Works in the Herald 1937

Amongst the unwieldy collection of spurious words and phrases, coined or perverted in fevered haste to meet modern chaotic conditions -- as, for example, "reconditioning," "cavalcade," "finalizing," "implementing" -- now springs the masterpiece. The latest term, used to describe the class of strike, now rapidly spreading in America and elsewhere, is "sit-downing."

Out of the well of English undeviled
   Few phrases come to match the heavy frowning
With which grave scholars long since have reviled
   The modern habit of linguistic clowning.
In vain do they depreciate the mood
   For adjectival "verbing," verbal "nouning";
And now, the worst of all the ugly brood,
   Comes this uncouth monstrosity "Sit-downing."

Had we a worthy Minister of Art,
   I think I should be ceaselessly partitioning
For the stern banning of each flash upstart,
   Like that most awful bounder "air-conditioning":
An apt example of these hustling days
   Of crude circumlocutory "expressioning":
When all they mean by that unlovely phrase
   Is merely ventilating or, say, freshening.

They will "face up to it," who merely face
   A situation, and, in ways surprising,
When they would end a matter then, in place
   Of ending it, they speak of "finalizing."
It may sound erudite to minds that squint --
   This cumbersome and clumsy verbal sinning
That so offends old-fashioned eyes in print
   And pester ancient ears when "listen-inning."

Then let us not, sit-downing to this curse,
   At poisoned pools and wells impure go supping;
But, ere we be afflicted by far worse,
   Let us be resolute in our stand-upping
To this base treason. Let us strike a blow
   At those who in such tangled fields go rovering.
Else shall we see King's-Englishing brought low
   As the last bulwark trembles to fall-overing.

Herald, 24 March 1937, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2008