Still pumpin' 'em out after all these years

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 6 07:47:47 UTC 2014

On Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:

> BTW, Roz Chast once published a cartoon strip about parents trying to
> explain the poem, "The Man with a Hoe," to their teenager. You don't need
> to see it because it practically rewrites itself.

Years ago, a (white) columnist complained in the Boston Globe of the new
custom of referring to women as "gardening instruments."

I'm still confused, after all these years, as to whether the writer was
serious, displaying a breath-taking amount of white privilege or, in some
sense, (s)he did but jest.


OTOH, could there really be a problem explaining that poem? Has _hoe_
"gardening implement" truly been lost from the language? "Hoe" is now
understood only as an attempt to reproduce the ordinary BE pronunciation of
"whore" in writing? Does "backhoe" also have to be explained? Back in the
day, authors used the spelling, "who'," with an apostrophe.

But that was then.
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

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