Friday, September 18, 2009

Words that Inexplicably Rub Me the Wrong Way


I'm not sure why I hate the word sugar. Lord knows I eat enough of the stuff. But, when spoken, it really grates on my ear. Those consonants just don't belong so close together. Shggrr. It's so fuzzy and tongue-twisting compared to Spanish's crisp azucar and French's oh-so-French sucre.

And don't get me started on Suge Knight. I realize that spelling it "Shoog" or "Shugg" was not an option. But was it really better to spell it in a way that suggests the pronunciation "Sooge"? He should have stuck with Marion. Now there's a name with real street cred, courtesy of one D.C. mayor.

Bookmark and Share


Adrian Morgan said...

Does it sound any better in an Australian accent?

I don't know the names of any D.C. mayors, or any local mayors for that matter. But I do live not far from the Marion shopping centre, which someone once told me contains the biggest cinema complex in the Southern Hemisphere. I'm sceptical about that, but it's pretty big.

Speaking of local place names, I really ought to get a copy of the publication that your column is printed in, given that it's called the Burbank Leader, and the street I live on is called Burbank Avenue.

June Casagrande said...

Actually, "sugar" just might sound better in an Australian accent. I can imagine that at least one of the vowels might be more pronounced.

Marion Barry was a mayor of D.C. who was busted for crack cocaine -- I forget whether it was just using or buying or what. The fallout was interesting because there was speculation that a white mayor using powder cocaine wouldn't have gotten as much ongoing media attention and ridicule as a black mayor using crack.

Those reports of "This is the biggest shopping center on this half of the planet" are always frustrating. They gain traction precisely because they could be true. But you can't know they're true.

The Burbank Leader's sister paper is the Glendale News-Press, where, years ago, I used to fill in sometimes as a reporter. Everyone around there knows that Glendale has the largest Armenian population in the country. But when I went to confirm that for a story, I learned there's no formal documentation of that. No one ever counted. (That's why they couldn't even tell me whether "largest" meant highest percentage or highest number.)

California's Burbank is known as the "Entertainment Capital of the World." Really. Johnny Carson and/or Ed Macmahon said so. Just, once again, that's based on nothing solid and verified by no one.

Still, if you want to read about city council elections or school productions of "Stomp" taking place just 7,000 miles from your own front door, the Leader is for you.

I just looked up "Burbank." Says Luther Burbank was an American horticulturist and plant breeder. He's the only famous Burbank listed. I wonder your street's named after him as well. Or perhaps you guys had your own Burbank, perhaps a clerk working in the office that names streets.

Adrian Morgan said...

Here's a photograph of Burbank Avenue that I took a few years ago. (Both footpaths are paved now.)

What's the biggest giveaway that this photograph wasn't taken in California?

I could upload a recording of me saying "sugar" if you really want me to. Are there any other words you'd like to hear in Australian?

June Casagrande said...

Well, let's see. Unless there's a kangaroo hiding behind that trash can, I'd say the biggest tip off that this wasn't shot in California is that Britney is nowhere in sight. (That and an alarming shortage of cilantro.)

Seriously, though, it looks like a lovely place to live. I really like the trees.

Speaking of street names: I live a few blocks from Casa Grande Street. Talk about some confused mailmen.

Thanks for offering to record, but there's only one word I really want to hear spoken with an Australian accent. It's "welcome," followed perhaps by, "This way to the beach."

Someday ...

Adrian Morgan said...

Just for your interest, Wikipedia supports the "largest cinema complex" claim, e.g. (I happened to be looking for something completely different, but was reminded of this conversation in passing).

June Casagrande said...

Good old Wikipedia.

You inspired me to investigate a claim about my own home town (area). I had been told that Tampa, Fla., was home to the smallest park in the world: Snow Park.

According to a city site that cites Ripley's Believe It or Not, that's correct But further research casts serious doubt on that claim:

That was, in my view, the best thing that Tampa had going for it. And now that's shattered.

I guess I'll start telling people I'm from Miami, which can boast that it's home to the world's smallest quanity of basic manners and simple courtesy.

Adrian Morgan said...

I don't get this Snow Park thing.

This page highlights what it claims is Snow Park in yellow when you hover over it, but that highlighted area is much, much larger than the claimed 150 square feet, as you can see by comparing the highlighted area with the sizes of the cars shown in the aerial photograph. If it were really 150 square feet then you wouldn't even be able to fit two cars onto it (yes, I did look up car sizes), whereas according to the photograph you can fit lots.

150 square feet might be the size of just the central monument, but as for the whole park (with the 13 oak trees and all), probably most cities have parks smaller than that.

Oh, and I went to the cinema last night with family and a friend (this is related to why I was looking up info on the Marion cinemas in the first place). But if I tell you what we saw, this thread will go on for ever.

June Casagrande said...

Wow. You're thorough. I'm kind of lazy about details like that. But I did recall thinking that they were fudging their interpretation somehow. I mean, can't anyone claim that any monument in their park is a park unto itself and thus the world's smallest?

I hope that the movie you saw was "Up." But, as it might be too late for that, my best guess is that you got dragged to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. (Just kidding. Zombieland?)

Adrian Morgan said...

The Burbank Reserve, which is a short walk from here, is pretty small. Perhaps about the same size as the greater Snow Park.

Actually, my parents took us out to see _Mao's Last Dancer_, which wasn't at all bad. My parents are interested in Chinese things at the moment because they're planning to go on the Beijing to Moscow train in about a year from now.

June Casagrande said...

How cool. I'm very jealous of your parents' impending trip. Very jealous. I hope they have a great time.

We just got back from seeing Inglorious Basterds. Very entertaining.


Bookmark and Share