10/14 amos

Editor’s note: In response to a reader’s request, Amos has asked that we reprint a favorite “wordy” column. Amos is a churchmouse, unable to use the keyboard shift keys and unschooled in the art of punctuation.

amos plays word games

boss while i was rummaging
through some old — really
old — newspaper clips
the other day i found
an interesting article
from the first of
february in 1912

it was from the clovis
evening journal and the
article was headlined -
puzzling -

here s the way the story
went boss -

a duel recently fought was
described in the following
curious manner

it was fought between
alexander shott and
john s nott

nott was shot and shott
was not

there was a rumor flying
about to the effect that
nott was not shot yet shott
avows that he shot nott
which proves either that
the shot at nott was not shot
or that nott was shot
notwithstanding

circumstantial evidence
being not always reliable
it may appear on trial that
the shot shott shot — comma
here boss — shot nott
or as accidents with firearms
are not infrequent it may be
that the shot shott shot -
comma here boss — shot
shott himself

if so shott would be shot
and nott would be not

taking the matter all
around — the newspaper
writer said — one is puzzled
to know who was shot and
who was not

boss i m not sure what the
moral of this story is —
whether it s that parents
need to be careful how they
name their children or that
people need to be careful
not to shoot other people
with silly names or that
silly journalists need to
stop playing weird word
games

journalists in a more modern
era have also played on words -
at times not so deliberately -
such as a headline in 1995
that read — jones amendment
would give state fish voting
rights -

or how about the 1995 los
angeles times headline that
stated — hillary clinton on
welfare -

or the 1995 chicago tribune
headline that proclaimed -
chemotherapy fears increase
after death -

then of course there is that
famous wordsmith of baseball
fame — yogi berra — who once
was reported as saying —
the future ain t what it
used to be —

i m not sure boss but i
suspect he may be right

he and several others i
have known through the
course of my mousy
writing career
certainly have a way
with words

in light of that boss
i m reminded that the
bible seems to indicate
that how we handle our
way with words can also
affect our way of life

may it ever be for the
better boss

amos