February 29, 2008

It's the linguists again

Breaking news from the Onion: "Idiom Shortage Leaves Nation All Sewed Up In Horse Pies", 2/29/2008.

WASHINGTON—A crippling idiom shortage that has left millions of Americans struggling to express themselves spread like tugboat hens throughout the U.S. mainland Tuesday in an unparalleled lingual crisis that now has the entire country six winks short of an icicle.

Amidst all this linguistic chaos, the Onion's reporter seems to have blended her interviews with Adam Albright and Howard Lasnik:

"This is an absolute oyster carnival," said Harvard University linguistics professor Dr. Howard Albright, who noted that the 2008 idiom shortage has been the country's worst. "I don't know any other way to describe it."

Albright said that citizens in the South and West have been hit by the dearth of idioms like babies bite the bedpost, with people in those colorful expression-heavy regions unable to speak about anything related to rain storms, misers, sensations associated with nervousness, difficult or ironic predicaments, surprise at a younger relative's rapid increase in height, or love. In some areas, what few idioms remain are being bartered or sold at exorbitant prices. And, Albright claims, unless something is done before long to dry out the cinnamon jars, residents of Texas may soon cease speaking altogether.

[Hat tip: Jay Ashworth]

Posted by Mark Liberman at February 29, 2008 05:33 AM