Sad Sam’s Slanguage Endures

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Sad Sam Ichinose

BY J. ARTHUR RATH III – Known as “Sad Sam Ichinose,” Hawaii’s most important boxing promoter during that sport’s “hay days,” was also a County Legislator, who ran a bar.


He’d use colorful local-style English when speaking in the Territorial Legislature, often scratching his nose to punctuate a phrase.  This made listeners guffaw.

Contemporary legislators continue with a patois of their own (dialect differing from standard language), this helps make the goings on from their seats of power seem colorful.

It’s part slang (informal, used by a particular group of people) and part language (use of words in a structural and conventional way).  The local daily paper recites what some of our leaders say to keep us all amused.

Here’s the absolute winner of the “bad grammar award”: the use of the adverb “hopefully” when what is meant is “I hope.”  (“Hopefully” is like a little kid with a grin scrambling under a Christmas Tree.)

In the runner-up spot is presented (and by purists resented) the use of nouns as verbs.  I don’t believe one “targets” something; he or she may aim at a target.  Must we go along with something “impacting” anything else; we feel the impact of this usage and it is very bad.

We should also resist the use “finalize,” “prioritize,” and “input,” among many other aberrations, as verbs; our “input” to this situation should be to give “priority to a final document which would make such usage an offense so the user had to sit in a corner.

I firmly believe there can be only two “alternatives” in any situation; if there are more, they become “choices.”

I doubt very much that “utilize” means anything different from “use.”  Does “quantify’ mean something different from “measure”?

We should reject use of the word “constantly” when what is meant is “continually.”  (Some of us might be happy to have a “constant” wife; a “continual” one is something else.)

Shudder at the use of the word “presently” when what is meant is “currently.”  The two words can mean the same thing, but “presently’ can also mean “when I am damned good and ready” whereas “currently” always means “now.”

I will zero in on my pet hate in the local buzzword category.  The use of the word “viable,” a technical term meaning capable of living; in a phrase such as “a viable option for a business” is pretension as best.

Rath may wax wroth from time to time, but I hope (not hopefully) that this waxing may shed some sheen on the political slanguage coming our way in Hawaii nei—in a funny way.

Sad Sam Ichinose used to scratch his nose so we’d recognize what he said was in jest.  I just don’t know about the contemporary crop—some of them seem so earnest when they make sounds.