Geaux Is No Go!
One of my friends back home in New Orleans tells me that the linguistic monstrosity geaux is now epidemic. Apparently, he’s right.
Regardless of how prevalent it is, geaux is just plain stupid. It makes no sense at all — in any language. In French, a g followed by an e is a soft g, so it doesn’t sound like go, it sounds like zho. What geaux really means is, “I’m not even monolingual, much less bilingual.”
But it just keeps spreading. The Saints stole it from LSU, and LSU stole it from USL, which was using it in the 70s and making the odd literate Lousisianan cringe way back then.
Also widespread is the butchering of Laissez les bons temps rouler: Let the good times roll! Or, Laissez le bon temps rouler: Let the good time roll. Either one is correct, but nobody ever gets either of them right. Inevitably, they combine the two, mixing les (plural) with bon (singular), or spell rouler (infinitive) as roulez (2nd person plural) or roulé (past partiple).
Then there’s the utterly mindless use of accents. When I first started teaching English composition at USL, a professor warned me about the kids with the comma shakers. They had no idea where commas went; so, when they finished their compositions, they’d just sprinkle some on at random, which is what most people do with accents. But accents, like commas, have a logic to them. They’re not arbitrary. It’s acceptable to leave them out sometimes in places where they really should go, but it’s never acceptable to put them where they don’t belong.
A relative of mine has the accent affectation — she’s so proud of the heritage she knows nothing about — and insists on using them, always incorrectly. But the absolute worst is an art director I used to work with, who thinks they’re simply decorations. He once showed me a full-page ad he’d worked up with a three- or four-line headline sprinkled with diacritical marks (lots of tildes) as though they were “confetti.” He asked me what I thought and I said I didn’t like his use of symbols. He explained, in the condescending tone he always adopted with smarter people, that they were meant to give the ad a festive air. I responded that diacritical marks had specific meaning, that they were not meant to be used as confetti, and that they gave the ad an air of ignorance. He didn’t appreciate my input and probably ignored it.
I moved away from New Orleans, for the second time, 16 years ago. The city was falling apart back then, long before Katrina. If the ongoing corruption of language is any indicator, it’s only gotten worse. In any case, it’s clear that I can’t geaux home again.