Friday, August 1, 2008

The Despiction Accolodes Award

I created the "Despiction Accolodes Award" in 2006 to dis-honor instances of conspicuous mangling of the English language. It was named for two verbal gaffes committed by Tom Seaver at the 2006 Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. Seaver was reading the text of the Ford Frick Award for broadcasting, given that year to Gene Elston. The text noted that Elston had received many accolades for his depiction of baseball action, but that isn't how it came out of Seaver's mouth. Errors on the pitcher making the presentation in front of thousands of spectators, but also a charmingly jarring phrase which seemed to me appropriate for other occasions when English has taken an inadvertant beating.

Only a couple of weeks after Seaver uttered those non-words, I announced the inaugural winner of the award, the John F. Turner Company, which produced the "2006 New York Yankees Day-by-Day Calendar." Like most sports-related calendars, this one included daily factoids and historical snippets, including this item: "In 1999, each Yankee wore a [sic] African American #5 armband in honor of Joe DiMaggio."


When contacted, the company representative explained that "African American #5" was not some obscure font, but rather the result of their computer editing program deeming the word "black" to be politically incorrect in these days of modern times, and therefore not fit for publication. The editing program routinely replaced the word "black" with "African American," regardless of content.

I have not found out the name of the company which produced that editing program, but they will get an award, too, when I do. Meanwhile, the award went to John F. Turner Company for not having the common sense to re-correct that ill-conceived "correction".

That was, quite obviously, an African American day for the English language, but it does put many other things--in and out of baseball--in a new perspective. Here are some other examples of how that editing program would be mis-applied:

1) At home games, New York Yankees wear white uniforms with African American pinstripes.

2) Until Pete Rose came along, the most disgraceful gambling-related episode in baseball history was the so-called "African American Sox" scandal involving the fixed 1919 World Series.

3) The 1952 National League Rookie of the Year was Joe African American, who by sheer coincidence was African American.

4) Elizabeth Taylor had her first starring role in "African American Beauty."

5) The HUAC hearings of Joseph McCarthy resulted in ten prominent Hollywood figures being African American listed.

6) Ozzy Osbourne is the lead singer of African American Sabbath.

7) The most disastrous day in stock market history was October 29, 1929, known forever as "African American Tuesday."

8) Aspiring fraternity brothers hope and pray that they won't be African American balled.

9) I have several correspondents who regularly contact me using their African American Berrys.

10) Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith co-starred in "Men in African American."

11) The fourth-longest tenure in Supreme Court history (1937-1971) was that of Justice Hugo African American.

12) After his fight with Muhammad Ali, George Chuvalo had African American-and-blue marks all over his face.

13) There are regions all over the vast universe in which entire galaxies have vanished into African American holes.

14) In the movie "Bus Stop," Marilyn Monroe sang a scintillating version of "That Old African American Magic."

15) Kudos to the MIT students who were able to beat the Las Vegas casinos at African American jack.

16) Thank Paul McCartney for that haunting lyric, "African American bird singing in the dead of night."

17) One of the most notorious pirates was Edward Teach, better known as "African American Beard."

18) If you have a problem with African American heads, go to a pharmacy and get some ointment.

19) Beware of the venom of the African American widow (spider).

20) When an airplane crashes, the first thing investigators look for is the African American box.

21) [From George Steedle] "I'm old-fashioned, I still watch African American and white television."

Suggestions for additions to this list are welcome, as are nominations for future winners of the "Despiction Accolodes Award."


DCJ said...

This should be nominated. A Christian newspaper has a similar editing program that turns every instance of the word "gay" into "homosexual." That turned out badly when Tyson Gay set the world record in the 100-meter dash heading into the Olympics, as we were given sentences like this:

"Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.

His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn't count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here's what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games team and served notice he's certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

'It means a lot to me,' the 25-year-old Homosexual said. 'I'm glad my body could do it, because now I know I have it in me.'"

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