Stream of consciousness blather

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Lately I’ve been trying to explain to my friends who don’t know Chinese what fèihuà 废话 means.  Basically it is composed of the two morphemes “waste / useless / abandoned / ruined / maimed” and “talk”, i.e., “nonsense”.  To give a sense of its implications, here is a longer list of English definitions:  nonsense, rubbish, garbage, bullshit, bunkum, buncombe, claptrap, blah, stuff, bunk, trash, guff, twaddle, tripe, bull, poppycock, inanity, piffle, yap, absurdity, empty talk, balderdash, yackety-yak, yak, yack, tootle, blab, haver, codswallop, prattle, gab, blabber, fiddlestick, fiddle-faddle, overtalk, babble, blather.

Fèihuà has become an important term in contemporary Chinese discourse for several reasons.  The main reason for the centrality of fèihuà in current critiques of language usage is that the pronouncements of Chinese politicians and officials are perceived by large segments of the population as consisting almost entirely of this species of speech.  This has resulted in two literary manifestations that satirize this type of vain, pompous posturing.

The most recent genre to hit the cultural scene is what is known as fèihuàshī 废话诗 (“nonsense poetry”).  The hottest exponent of this genre is a poet called Wūqīng 烏青. Here’s an example of his verse:


“Yī zhǒng lí”

Wǒ chīle yī zhǒng lí

Ránhòu zài chāoshì lǐ kàn dào zhè zhǒng lí

Wǒ kànjiàn tā jiù xiǎng shuō

Zhè zhǒng lí hěn hǎo chī

Guòle jǐ tiān

Chāoshì lǐ de zhè zhǒng lí dǎzhéle

Wǒ yòu kànjiàn tā, wǒ xiǎng shuō

Zhè zhǒng lí hěn piányi

《一种梨》

我吃了一种梨

然后在超市里看到这种梨

我看见它就想说

这种梨很好吃

过了几天

超市里的这种梨打折了

我又看见它,我想说

这种梨很便宜

“A Kind of Pear”

I ate a kind of pear

Later I saw this kind of pear in a supermarket

When I saw it, what I thought of saying is that

This kind of pear is really delicious

After a few days

This kind of pear was on sale in the supermarket

Seeing it once more, what I thought of saying is that

This kind of pear is really cheap.

China’s netizens have enthusiastically joined in by adapting and parodying Wuqing’s verse.  But the visceral disenchantment with fèihuà had already begun over two decades ago with the “hooligan” author Wáng Shuò.

Wáng Shuò mercilessly satirized the Party fèihuà bullshit in his Qiānwàn bié bǎ wǒ dāng rén 千万别把我当人 (Please Don’t Call Me Human [1989]) — here is a scene in which a neighborhood committee official, overwhelmed by the august Party official visiting the main character’s humble hutong (alley), delivers an insane stream-of-consciousness speech consisting almost entirely of the cliches of Party hackery (as usual, I present pinyin transcription, Chinese characters, and English rendering; this was done very quickly, so I cannot vouch for all of the tones, orthography, and translation, but I hope that at least it gives an idea of what the Chinese is like):

Jìng’ài de yīngmíng de qīn’ài de dǎoshī lǐngxiù duòshǒu yǐnlù rén xiānqū zhě shèjì shī míngdēng huǒjù zhàoyāojìng dǎ gǒu gùn diē mā yéye nǎinai lǎo zǔ lǎo yuánhóu tài shàng lǎo jūn yùhuángdàdì guānyīn púsà zǒng sīlìng, nín rìlǐwànjī qiān xīn wàn kǔ jīzhòngnánfǎn jīláo chéng jí jīxí Chéng pǐ jiān tiāo zhòngdàn téngyúnjiàwù tiānmǎxíngkōng fú wēi jìpín kuāngfú zhèngyì qù è chú xié qū fēngshī qū xū hán zhuàng yáng bǔ shèn bǔ nǎo bǔtǐ yǎng gān diào wèi jiě tòng zhèn ké tōng dàbiàn bǎi máng, què hái qīnshēn qīnzì qīnlín lìlín jiànglín guānglín shìchá guānchá jiūchá jiǎnchá xúnchá tànchá zhēnchá cháfǎng fǎngwèn xúnwèn wèiwèn wǒmen hútòng, zhè shì duì wǒmen de jùdà guānhuái jùdà gǔwǔ jùdà biāncè jùdà ānwèi jùdà xìnrèn jùdà tǐtiē jùdà táijǔ. Wǒmen zhèxiē xiǎo mín cǎomín jiànmín ér zǐ sūnzi xiǎo cǎo xiǎo gǒu xiǎo māo qúnméng yú zhòng dàzhòng bǎixìng gǎndào shífēn xìngfú shífēn jīdòng shífēn bù’ān shífēn cánkuì shífēn kuàilè shífēn quèyuè shífēn shòuchǒngruòjīng shífēn gǎn’ēn bù jìn shífēn rèlèi yíng kuàng shífēn xīncháo péngpài shífēn bùzhī shuō shénme hǎo, qiānyán wàn yǔ qiāngē wàn qū qiān shān wàn shuǐ qiān shēn wàn yín qiān dū wàn nóng qiān cí wànzì dōu huì chéng yījù xiǎngchèyúnxiāo shēngsīlìjié shēng zhèn huányǔ rào liáng sān rì zhènlóngfākuì jīngtiāndòngdì yuè’ěr dòngtīng měimiào wúbǐ lìng rén xīnzuì lìng rén chénzuì lìng rén sān rì bùzhī ròu wèi de shídài de zuì qiáng yīn: Wànsuì wànsuì wànwànsuì wànsuì wàn suì wànwàn suì!

敬爱的英明的亲爱的导师领袖舵手引路人先驱者设计师明灯火炬照妖镜打狗棍爹妈爷爷奶奶老祖老猿猴太上老君玉皇大帝观音菩萨总司令,您日理万机千辛万苦积重 难返积劳成疾积习成癖肩挑重担腾云驾雾天马行空扶危济贫匡扶正义去恶除邪祛风湿祛虚寒壮阳补肾补脑补体养肝调胃解痛镇咳通大便百忙,却还亲身亲自亲临莅临 降临光临视察观察纠察检察巡察探察侦察查访访问询问慰问我们胡同,这是对我们的巨大关怀巨大鼓舞巨大鞭策巨大安慰巨大信任巨大体贴巨大抬举。我们这些小民 草民贱民儿子孙子小草小狗小猫群氓愚众大众百姓感到十分幸福十分激动十分不安十分惭愧十分快乐十分雀跃十分受宠若惊十分感恩不尽十分热泪盈眶十分心潮澎湃 十分不知说什么好,千言万语千歌万曲千山万水千呻万吟千嘟万哝千词万字都汇成一句响彻云霄声嘶力竭声震环宇绕梁三日振聋发聩惊天动地悦耳动听美妙无比令人 心醉令人沉醉令人三日不知肉味的时代的最强音:万岁万岁万万岁万岁万岁万万岁!

Revered beloved eminent wise dear mentor teacher leader helmsman guide pioneer designer bright torch shining on vampires stick-to-beat-dogs daddymommy gramp-gram old-ancestor  old-ape-monkey great high venerable lord Jade Emperor great king Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara commander in chief,  you daily order ten thousand affairs ten thousand hardships ten thousand pains accumulating heavy difficulties accumulating exertions producing illness accumulating habit producing obsession with duty shoulder bearing heavy burdens bounding-over-clouds-steering-mists heavenly-horse-coursing-through-space supporting the weak succoring the poor righting rightness bolstering justice eliminating evil eradicating deviance expelling wind-wet expelling weakness-cold fortifying the yang strengthening the kidney fortifying the brain repairing the body nurturing the liver adjusting the stomach dissolving pain suppressing cough unblocking bowel movement busy with a hundred things, extending great concern  great encouragement  great spur and whip great comfort great faith and trust great solicitude great regard.  We these little folk like grass humble folk sons grandsons little grasses little dogs little cats hoi polloi stupid masses multitude citizens feel quite blessed quite moved quite discomforted quite undeserving quite happy quite like sparrows hopping with joy quite beside ourselves with attention quite endlessly thankful quite eyes filled with tears quite heart welling with emotion quite not knowing what to say, a thousand words ten thousand expressions a thousand songs ten thousand melodies a thousand mountains ten thousand rivers a thousand groans ten thousand sighs a thousand mutterings ten thousand grumblings a thousand phrases ten thousand words all gathered into one resounding through the clouds and mists voice crying strength exhausted voice thundering round the universe circling the beams three days stunning the deaf rousing the unhearing startling heaven shaking earth beautiful marvelous without compare intoxicating the mind three days insensible to the taste of meat the loudest sound of the age: may you long live long live long long live long live long live long long live !

(With thanks to Brendan O’Kane and Julie Wei)



32 Comments

  1. MsH said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 5:31 am

    Is fèihuà the same thing as bullshit, as discussed in Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit”? Is it a characteristic of fèihuà that the speaker is totally unconcerned with the truth-value, if any, of what they are saying, but is saying it just as a posture?

  2. Keith said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 8:18 am

    @MsH

    Or is fèihuà more like “shooting the breeze” (AmE), idle chit chat about unimportant things, or like “talking cock” (Singlish), talking idle nonsense.

    For me, bullshit carries connotations of somebody either deliberately trying to deceive, or trying to appear knowledgeable while spouting nonsense or untruth.

    K.

  3. languagehat said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 8:31 am

    This is what Alexei Yurchak calls “authoritative language” in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton UP, 2006); it was parodied by Soviet writers from Bulgakov to Sorokin. Yurchak makes an interesting point about how it was used by ordinary people (p. 75):

    After the 1950s, with the disappearance of the “external” voice that provided metadiscussions and evaluations of that language, the language structures became increasingly normalized, cumbersome, citational, and circular. That language became what I termed hypernormalized. This development was an unintended result of the attempts by great numbers of people who were engaged in producing texts in authoritative language to minimize the presence of their own authorial voice….

    Linguistic, narrative, and rhetorical structures were not read by most Soviet people at face value, as constative descriptions of the world (either true or false). In fact, the constative dimension of this language became open and unpredictable, and authoritative language acquired a powerful performative function. Replicating its textual forms, linguistic constructions, making speeches and compiling reports in it, participating in acts of voting, and so on had the important effect of enabling new meanings and descriptions of reality and forms of life that were neither limited to nor completely determined by those provided by the constative descriptions in authoritative language.

    Now that (as I gather) nobody in China believes in Marxism-Leninism any more, and thus nobody takes official discourse at face value, I presume the same sort of thing is going on there.

  4. rgove said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    This kind of pear was on sale in the supermarket

    I don’t know this is VM’s translation, but surely this wording leads the reader to completely miss the point that it was on sale at reduced price.

  5. Dan Lufkin said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 8:37 am

    And am I the only one who has the impression that the same thing is going on here?

  6. AB said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 8:41 am

    In my American English, “on sale” means the price is reduced, while “for sale” implies nothing about the price.

  7. Cameron Majidi said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 8:45 am

    In Noel Malcolm’s book “The Origins of English Nonsense” he traces the first flowering of nonsense poetry in the early 17th century to gatherings at which law clerks gave orations mocking the ornate speaking and writing styles associated with the Court of Chancery.

  8. Observation said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 8:51 am

    Zhè zhǒng lí hěn hào chī

    I think it should be zhè zhǒng lí hěn hǎo chī. Hào means ‘to like’, as in 好吃懶做. If the pear hào chī, it likes eating.

    I loved this article because the poems were hilarious (in a bad way). Thanks for the chuckle.

    VHM: Of course. Thanks. Fixed now. The tone marks on my computer screen are so tiny and faint that I really couldn’t see it that clearly.

  9. Ellen K. said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    I recall reading somewhere about “on sale” being a difference between British and American English. For American readers, it’s clear that the the pears were being offered were at a reduced price in the second part of the poem.

  10. David L said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 9:30 am

    Is the American version of this kind of blather to be found in business-speak? Some years ago I was, to my chagrin, briefly involved in the management side of running a magazine. I heard more than enough about synergistic visions, upgrading skill-sets, metricizing the flow of deliverables, etc etc.

    The “is it bullshit” question depends on whether you think the people spouting all this stuff actually believe what they are saying, or have just learned to keep a straight face while saying it. After some months of exposure, I came to the conclusion, alas, that they believed it.

  11. Toma said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 9:50 am

    There are many ways to say a lot without saying anything:
    from Shakespeare in Antony and Cleopatra:
    Lepidus: What manner o’ thing is your crocodile??
    Antony: It is shap’d, sir, like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth; it is just as high as it is, and moves with its own organs. It lives by that which nourisheth it, and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates.
    Lepidus: What colour is it of?
    Antony: Of its own colour too.
    Lepidus: ‘Tis a strange serpent.
    Antony: ‘Tis so. And the tears of it are wet.

  12. Roy S said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    It’s been my observation that this kind of business-speak is a learned behavior. Newly-minted managers here seem to copy the verbal style of their superiors in an attempt to demonstrate competence before they’ve actually done anything.

    Our prior site director was a master of the form. A small cadre of seditious souls used to take notes during our monthly communications meetings for the sole purpose of bagging fresh examples of such verbal excrement. Some of our more entertaining specimens:

    “upside growth potential”
    “alignment with our growth objectives”
    “positive implications for our scrap portfolio” (I think this means making less junk)
    “strategic pillars”
    transition (as a verb)
    task (as a verb)
    pilot (as a verb)
    leverage (as a verb)

    Following these meetings, we’d entertain one another with emails filled with as many of our new-found gems as we could cram in. Sadly, he was transitioned into an unrelated corporate franchise, and is no longer leveraging his competencies as one of our talent assets.

  13. joanne salton said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 10:30 am

    You would perhaps expect the demise of hard-line communism to reduce this kind of language in China.

    However, perhaps the mixing in of western business-think and the subtracting of the traditional moral crusading side of left-wing thought has created a species of gibberish which is worse than ever?

  14. Bob said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    –partly sunny with a chance of rain….– 66.5839% of weather forecasts are FEIHUA too

  15. leoboiko said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    Prof. Mair: Why not getting a friend who’s both computer-savvy and into typography to improve that for you? I think that, given your interests, it seems fairly important to have clear, visible pīnyīn tone marks on your computer.

  16. bert scruggs said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    i think that the ability to throw around the fèihuà that wang shuo does has come to be recognized as symptomatic of fiction penned by the red aristocracy, the children of officials and intellectuals who have a natural knack for stringing together such streams of consciousness. ma jian’s fiction at times offers games and markers with slogans from the past as well. what did surprise me with victor’s excerpt from wang’s _please don’t call me human_ were the traditional/classical canon riffs, e.g. the taste of meat over three days. one wonders when a diǎngù stops being an allusion and merely serves as a tiǎo? ge? kuaì? feìhuà.

    and, leoboiko is correct, tone markers should be visible. i hope that someone in williams hall will be able to help you with it soon. (i noticed the other day that there were tone markers in the subtitles for _contagion_. but diacritical tone markers in closed captioning is a topic for another day.)

  17. Craig said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

    @Ellen K. Count me as one American English speaker who didn’t catch the they were at the supermarket and on sale. Without mention of another supermarket where they weren’t on sale, or the lack of verbal emphasis or syntactical emphasis, on sale for me defaults to for sale.

  18. q said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    From what I was taught (Taiwanese-American), feihua doesn’t necessarily mean bullshit or nonsense. Often times, it means “gratuitous” or “unnecessary.” I feel like it has the same connotation of criticizing a smartass.

  19. marie-lucie said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    I guess that Craig does not go shopping very often.

    In Canada too, “on sale” means ‘at a special reduced price’, usually for a week or so. All stores are in the business of selling stuff, so they always have things “for sale”, but when they advertise “sales” they mean that some specified items will temporarily sell for less. They usually have rotating sales, every week on different items, plus larger-scale “sales” around special times of the year, notoriously during the holiday season. In fact, large stores have so many “sales” that if you don’t need an item right away, you can usually get it at a reduced price if you watch for the next time this item is offered “on sale”. Of course, it means that the “regular prices” must be inflated to compensate for the constant “sales”. This happens with internet shopping too!

  20. Bob said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

    re: q
    From what I was taught (Taiwanese-American), feihua doesn’t necessarily mean bullshit or nonsense. Often times, it means “gratuitous” or “unnecessary.” I feel like it has the same connotation of criticizing a smartass.
    –you are referring to FEIHUA as ”don’t mention it”… it is used at a very different manner as what Prof, Mair states here.

  21. Michael said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    I have to agree with Craig and rgove. “On sale” often does mean for a reduced price, but it can also just mean “for sale.” I missed that too when initially reading it.

    In support of this, Merriam-Webster’s online version indicates that “on sale” can have both meanings.

  22. Victor Mair said,

    April 5, 2012 @ 12:41 am

    To the list of English approximations of fèihuà, Nick Kaldis adds “gobbledygook” and “hokum”.

    And Matthew Sommer reminds me that pìhuà 屁话 (“fart talk”) is a closer Chinese approximation to English “bullshit” than is fèihuà.

  23. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 5, 2012 @ 10:42 am

    How about “bloviation”?

  24. julie lee said,

    April 5, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    What about gou2shi3 狗屎 (literally “dogshit”) which means “bullshit”, “rubbish, garbage (referring to bullshit)” and fang4pi4 放屁 “farting; wind; gas” “blather, twaddle”?
    Fang4pi4 “farting, to fart” is given as a synonym for FEIHUA “blather” in the Hanyu Dacidian dictionary, V-411a.
    “Wind”, “gas,” “hot air” might also be added to Victor Mair’s list of English words for blather.
    They would describe a lot of officialese– official jargon or official spiel—in China, as in the U.S.—which is spoofed in the speech by Wang Shuo’s fictional official.

    (2, 3, 4 above denote 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tones, as I’m not getting the tone marks on my e-mail)

  25. julie lee said,

    April 5, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

    p.s. to my previous comment:

    The definition of FANGPI 放屁 “farting; to fart” as meaning FEIHUA “blather” in the HANYU DACIDIAN (Vol. V-411a) comes at the end of definition 2 of FEIHUA in the words:
    “(放屁) 亦比喻說廢話“ ”(FANGPI, to fart) is also a figurative way of saying to blather”.

  26. Bob Ladd said,

    April 6, 2012 @ 7:03 am

    It sounds to me like fèihuà is similar to what the Italians call aria fritta (‘fried air’). That has connotations of overblown pomposity that to me are lacking in bullshit but seem to me (from the discussion above and the examples) are an important part of fèihuà.

  27. julie lee said,

    April 6, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    p.p.s. –correction (of my previous comment):

    I meant to say “at the end of definition 2 of FANGPI (to fart)”. It’s easy to miss in the HYDC dictionary because it comes at the end of a long paragraph of illustrations of other meanings of FANGPI. I missed it when I looked for it a second time. It should really be definition 3 of FANGPI.

  28. Jerimiah W. said,

    April 8, 2012 @ 7:13 am

    @ Bob –
    you are referring to FEIHUA as “don’t mention it”… it is used at a very different manner as what Prof, Mair states here.

    I would agree with q, who is actually referring to 废话 as something so obvious it does not offer any value when being said, not as “don’t mention it”.

    To me, the terms of “inanity” or “blather” seem more appropriate than “nonsense” for this newer type of poetry. Here’s another example of what is known as 梨花体, from the renowned author Zhao Lihua, whose poetry netizens have “hailed” as 口水诗 (lit. spit poetry, or garbage/worthless poetry):

    《一个人来到田纳西》

      毫无疑问

      我做的馅饼

      是全天下

      最好吃的

    Translation:
    “My Arrival in Tennessee”

    It is without a doubt
    that my pies (lit. the pies I make)
    are the best pies
    in the world.

    It just… doesn’t seem like something that is poem-worthy or meaningful in any discussion-provoking sense, and yet is still highly praised in literary circles. As to whether or not other 废话诗 are simply satirical of this blind praise, I don’t know, but it seems that this sort of poem falls closer to the term of “inane poetry”, that it is not in fact a satire of politicians.

    Furthermore, the “officialspeak” lampooned in Wang Shuo’s poetry may perhaps be a different sort of 废话. It seems more a satire of the trend in officialspeak to repeat the same meaning with different phrases, and to speak so generally that they have actually not said anything at all (I’ve translated my fair share of speeches, and can certainly empathize with this sentiment).

    I guess I would argue that the 废话诗 and the 废话 in many official speeches are actually two different varieties of 废话, and 废话诗 are not actually a satire of officialspeak at all.

  29. perspectivehere said,

    April 8, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

    Regarding Wang Shuo’s poem about eating pears and seeing them in the supermarket (which seems to me to be less nonsense and more about how one’s perceptions of value and quality change when the object of ones value is held up to the marketplace), and Zhao Lihua’s poem (which seems to be memorializing and poking fun at the ubiquity of Tennessean locals’ expressions of pride in one’s pie-making abilities), we can complete a Language Log Stream of Consciousness Blather Modernist Poetry Trifecta with a third poem about food:

    “This is just to say”

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    saving
    for breakfast.

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold.

    William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963), an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism.

    http://listverse.com/2007/08/28/top-10-american-poems-of-the-20th-century/

    This is regarded as one of the “Top 10 American poems of the 20th Century”, and read by every American student in high school literature.

    Is the praise deserved? Is this a poem about nothing, about imagery, or satirizing the vacuity of modernism?

  30. julie lee said,

    April 9, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    @Bob Ladd:

    Bob, I agree that Wang Shuo’s lampoon of Chinese officialspeak is an aria, and an instance of _aria frita_ too.

    @Jeremiah W and @perspectivehere:

    Thanks Jeremiah for the poem on “my pies” and thanks perspectivehere for Williams’ poem. Yes, I wonder why Williams’s poem was chosen as one of the top 10 of the 20th century.

    Actually Wang Shuo’s parody is in prose, though it may be called (a parody of) “poetic prose” or purple prose. It may sound like a poem because of the abundant use of parallelism and flowery language. But those are common characteristics of Chinese poetry or prose, which Wang Shuo exaggerates, using strings of familiar stock phrases. The comic effect is enhanced by the inflated language suddenly shifting into deflated language, by the high-flown admixed with bits of the quotidian, or the quotidian suddenly shifting into the high-flown.

  31. Chandra said,

    April 10, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

    Canadian here too, and to me “on sale” in any context always means “at a reduced price”.

  32. Victor Mair said,

    May 6, 2012 @ 6:22 am

    Here’s another translation of the Wang Shuo piece, this one by Brndan O’Kane. The author notes: “the translation was done with an eye towards performance, rather than as a strictly literal translation — though I think most of the liberties there are pretty defensible. …{i}t makes a great performance piece. Have reproduced my (free-ish) translation below — hope you’ll enjoy it. I added the line breaks to remind myself when to breathe.”

    =====

    Esteemed, respected, beloved guide, helmsman, pathfinder, trailblazer, architect, shining beacon, blazing firebrand, demon-revealing mirror, dog-battering club, daddy, mommy, grandma, grandpa, paterfamilias, progenitor, primate ancestor, Supreme Sage on High, Jade Emperor, Hearer of the World’s Cries and Generalissimo,

    though every day brings a thousand weighty matters to your attention, ten thousand tasks and a million hardships, hard labor piling up, back-breaking and habit-forming, heavy burdens and a dizzying pace, breathtaking speeds, soaring through the heavens free and unfettered, raising up the lowly and comforting the afflicted, upholding the cause of justice, dispelling wickedness, expelling the heretical, curing rheumatism, treating cold sweats, lengthening and strengthening, good for the kidneys, nourishing the brain, building up the body, increasing liver function, soothing the stomach, pain-killing cough-suppressing and makes you regular,

    you personally, in person, your very own self, deigned, descended, condescended, lowered yourself to our level to visit, tour, explore, reconnoiter, patrol, inspect, investigate, inquire, interrogate, grill, squeeze, pump, pass on your condolences and press every last scrap of information out of our little alley,

    which is a great consolation, a great inspiration, a great stimulation, a great comfort, a great expression of trust, a great sign of caring, and great praise for such as us.

    we little people, common people, lowly people, sons and bastards, scraggy weeds, whelps, mewling kittens, hoi polloi, mindless proles, madding crowd and simple folk are
    most joyous, most touched, most flustered, most unsettled, most delighted, most flattered, most grateful, most moved to tears, most emotional, most utterly at a loss for words,

    a thousand words and a million sentences, a thousand songs of praise and a million model operas, a thousand mountains and a million rivers, a thousand phrases and a million little letters all blend into a sentence that rises to the heavens, top-of-the-lungs, rolls forth like thunder, resonates and resounds around the rafters for three days afterwards, ear-splitting, earth-shaking, music to the ears, beautiful beyond compare, intoxicating, inebriating, leaving the listener insensate to carnal temptations for three days afterwards, the cry of our age: Hail! Hail! All hail! Hail! Hail! All hail!

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