Saturday, 27 October 2007

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"Unambiguously Clear, in Anglo-Saxon Prose" (Note: Great minds think alike ... some just beat others by a couple hours. I blame Pacific Standard time.) Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, responding to FEMA's staged news conference about the California wildfires: I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government. I have made unambiguously clear, in Anglo-Saxon prose, that it is not to ever happen again and there will be appropriate disciplinary action taken against those people who exhibited what I regard as extraordinarily poor judgment. Why resort to Anglo-Saxon prose? Scratch that. It should read "Why resort to Anglo-Saxon prose again?" Remember the press conference last week in which Chertoff announced Bush was coming to tour liberate California from the wrath of Grendel the wildfires: Her syndon geferede, feorran cumene ofer geofenes begang Geata leode; þone yldestan oretmecgas Geornwig nemnað ... Hine halig God for arstafum us onsende, to West-Denum, þæs ic wen hæbbe. wið wælfyre gryre.[*] Chertoff's more recent performance was slightly less impressive. According to the OED, his "unambiguously clear, Anglo-Saxon prose" may be unambiguous and clear, but Anglo-Saxon it ain't: I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate [Latinate] things I've seen since I've been in government [French]. I have made unambiguously [Latinate] clear [French], in Anglo-Saxon prose [French], that it is not to ever happen [Middle English] again and there will be appropriate [Latinate] disciplinary [French] action [French] taken against [Middle English] those people [Anglo-Norman] who exhibited [Latinate] what I regard [French] as extraordinarily [Latinate] poor [Anglo-Norman] judgment [French]. That's too struck-through with Continental corruption to taste the Director's thick Anglo-Saxon ire. Here's his withering statement again, only now rendered pure: I think it was one of the dumbest and most things I've seen since I've been in. I have, in Anglo-Saxon, that it is not to ever again, and there will be taken those who what I as. I'm sure his drihtguman got the message loud and (unambiguously) clear. [*]Hither have fared to thee far-come men o'er the paths of ocean, people of Geatland; and the stateliest there by his sturdy band is George named ... Blessed God out of his mercy this man hath sent to Danes of the West, as I ween indeed, against horror of raging fires.

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