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Monday, February 16, 2009


Well, I've been thinking. It's about time for "-gate" to break away from its dependence on a pre-word and become a word on its own, signifying an embarrassing Washington scandal, as in "It's just a matter of time before the Obama administration experiences its first gate." It may start with the hyphen attached and/or the quotation marks or just take the plunge and go naked among us so future linguaphiles can ask how a door becomes a scandal. Then it will have to move on to the next step of a "Washington-like" embarrassing scandal and finally settle into an undifferentiated synonym for scandal, at which time we'll need to start over and replace "gate" with a new powerful suffix, "window" perhaps, and start all over. Were Robert Gates to do something Rumsfeldesque, he could hurry this process on with a "Gatesgate."

That however isn't as big a verbal gate as the one I read on the cereal box this morning: "perfekfast," no doubt a contraction of "perfect breakfast." But cleaving that final word keeping only the last syllable turns "fast" into "meal." O the circus of wording.

Where is Calvino when you need him?

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