Sunday 20 November 2016

Old "Fart" Avoids Chance Comment on US Current Affairs

To date my posts have primarily reflected my interest in genealogy and early asylum life. Being an aspiring wordsmith, I thought it was time for a change and that I should make a small tongue-in-cheek contribution to our use of the English language across the globe.

I was fascinated by the media discussion prompted by Canadian MP Michelle Rempel's use of "un-parliamentary" language in a recent debate when she passionately attacked government inaction regarding unemployment in her Alberta constituency. Rather than criticise Michelle's vocabulary I would like to congratulate her. Michelle's use of words may have narrowly averted an international incident and possibly even a lawsuit.

The moment was captured by CBC News and this video clip found its way onto uTube.

Michelle had asked "Why does this government treat Alberta like a 'fart in the room' that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge?"

MP Elizabeth May quickly interrupted to draw the speaker's attention to Michelle's use of an "un-parliamentary" word which she spelled out -  "F A R T". Elizabeth suggested that Michelle would probably want to withdraw it, prompting a McEnroe-like outburst of "Are you serious Mr Speaker?" Michelle did not withdraw her remark.

For those of you unfamiliar with the expression, my copy of The Chambers Dictionary 12th Edition explains the meaning of the word in question and suggests that its origins date back to Old English, perhaps 5th century Anglo-Saxon.

Note that Chambers classifies the word as "vulgar slang" so not normally used in polite conversation. Certainly in this part of the UK, we parents when bringing up our kids encouraged the use of an alternative word to describe what is after all a naturally occurring phenomenon. When in company, if our kids felt they just had to make reference to a "botty-pop" they had been taught to use the much more PC word "trump", usually accompanied by blasts of laughter.

Michelle's excellent choice of words in very plain old English made it perfectly clear what she meant. She also avoided causing any confusion given recent events in the United States where there will soon be someone in a rather oval room certainly wanting to be talked about and acknowledged by everybody.

This "old fart" (n a staid or curmudgeonly old person) is going to sign off here to peruse my latest copy of  Private Eye, thus avoiding the temptation to make gratuitous links between the two definitions above which I will leave to others.