The Corner

Impromptus

Mailing It In

I begin today’s Impromptus with a reflection on economic prosperity, versus its opposite. This little reflection was occasioned by last Monday’s date: October 29. I also try to answer a commenter’s question: “Why should we care?” He was talking about the Khashoggi murder. Then there are notes about nationalism, patriotism, music, language, sports, etc.

I would like to publish a little reader mail — the first concerning Denis Mukwege, who is a co-winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. (I wrote about him here.)

About eight years ago, I was able to provide some small assistance to Dr. Mukwege in my professional capacity. I was overwhelmed by the greatness of the man, and when I went home that evening I told my wife I had met a pure Christ-like soul, as courageous and humble a man as I had ever met, and one who deserved to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Along with you, I rejoice at the committee’s selection of him.

In an Impromptus earlier this week, I had a language note, specifically concerning silent L’s — as in (for some of us) “wolf,” “folk,” and “golf.” A reader writes,

The dropped L in certain other words is the dead giveaway to a Cincinnati accent. My wife is from Cincinnati, and thus “told” becomes “tode,” “cold” becomes “code,” and even “shoulder” ends up sounding like “shoder.”

So, if you’re mad at someone, you give him the code shoder.

Curiously, the L reappears in “aw” words, when “saw” becomes “sawl,” “draw” becomes “drawl,” etc. I find it endlessly amusing — I love any and all accents, dialects, and colloquialisms — much to my in-laws’ chagrin. The door swings both ways as my guttural abrasive Chicago accent is a subject of ridicule when I get down to Queen City.

Finally, I had a column a month ago in which I noted a mayoral election in Peru: which pitted a man named Hitler against a man named Lennin. A reader writes,

Nearly three decades ago, I held in my hand the Brazilian passport of a man whose first name was Hitler and whose middle name was Stalin, and whose name I had to announce over a loudspeaker. Weird and unusual names are very common in Brazil, but this one takes the cake.

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