Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Bastille Day!

True story (many of you have heard it already):

My dad's pulp and paper mill company sells guillotines for chopping huge rolls of paper. One year when he had a day sponsorship for the local NPR station, he wanted a message that went something like, "James Brinkley Company, designer and manufacturer of guillotines" to run on Bastille Day. This caused some alarm. I don't remember if they ran it or not in the end.

They would probably mispronounce it anyway. The kind that cut paper are GILLotines. Paper mill operators can't be bothered with pronouncing French words as the French do, and come to think of it, neither can I. I know there is a consistent pronunciation system for French, but I never learned it, and frankly a language that has so many letters that aren't pronounced seems dreadfully inefficient to me. English is bad enough in that regard, but you don't have to devote an entire government bureau to preserving so many needless consonants.

(Sorry if you took French in high school or something and really like it. Anyone who did is free to bash German in the comments. It's hard not to, but I still like it better than French because even if the words are six pages long, I know how to pronounce them.)

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