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The Idle American
Lin's World of Words...
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 • Posted February 29, 2012

It’s enough to make a grown man—or woman—cry. And it could induce “sniffle-like symptoms” for discerning teen-agers, albeit the latter a shrinking group. With an “America, love it or leave it” sentiment strong in the land, we yearn for newcomers to learn English. It’s a worthy goal. Trouble is, we natives are having a hard time keeping up with it ourselves, what with new words introduced at a record clip and old words cast aside like old tires in a wrecking yard.And “talking heads” on newscasts—as well as “mikeside” announcers at sporting events— aren’t helping. They often butcher the language, slaughtering both grammar and pronunciation.English teachers are tossing their pencils— particularly retired ones who hoped and prayed that students whose papers they reddened with corrections would turn out better….*****Paces hasten as life is compressed. “Once over lightly” is now a daily practice that blankets our waking hours. Abbreviations are given “thumbs up” for both the written and spoken word.We welcome shortcuts. Postures for prayer became “Tebowing”—seemingly overnight—and now, the emergence of NBA star Jeremy Lin has sparked such national interest that a new vocabulary is emerging. It applies specifically to him and his growing legion of fans. He’s in the process of copyrighting the word “Lin-sanity,” for goodness sakes, and in the rapidly-whirling literary world of Lin, “L’s” now precede dozens of words that formerly began with “in.”…*****We’re now “Lin-formed,” and visitors in his home need first to be “Lin-vited.” He clearly is “Lin-dustrious,” and he “Lin-vokes” the sort of verbiage that Christians are hungry to hear. When’s the last time you heard a superstar quoting Corinthians? (It’s good to know Harvard—moored by Puritans, then Baptists, in its early years nearly 400 years ago—has at least one graduate acknowledging the scriptures.)Lin’s boldness, brightness and character are traits we dream of in sports stars. Can he be as genuine as he seems? So far, so good.Millions line up (dare we say “LINear?”) to pull for him. Oh, that he might “Lin-spire” our youth, always be “Lin-sational” and never be “Lin-visible.”…*****With luck and continued commitment, this Harvard graduate could change the way we view sports stars. (Wasn’t it the Dallas Cowboys’ Hollywood Henderson who said Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw couldn’t spell “cat” if you spotted him the “c” and the “t?”) Lin is extremely articulate, using words like “anomaly.”If anyone can have fun with all the new “Lin” words, he can.“Googled” by gazillions, Lin stands taller than his height and seems wiser than his years. Refreshing. Remarkable….*****Getting back to absolutes, maybe Lin could become the “LINchpin” to secure our moorings of truth, fairness, honor, integrity and a host of other words long viewed as the glue holding square deals together.Such squaring won’t come easily. We’ve rounded too many corners, essentially making such “deals” circular.Maybe that’s why so many running in circular motions think themselves to be big wheels….*****Lin’s play on the court—and play on words—provide some relief from “catch phrases” that usually run at a gallop for a season or two. Yes, the reference is to sports announcers and athletes.We still hear too many “you knows,” and we’ve heard enough “at the end of the day,” another expression that is suffering literary fatigue. (“Are you kidding me?” by sports reporters is an expression long since “tuckered out.”)If Lin can succeed in “squaring things up,” we may even hear “That’s the way we roll” less often. Whatever, he’s bound to give us plenty of “Lin-side” information, and, in some games, add “Lin-sult to Lin-jury.” Millions of admirers hang on his every word and watch his every move. After all, we have “Lin-satiable” appetites for such a feel good story¸ and will vote “yes” if they introduce “Lin-glish as a second language.” And, if Lin’s basketball magic turns to mush, he can grab his cello and head for the symphony. I don’t know how many chairs they have for cellists, but he’d be in one of the first ones….*****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Inquiries/emails to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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