting -- cucer, shespeare, dickens. mark twain. mark twains still very -- hemingway is stillery --ark twain is still very fuy. some people ar not.
some people are flamboyant, and over the edge. james freemworks cooper is gone. bam -james said mark coope -- james fenimore cooper is gone. >> hemingway reads very well because of the terse way that he wrote, and he presumably will read very well for a long time. >> iit because we do not know the words when you're readingn 18th- centurbritish novel, are there gog to be some words that you will have to ok up? >> you d not have to go that far back. i read some books by john paul. every page, i thoughte was pushing it i work at the daily mirror newspapein england, and we allegedly had 500-word vocabulary. it was not written down somewhere, but it was an effort to usehe spler words so that
the readers could understan what you were lking about. it ao was a newspaper tt favored r at least alled the cliche. if you said black as ink, that was not necessarily a nno, as it would be in many newspapers because it was a clie people derstand that. that is hothey speak and ink. do youave a favorite book, "baseball" o "drunk"? >> we were talking abo "can of corn" 4 "a lazy fly ball." the field is drifting back and it sort of dropped int his gle --he fielder is drifting backnd it's sort of jobs and his glove. the etology is backea grocery ores when they had these mechanical abbers.
heould throw out his apron to catch the point. it would just sort of tumbledown. >> telle how doetell me out of "drunk, e oyour favorite descriptns, three sheets to the wind, st of thing. >>one ofhe major ones that i think is vy funny is feng sh uied. that is aesigner comg out of a party fairly feng shuied, where th furnure in his brain rearranged. >> paul dickson, wonrful riding it's very interesting man. tohink about buying these books. they make great gifts.
we will try to sta sober until next weewhen we look forward to joining with yo if you want to visit with u come to our website, wh chronicle.com until then, cheers. captioned by the national ctioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> "white houschronicle" is producedn collaboration with whut howard universy levision. from washington, d.c., thi has been "whithouse chronicle," a weekly analysiof the news with insight and a sense of humor, featuri llewellyn king, linda gaspallo, and guests.