Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fatal Exclamations

Why is it (in the old comic books -- Korean War vintage, for example) that cowboys and American soldiers died with simple sounds like "Uh!", "Ugh," and "Gaa," while the Indians and Japs died in diphthongs ("Aiee!")? [A diphthong is not a kind of thong. It's a complex sound made by sliding from one vowel to another -- a sort of vowel movement?]

And how come the bad guys are so formal ("Capitalist dogs!"), while the good guys are so slangy and nonchalant ("Commie pigs!")?

The bad guys seem to take getting killed very seriously, laughing only to gloat, just before a wounded hero they left for dead gets off one last shot and one last wise crack as the villain
rediscovers seriousness briefly.

And why do we feel better about killing people after giving them the sorts of affectionate nicknames (Jap, Nip, Charlie, gook) one might give to a child or a pet monkey?

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