or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I work in a retail environment, and one of the poisonous things about it is the music that they play over the speakers. Ninety per cent of the music is at best complete dreck and at worst the most appalling music ever written and recorded. Some is recent stuff: Sheryl Crow, god help us, that talentless, hacksaw-voiced harpy, and various worthless popular singers such as Taylor Swift and John Mayer. There's plenty of bad eighties music, too, a shocking amount of the ungifted Billy Joel, and lots of Rod Stewart from every era, as if to show that he's never been much of a singer from the seventies to today. And how is it that Michael Bolton ever became famous and popular, given that he can't actually sing and that most of his songs sound as if he's straining over a particularly difficult bowel movement?

Anyway, one of the songs that made it into the new rotation is an Andy Gibb song from the seventies, before he died unexpectedly of heart disease, called, ickily, "Love is Thicker than Water". One of the lyrics is

You are
This dreamer's only dream
Heaven's angel
Devil's daughter

I could hear the song as I was working, and something about it seemed odd, as if it were a record that was skipping; we've had songs that had glitches in them before, but this glitch seemed oddly specific, so I deliberately listened, and discovered a shocking thing: the word "devil's" had been edited out every time it occurred. Someone, presumably at the store level, actually took offence at the song, and someone else, presumably at the corporate level, actually went through it and scissored out the offending word, not bleeped it or dropped the level so you couldn't quite make it out but simply hacked the word bodily out of the song, leaving a jarringly obvious lurch every time it occurred. They didn't just decide not to use the song (which would have gone unnoticed): they decided to used an obviously bowdlerized version.

Censorship: ptui.


I was looking in my head for the word "spitted", as a roast, and came up instead with the word "spittooned", which doesn't actually exist, but it got me to wondering how we have the word "spit" for a rod onto which we fasten meat for cooking (and also a projection of land into the water, obviously an extension of this meaning) and also the word "spit" meaning "expectorate". Not possible that they're in any way related, surely?

Surely not. The "expectorate" sense is related to "spew", and the "pole" sense is related to "spike", and the fact that they look alike is just another one of those collisions that make English so interesting and challenging.


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