Will is Practicin’ Official English

# 363, April 24, 2005

WILDCAT, West Virginia: The big news in these parts and all across the country is that last week, by an act of the State Legislature, English is the Official Language of West Virginia.

From now on, any English spoken in any other state is not Official.

Any other states that want to make English their official language (and believe me, there’s plenty of Legislators all fer it), they’ve got to go through West Virginia to do it.

For every “g” that West Virginia drops from the ends of words, Massachusetts adds a dozen “r’s”. Any Scrabble game you buy in Massachusetts, they put in a bunch of extra “R” blocks. You turn those blocks over, and you find the “G’s” they took out of the West Virginia Scrabble.

At West Virginia University they have all their English majors workin’ nights and weekends compilin’ dictionaries for trainin’ other states. (See, I’m already catchin’ on.) Dropping all those g’s means the newspapers are shorter, don’t take near as many pages as in Boston. Now when it comes to speakin’, Massachusetts talks so fast they cram more words into a shorter time, even with those excess letters. That’s why when a Senator from Massachusetts talks for 30 minutes it takes a West Virginian 45 minutes to listen and figure out what he said. On the radio in Massachusetts the local news only takes 3 minutes; in West Virginia it’s closer to 10. Of course that includes obituaries and who all was let in or let out of the hospital.

Now it ain’t just Massachusetts. Every state has their own peculiarities in language. So as a public service to help folks in other states wanting to get a head start on this official English, here’s a few official West Virginia words for you to chew on.

A right smart number of these terms are also common to Oklahoma, or at least they seem to be, ’cause they showed up in what “I” wrote for the newspapers (in bold).   It could also be because one of my ancestors landed from Ireland 200 years ago and spent quite some time in these parts.

Fetch    “But while (my Weekly Article) does not bring home the Literary praise, it does fetch in some buckwheat cakes accompanied by bacon.”

Vittles    “…and let our native food spoilers fix them up a batch of vittles garnished with…”

Pert    “So you can’t blame him very much for not feeling any too pert.” (This one means lively, and you pronounce it “peert”)

Plum    “I get to doing all this foolishness, and plum forget to do what I ought to do.”

Loft    “I used to be scared to climb up as high as the barn loft unless there was a load of hay being pitched in.” (You city folks know that one because landlords fix up these old dusty attics, call it a loft, and charge you $1500 a month to climb up there and sleep.)

Bust    “(President Hoover), we all know that you was handed a balloon that was blowed up to its utmost. You held it as carefully as any one could, but the thing busted right in your hands.”

Yonder   “All I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see here and yonder.

Holler    (here you get two words for the price of one) “Everybody hollers about all this big new batch of money that is to be spent.” It’s also a small valley, often with a crick runnin’ through it.

Poke     (Here’s one with at least four or five meanings, a humongous bargain) “So you see it wasent any organized effort to poke pears down a Visitor’s throat by the better business element.”
” …it was pitch dark. Cabs were poking along, people feeling their way about.”
“A good many papers are poking fun at these “Progressives” who are meeting in Washington.”
Poke is also a sack to put your store-bought groceries in. And, in a pinch, a Poke can fill in for a Samsonite.

Well, that’s a few official words to start off with. I don’t want to give you the whole kitt and caboodle in one lesson. As kind of a homework assignment, for bonus points here’s five words to figure out by next week: dreckly; press; cuttin’ up; nairy; and ramp.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: see above

Pope Benedict, and a tribute to former President Harding

# 362, April 19, 2005

MARION, Ohio:  My speaking career and the news from the Vatican seem to be running in parallel this month. Today I was invited to address a lunch put on by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, which to some of us older folks means Secretaries, and as soon as I quit talking, news came over the radio about the new Pope Benedict XVI. (I ain’t sure but I believe that’s 16 in the Roman language). Well, by coincidence on April 2, I was appearing at an Armstrong Steel Erectors safety conference, and right after the bell rang for me to quit, we got word of the passing of John Paul II. Now, I don’t know what the next big news from the Catholic Church might be, but I’m gonna try to get a speech scheduled just ahead of it.

This is the home of our former President, Warren G. Harding, and the big news in The Marion Star, the paper he founded, is about plans for a Mural they’re going to paint on the side of a building. It’s big enough they can include a chunk of the history of the whole county. They got some good ideas so far, and they’ll sure make room for an image of Mr. Harding. I suggest they show the front page of the paper in 1921 with his picture and the headline the day he was inaugurated. If they include a golf club for him, it’ll put a smile on his face. They’ll draw a train, a farm field with corn and cows and hogs, and maybe an ice cream cone. And a box of Cracker Jacks. I bet you didn’t know, and I didn’t myself till today, that no matter where in the world you eat Cracker Jacks, they come from Marion.

In Oklahoma City, they paid tribute to the victims of that fertilizer bomb ten years ago. They did away with McVey, and if our courts can get off the streets more of these hate-filled radicals that want to do harm to their our country, why maybe then we could spend more manpower on the ones trying to sneak in.

Gas is down to $2.00. Say, did you ever think gas at $2.00 would be GOOD news?

P.S. Yes, gas was $1.95 the day I wrote this. The next morning every station in Ohio had it back up to $2.25.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

(On meeting President Harding in the White House) “But [Will Hayes] didn’t even get to start to introduce me before the President said, ‘Hello, where’s your chewing gum?’ So instead of me telling him anything funny, he starts in repeating things I had said on the Follies for years. So the fellow who tells you Mr. Harding went right from the farm to the White House is cuckoo. I told him I wanted to tell him the latest political jokes. He said, ‘I know them. I appointed most of them.'” (undated notes)

“I only hope our future presidents can be gifted with his sense of humor and justice. He was a mighty good friend to us theatrical people; he was a good friend to all kinds of people.” WA # 36, August 19, 1923

“If [President Harding] had a weakness it was in trusting friends, and the man that don’t do that, then there is something the matter with him. Betrayed by friendship is not a bad Memorial to leave.” DT #1528, June 16, 1931

Will Rogers on Kings of England, Popes, Divorce, and the Boelyn (or Boleyn) sisters

# 361, April 10, 2005

COLUMBUS: Newspapers say 4 million people were in Rome for the funeral. Maybe 500 million around the world attended a memorial service. Church leaders of all faiths are praying those folks will show up for their regular worship services next weekend.

There’s 115 Cardinals camping out at the Vatican, spending the next week or so to get acquainted, size each other up, and then get down to business. It’s kind of a condensed version of a New Hampshire primary campaign, except there’s no snow and only the candidates get to vote. The voting may take a few days, or it could be like the 1924 Democratic Convention and go on for weeks. If it is successful, and they end up with an ideal Pope like John Paul II, the Democrats themselves may adopt the same idea for 2008. The biggest problem, once word gets out about the new plan, will be narrowing the field of candidates to 115.

Charles and Camilla got married yesterday. Let us pray she does not meet the same end as King Henry’s second bride. (see below)

Historic Quotes from Will Rogers:

Will Rogers had just finished reading a biography, “Henry the Eighth” by Francis Hackett, and wrote two of his Weekly Articles as kind of a book report. King Henry VIII reigned from 1509 to 1547. Below is most of the second WA. I have added a couple of details in [brackets]. Will Rogers wrote an accurate, short and humorous account of this part of Henry’s life, probably more factual than the movie “The Other Boleyn Girl”.

“All I know is just what I read in history. Last Sunday our lesson was Henry 8th. I told you about his first wife, Catherine of Arragon. Arragon translated from our old College days Latin means, ‘Somewhere in Spain.’ Well Henry just ‘lost his taste for Catherine.’ He was trying to raise him a bunch of Boy Babies and Catherine’s inclination ran more to the effeminate.

Now we get Anne Boelyn (Anne Boleyn). Catherine was a devout Catholic, and dident believe in a divorce. But Anne could regulate her religion and her morals to fit the situation. She just said, “If this big fat round headed Bird is going to start in on a series of promiscious weddings, why I better get in early, while he is really only an Amateur.”

But wait a minute, before we get to Anne, we got to stop and do something for Mary Boelyn, Anne’s sister [one year younger]. Mary had a husband named Carey. But what’s a husband between friends?… Now Anne comes in. Anne Boleyn was nineteen, Henry was 35. Catherine Boleyn, his wife, was 41. Now who of the two will win? You said it.

…This Cardinal Woolsey was the one that King Henry kept promising that he would see that he would be made Pope at the next vacancy. Well, Woolsey had the backing of Henry but he lacked the vote of some 55 Cardinals. If it hadent been for that little oversight he might have been elected. Henry was for him on the platform of ‘Divorce relief.’ Clement the Pope couldent see any reason why Henry should have a spare wife when he already had one, but if Henry could make Woolsey Pope he could have have given him a bill of sale to go out and marry who and what he wanted. Why there is practically no telling who all Henry would have married.

No woman would have been safe from becoming Queen of England. Woolsey would go to Rome when a Pope would die with what Henry thought would be enough votes. But some other King from France or Spain would send an entry with more ‘Doubloons’ and before poor old Woolsey could cummunicate with Henry to make another Campaign donation, why the new Pope would be elected. Radio, or even a good Bicycle, would have been a godsend to Woolsey in those trying hours. But it just looked like Woolsey was a Democrat in a Republican administration. So when Henry the 8th saw that Rome was going to veto his divorce bills, why Henry and Woolsey started a religion of their own.

It wasent exactly a free love religion, But they would listen to reason in case some ‘Gentleman’ run onto a younger Lady friend. Had Rome given Henry a divorce there would have been no Church of England, for Henry wasent particular about what religion it was, all he wanted was, ‘Bigger and better Divorces.’ So this Anne Boelyn really should be their Patron Saint. She not only started a row, but a Religion.

Henry kinder suggested to Anne that there really dident have to be any marriage ceremony. But Anne had seen where her sister Mary had finished when there had been no wedding bells. So she just kindly informed the old King that there would be a session with the Justice of the Peace before he started any of his funny business.

This Anne lived in 1529 just four hundred years ago, but Boy she knew her Onions. She not only knew her Onions but her King.

Henry started a couple of wars thinking maybe that would attract some attention to him and his Country and make it look so important that Rome would have to listen to reason. That’s when he issued that famous historic statement, ‘My Kingdom, My Kingdom for a divorce.’ Anne stood pat, and the Catholic church lost England, which was of such little importance to them that it was about like [Herbert] Hoover losing Rhode Island. Martin Luther over in Germany was kinder kicking for a minority religion at this time, and I guess that’s really about where Henry got his idea from. Luther dident want to get married again, he just wanted to get free.

Well when he got his own Court and made his own laws, why of course he said that Catherine was not married to him. He had it annulled on the grounds that he had never seen Anne Boelyn when he married Catherine. Mistaken identity. So he grabs off Anne, and leaves Catherine and his daughter Mary [Queen Mary I, from 1553-1558], marries Anne and in five months she has a baby and it’s a Girl so he starts looking around again. This baby was Elizabeth, that we are later to hear so much of. [Queen Elizabeth I, from 1558-1603] What happened to Anne? The Axe. What had she done? Nothing. But Henry had run onto Jane Seymour, and in the meantime Catherine had died of a broken heart, so his batting average was met two, defeated two.

Here is what Anne Boelyn said, ‘I heard the Executioner is very good, and I have a little neck.’ That night Henry give a big party; he had found a better way than to divorce ’em. He married Jane who dident have much to recommend her outside of just being of the female gender. Well they hadent any more than got home from the church till they had a baby, and it was a boy, and she died at once, which was fortunate for her, for he was already in communication with Germany to import a new wife from over there. Her name was Anne of Cleves. His Ministers had picked her from a Hans Holbein Portrait, so they brought her over and I will say one thing for old Henry, he had no conscience but he did have judgement. He went to the docks to meet Anne from Germany, and got one flash at her, and chopped off Cromwell’s head for being such a bad judge of beauty. But it looked like it would strengthen the Kingdom with Europe if he married her, so he shut his eyes and went at it. She had been what the Japanese call a Picture bride, all they see is the picture. But Holbein was a painter, not a camera. If Cameras had been in use it would have saved Henry that marriage. One snap shot with a No. 2 Brownie of her, would have kept her right at home. She had a lot of breeding but no class. She was a Princess 31 years old; she made up in virtue what she lacked in charm. Well Henry had never been very high on virtue. What he wanted was beauty, and how!! And Henry dident know what that was. Neither do I.

Cromwell said, ‘Yes, me Lord, but she hath a Queenly manner.’ Henry wisecracking back, ‘Well she don’t need it to protect her.’ She missed beheading by his divorcing her and sending her home.

Now we get Catherine Howard, a cousin of Anne Boelyn’s. She went to the block with these kind words, ‘I die Queen of England, but I would rather die the wife of a Culpepper,’

Well that dident make Henry feel any too good, to know that he wasent in as good favor as Culpepper, so he just hunted up [Thomas] Culpepper and off with his bean. Oh, what a cheerful little ancestor our folks that come over on the Mayflower had in this Gentleman Henry.

Well he was death on Catherines. He gets another one, only they all spell their name different. This last one is Katherine Parr. She was a motherly kind of a soul and they do say, and all hoped it was true, that she poisoned him. Anyhow she beat him to the Axe. She had been married twice before, and you got to learn something in that time, course Henry had her Six to Three, but her and that English grog bumped him off before he could get her. She buried him and then married the man of her choice which was No. 4 for her.

And then we say, ‘What’s our Country coming to, we are getting worse and worse.’

Well it looks to me the only safe man in those days was the Axe man.” WA # 337, June 9, 1929.

“Sol Bloom [Senator] of New York… is the Jewish friend of mine that gave me the letter of Introduction to the Pope, last year when I was going to Rome. Not only gave it to me but it worked, and I saw him.” WA # 220, Feb. 27, 1927.

“I don’t care what your religion is, what your belief is, what your opinion on various humanitarian questions: individuals, and political parties especially, can learn much from the Pope of the great Catholic Church. [Pope Pius XI] When you read what he says you don’t have to start wondering, or ask your neighbor what he meant, he says what he meant.” DT # 1393, Jan. 9, 1931.

“I guess our country holds the record for dumbness. The Pope spoke to the world this morning in three languages and we didn’t understand a one of ’em.” DT # 1501, May 15, 1931.