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Archive for the ‘Anti-poeticness’ Category

Another week, another word-hating punch-up. Today, it’s “spud” that gets soil kicked in its eye by anti-vegetable activist Frank I Swannack. Frank probably does like vegetables, really. In any case, he really likes English Renaissance literature, which he writes about here.

Worst Word – by Frank I Swannack

There’s no need to shamefully quote spud out of context for cheap laughs, or mash its multiple definitions to a meaningless and tasteless, albeit fluffy, pulp. It’s just bloody awful.

I apologise in advance if you know someone whose child or beloved Poodle is nicknamed Spud. I also realise that some people find poetaetoe tricky to spell, so spud provides a less embarrassing alternative for those all-important office emails. But let’s not kid ourselves here: the word is, in a word, an obstinate skidmark on our vegetable souls. I’m not sure what that last sentence means, but the philosophical phraseology illustrates my other beef with spud – it doesn’t exactly endear itself to poetic language.

I truly appreciate how spud humbles the righteous King Edward – come to think of it, what was the herbalist John Gerard thinking when he wrote the first description of the potato in English in The Herball Or Generall Historie Of Plantes in 1597? Having mistakenly thought that the bogstandard potato was American, he named it “the Virginian potato”, thus committing the ill-shaped monstrosity to a semantic madhouse that started a confusion with the red sweet potato, which he simply called “potato”.

Unfortunately, even with all the digressions in the world, there’s still no escaping the sad fact that even as a noun, spud sounds and looks ridiculous. Be honest, when was the last time you said it, wrote it, peeled one?

This little test should finally convince you – say spud out loud in the office without attracting incomprehensible looks from harassed work colleagues. Then repeat it nose-to-nose in front of their ruddy faces. Comprendez? – even the Spanish are not entirely innocent concerning the Solanum tuberosum’s linguistic history, try Tweeting “patata” after a few glasses of plonk. I think you’ll agree that the word, noun, verb, unpleasant brown stain, whatever you want to call it, single-handedly debases a sophisticated mode of communication into Neanderthal mono-rhythmic nonsense. Spud-U-Like, anyone?

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