A Few Words from the Top

I like the English language. I really do. It’s nice to not have to worry about umlauts, or having the letters “c” and “z” right next to each other, or making phlegmy sounds like you’re about to do an impression of Muffy, the bulimic KKG sister. We don’t have to know what declension means (Possible usage: “It’s too tight, you’ll have to declense”). And those typewriters for the Asiatic languages are a mess. We could have it a lot worse. I don’t think every native speaker appreciates English as I do, however. Some people don’t seem to have taken the time to understand words they use every day. Today’s example: the word “express.”

I went to the financial aid office the other day to drop off some forms, and I mistakenly assumed that the “express line” would move quickly. I waited forty five minutes in the “express line,” just to have the drooling monkey at the window stamp my papers and give me a receipt.

Forty-five minutes for a stamp and a dim-witted smile is not “express.” It’s not even “fast.” Things that slow usually are likened to glaciers, tortoises, and frat boys. Unusually stupid frat boys. Granted, the line did move faster than the “full service” line (another gross misnomer), but that is certainly not a ringing endorsement. Students don’t take five years to finish school because they can’t get their classes. They take an extra year to wait in line. The University should be prohibited from using the term “express” under any circumstances (as well as the terms “full-service,” “worry-free,” “cultural awareness,” and “tuna surprise”).

The University bureaucracy is not the only transgressor, however. Others flagrantly crap all over the word “express.” Living and going to school at UC Berkeley, we have all seen those people who confuse the phrase “freedom of expression,” with the admittedly similar sounding, but quite different in tone, “freedom to embarrass myself and annoy the shit out of everyone.” I know the distinction is a difficult one so here’s a helpful hint: Ask yourself what you are doing. If the answer is “expressing myself, and my cause,” then replace the word “expressing” with “making myself look like an ignorant asshole.” See if you feel like continuing to “express.” BAMN members ought to take special note of this technique. Often I find myself equating the word BAMN with “irritating morons.”

Here’s the kicker: absolutely the most flagrant perversion of the word “express” ever. This one belongs in that file which contains all those unbearably irritating pet peeves which run over your brain like a cheese grater. There is not, nor has there ever been, an “x” in the word “espresso.” It’s an embarrassing statement on the state of education and literacy in America today to hear college students ordering “eXpresso.”

It’s not going to come any faster if you say it that way. It isn’t the Italian pronunciation. In Italian, nearly everything is pronounced the way it is spelled, and there’s no verschlickity “x” in espresso. How can people live their lives without knowing the real meaning of such common words? Personally, I blame Reagan. But I blame Reagan for everything, which is why I failed my class on the Crusades.