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An open letter to Debora Iyall:
 

Dear Debora,

Thanks for writing the immortal lyrics to A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing)

This Thank-You is long overdue. I should have written it back in 1984, but your (Romeo Void's) lawyer was screwing my husband at the time and I guess I forgot to mentally separate the two issues. That was a long time ago and I had the pleasure of telling the lawyer involved when she telephoned my home that she was just a "voice on the phone" to me. I also dispatched that husband shortly thereafter, so if your lawyer is reading this, No Hard Feelings.

Back to the real point, Debora you are a true artist and I have to tell you that I think your lyrics to A Girl In Trouble are truly Brilliant. They've helped me keep my wig on straight on more than one occasion, during more than one difficult patch.  Now 28 years later, I caught myself quoting two lines from that song to my 34 year old daughter. As apropos today as in 1984.

A Girl in Trouble (is a temporary thing) Iyall/Woods/Zincavage

She's got a face that shows that she knows she's heard every line
Tenderly she talks on the phone
There's a way to walk that says, "Stay away"
And a time to go 'round the long way


A Girl in Trouble is a temporary thing, temporary temporary, temporary, temporary
A Girl in Trouble is a temporary thing, temporary temporary, temporary, temporary

There's a time when every girl learns to use her head
Tears will be saved 'til they're better spent
There's not time for her to be afraid, so instead
She takes care of business keeps a cool head

A Girl in Trouble is a temporary thing, temporary temporary, temporary, temporary
A Girl in Trouble is a temporary thing, temporary temporary, temporary, temporary

She's on the mend and knows that she's earned the scars and the lines
By and by - one step at a time
Her love can dazzle and delight - she transcends
And has more riches than she can spend

A Girl in Trouble is a temporary thing, temporary temporary, temporary, temporary
A Girl in Trouble is a temporary thing, temporary temporary, temporary, temporary
A Girl in Trouble is a temporary thing

 

Credit where Credit is due:   http://www.deboraiyall.com/blog.html/a_girl_in_trouble_is_a_temporary_thing/

 

Thanks for your Insights Deborah,

Dwayna Wisdom

 

 

Women's Ink: Brush With Greatness:

From the New York Times Magazine, William Safire column "On Language" February 6, 2000

We wrote to Bill Safire suggesting some new Social Security Card Designs based on the common  mispronunciations of the term Social Security. He was kind enough to give us a mention in his column.

...A special target for the squirrels of squeeze has been Social Security. This generation, promised six full syllables with no cutbacks, was willing to accept "Soshasecurity." But what of the candidates who promise the salvation of "Sosh-security" or preserving untouched the indexed benefits of "Sosa-CURE-ity"? Dwayna M. Wisdom of Union City, N.J., notes other variations from "SoSecurity" to "Soshacurity."

I just about had a cow. I was so thrilled to get this tip of the hat from the great man himself.
Here's the link to the column in question:
http://www.nytimes.com/library/magazine/home/20000206mag-onlanguage.html

 

ON LANGUAGE BY WILLIAM SAFIRE
squeezewords

Cramming it together as the wave of the Future.

Rush Limbaugh, the radio philosopher, was appalled. Thousands of his listeners were sending in messages protesting the increased number of commercials on his program. Because he was talking the same amount of time every day, and the show ran the same three hours, how could this be?

Then a surreptitious form of editing was revealed to him. "A new kind of digital technology," wrote Alex Kuczynski in The New York Times, "was literally snipping out the silent pockets between words, shortening the pauses and generally speeding up the pace of Mr. Limbaugh's speech." The irate commentator stormed, "I think it is potential doom for the radio industry." Since then, he tells me: "I have amended that. They will reduce the pauses judiciously, no more than a minute and a half per hour. I want to see if the nuances are affected -- after all, a pause can be pregnant."

Decades ago I did something similar to Humphrey Bogart. He had a habit, as do many of us, of punctuating his ad-lib phrases with "uh." (This has since been replaced with "I mean" and "y'know," which serve the same function of demonstrating a presence while not saying anything.) When Bogie had a couple of drinks, the uh's came thick and fast. In the 50's, after taping an interview with him for the Armed Forces Network, I did him a favor and laboriously snipped all those stammering self-interruptions out of the tape. When our talk was broadcast, he was surprised at how articulate he sounded.

In most cases, I would do the same today as a courtesy to interviewee and listener. I'll even clean up a grammatical error when taking notes for a written interview, thereby preserving a source and avoiding [sic-sic-sic] wiseguyism. But secret snipping for commercial gain is another kettle of fishiness. Not only is it sneaky, but the silent squeeze also weakens discourse by removing dramatic pauses.

A related danger is not a result of nefarious squeezing by money-grubbing timesavers, but of the hurried laziness of speakers. Let's not be stiffs about this: in pronunciation, the English language has always tended toward contraction. Old-timers cannot recall ever having heard business, colonel or Wednesday pronounced with three syllables. Chocolate, which geezers recall as CHOCK-a-lit, has become CHAW-klit; its central syllable melted away in our mouths. In a 1949 article in The New Yorker (now The Nyawka), John Davenport commented on "Slurvian," the language of what linguists call syncope (SING-kuh-pee). In this laid-back lingo, syrup becomes surp, Americans Merkins, and "no, Ma'am" gnome. His forn, for "foreign," was picked up by the Central Intelligence Agency, and now "no foreign distribution" is stamped NOFORN.

In our time, such speeding up must not go unremarked. In today's compulsive compression, other majestic and sonorous words are losing their central syllables. In "The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations" (Houghton Mifflin, 1999, $15), Charles Harrington Elster argues that "syncopated pronunciations tend to improve the fluidity of speech" and cites VEJ-tuh-bul for vegetable, FAM-lee for family and DY-pur for diaper. (Only babies say "change my DI-a-per.")

This has not taken place in a vacuum. (That word was once pronounced VAK-u-um, but our natures abhorred it, and it's now VAK-yoom.) However, Elster still cites as objectionable to cultivated speakers such squeezings as AK-rit for accurate, YOO-zhul for usual, claps for collapse and VUR-bij for verbiage. (I would add an ASS-ter-ik.) He takes a pop at me for countenancing an r-less TEM-puh-chur, and he's right: from now on, I'll take my "TEM-pra-chur."

In this political season, two locutions have come under the sustained pressure of the squeezers. One is President, the three-syllabled office much coveted by campaigning candidates. I never minded Lyndon Johnson's Southern pronunciation of the last syllable in his warm "I am yo' Presidint"; that is a legitimate dialect variation. However, the near-universal adoption of Prezdent seems to me to diminish the office.

A special target for the squirrels of squeeze has been Social Security. This generation, promised six full syllables with no cutbacks, was willing to accept "Soshasecurity." But what of the candidates who promise the salvation of "Sosh-security" or preserving untouched the indexed benefits of "Sosa-CURE-ity"? Dwayna M. Wisdom of Union City, N.J., notes other variations from "SoSecurity" to "Soshacurity."

How can anyone pledge expanded benefits to a contracted program? Cock a wary ear to the way the candidates squeeze this revered phrase in coming debates. Then cast your vote for Prezdent.

 

DON'T PRESUME

Asked by one of his fellow candidates if he would commit to choose a pro-life running mate, George W. Bush replied, "I think it's incredibly presumptive for someone who has yet to earn his party's nomination to be picking vice presidents."

The cable commentator Laura Ingraham promptly picked up the error, pointing out that the word Governor Bush had in mind was presumptuous.

It's a fairly common error, with both words based on the verb presume, from the Latin praesumere, "to take in advance." That would now be put as "to take for granted," as in "Dr. Livingstone, I presume." (If less certain, the newsman Henry Stanley would have used assume, "to suppose." How did I get in darkest Africa?)

Presumptive means "probable," based on a reasonable assumption, as in "Bush and Gore have been, for a year, the presumptive standard-bearers." The meaning of presumptuous departs sharply from that, to "arrogant, assuming the unwarranted" -- the presuming in that formulation to be unreasonable, not to mention uppity and pushy.

Few suffixes split the meaning so drastically from the root word. A subtler difference was examined some years ago, when a State Department spokesman denounced as contemptible an article of mine sneering at some feckless action of the then-Secretary. An alert reporter followed up with "Don't you mean contemptuous?" To which the quick-thinking diplomat replied, "That, too."

February 06, 2000

 

 

Women's Ink.org was a website that I created and published on a free site  called XOOM in 1998. Unfortunately just when that website got big enough and deep enough to be any good, Lycos bought them out and never would answer any of my questions nor would they help me recover what was lost. After all it was a free website, what did I expect? I have even tried the Wayback machine looking for any remnants of the many hours work poured into it. Well I guess I've mourned it's loss long enough, because I have decided to revive some of the content from that site including the following features:

Ink Stained Kvetch
Hai Ku News
Women's Ink Hall of Fame: Outstanding Women of Journalism
Women's Ink: Favorite Authors
Women's Ink History tells us Her Story:

Look for these features and more in the days to come.