Category Archives: Language

No Ifs, Ands or Butts 2

Cordially Invited asks:peeping_tom

Dear Dr Cragglehold,
What are ifs & ands?
I’ve received an invitation that says “no ifs, ands, or butts.”
What am I supposed to wear?
Cordially invited.

Dear Cordialia,

I know what you’re trying to do here; by intentionally misspelling the word ‘but’ as ‘butt’ you’re baiting me into writing about your backside.  I’ll avoid speculating as to whether your motivation is simply an interest in harmless amusement or a hurtful attempt to portray me as a witless ass and simply state that, although I would quite enjoy describing the subtle curves and bounce of your caboose, such wordplay would be better served through a more poetic medium than this prose affords.

Let’s cut to the heart of the issue, shall we?

What the host of the event in question meant to say with their dimwitted old chestnut was that no excuses for your absence at their event will be tolerated, regardless of how valid said excuse may be.  Even if your leg was mauled to a pulp by a timber wolf and your blood is pulsing from your thigh in crimson jets but there’s no time to apply a tourniquet before the party you are expected to attend.  In fact, if you’ve just started to peak on a quadruple dose of some hallucinogenic like DMT and no one can convince you to stop stripping away your clothes and masturbating for strangers with a celery stalk sticking out of your butt you are still anxiously awaited at the soiree.  

If your car broke down and the only ride you can get is with the Eastern European gentleman that watches you change through his binoculars from the oak tree outside your bedroom window on the condition that he gets to rub your thigh on the ride there but you can’t tell anyone this time, you must still arrive on schedule.

So to answer your question, Cordiallia, you should wear nothing.  If the host complains – as they likely will – explain to them that if they have a problem with what you’re not wearing they can shut right up and suck your exposed butt.

Your Social Consultant,
Dr. Cragglehold, Ph.D.


The Society for Promoting Cruelty to Asses

Cordially Invited asks:

Dear Dr Cragglehold,

What are ifs & ands?
I’ve received an invitation that says “no ifs, ands, or butts.”
What am I supposed to wear?


Cordially invited.

Dear Cordially,

Were the invitation to simply say “No Butts” the attire would quite obviously be of the ‘assless’ variety.  Such events are generally put on by either sexual deviants or bikers.  Or cowboys.  But I wouldn’t recommend wearing ‘assless’ pants of any kind if there are horses nearby.

I once received an invitation to a symposium on the dangers of allowing paramedics to operate within a democratic society that contained no ‘if’s or ‘and’s.  It was supposed (correctly) that paramedics lack the necessary linguistic creativity to decipher such a code.  It read:

Dear Dr. Cragglehold, Ph.D.,

Your incredibly illustrious presence has been requested at an occasion to celebrate the vast superiority of intellect over the common paramedic.  

The event will take place at 253 Elmhurst Way at eight o’clock on Saturday November 16th.  

Do not call an ambulance.  As well: please RSVP as soon as possible.

The Society for Promoting Cruelty to Aides (SPCA)

In case you’re wondering, I did not attend.  You see, I had realized too late that Aides and AIDs were different things.  I should have realized it earlier, as it would be quite suspicious for one acronym to be contained within another.

I imagine an invitation for a ‘no butts’ party in the same code might read something like this:

Dear Cordially Invited,

You are cordially invited to an event at which nobody will be wearing anything to cover their asses.  As there has been some confusion surrounding this issue in the past I must clarify that the preceding phrase: ‘cover their asses’ must be taken quite literally.

Do not worry, there will be no horses present.

The festivities will commence at eight o’clock sharp, Saturday, November 16th, at 253 Elmhurst Way.  Please feel free to bring some friends, but RSVP ASAP.

The Society for Promoting Cruelty to Asses (SPCA)

So to answer your question, Cordially, I think you can wear whatever you want to this party, so long as the butt has been removed.  Of course, I would certainly recommend bringing along an ample supply of water based lubricant.

Your Paramedic Translator,
Dr. Cragglehold, Ph.D.

Politically Correct Racism

Sarah asks:

Dear Dr. Craggenhold,

My friends and I are heading down to Stampede this July. We’ve decided to buck the norm and instead of dressing as cowboys and cowgirls we’ve decided to go as Indians. In the context of cowboys and Indians, is it PC to call them Indians.? Or do I have to say I’m dressing as an Aboriginal?

Dear Sarah,

I don’t think a personal computer can tell the difference.

Whether or not either term is politically correct, however, leads us to a complex and dangerous line of reasoning.  You see, even the term ‘politically correct’, albeit politically correct, is far from accurate.  The term ‘correct’ implies that something is exact or true.  Politics, however, deals exclusively with a wide spectrum of very different opinions.  It would be more accurate (or ‘correct’) then to say that one term or the other is politically aligned with the opinions of a select group of individuals.

The individuals in question – your ‘Cowboys and Indians’ – are comprised of two very distinct cultures.  Cowboys would most likely find it favourable to use the term ‘Indians’.  You see, even after hundreds of years, after putting men on the moon and proceeding to  invent global positioning satellites these ‘Cowboys’ of yours still haven’t figured out that India is on the other side of the planet.

In it’s truest sense the term ‘Aboriginal’ should rightly refer to some primitive strain of bacteria or a fish that managed to develop simple lungs millions of years ago.

In the opinion of this select individual you should attend the Calgary Stampede dressed as you plan to and refer to yourself as a ‘towel-head’.  Not only is this term just as accurate as the ones you’ve suggested; also it is ‘Politically Progressive’.  You see, by challenging the agreed upon misconceptions of such a wide spectrum of very different opinions you will create a degree of racial confusion eventually leading to the elimination of racism altogether.  If you refuse to correctly discern a particular racial category then those in your circle will be forced to refer to everyone else simply as ‘human beings.’

Your Nigga,
Dr. Cragglehold, Ph.D.

It’s not its fault

Mock Fragglehold asks:

Hey Doc,

Firstly, why “it’s” and not “its”?  For example, “it’s origins in the otherwise dull annals…’, ‘governing all aspects of it’s production”, or “subdivide it’s elements”…

Secondly, who the heck are you, anyway?


Mr. Fragglehold

Dear Mock,

Although the last few generations have been taught to distinguish ‘its’ from ‘it’s’ as the neuter possessive pronoun form of the word, the debate over the validity of such a claim continues.  You see, there are many of us that believe the decision to create this English ‘rule’ is based on a conspiracy of the most diabolical nature and so maintain that either form may be used to satisfy the writer’s preference.

The etymology of the word ‘it’ stems from before the seventeenth century.  ‘It’ was born from ‘hit’, which was also the root of the word ‘he’.  So it was no surprise that folks used to say things like “the bureau fell over because one of his legs fell off.”

Back then ”tis’ was the usual contraction of ‘it is’.  Hence: “the bureau fell over because one of his legs fell off.  ‘Tis now broken.” But as the English accent became more pompous and sophisticated it was decided by the king that the two words should collide, and for his own amusement he left the method of their distinction up to the common man.  It was a dark time for the it(‘)ss.

The common man could not decide.  So, logically, they turned to Shakespeare.  They pleaded with the playwright to solve their problem so that they could stop pummelling each other in the streets like the Irish.  But Shakespeare refused, making a point to avoid the problem altogether in his plays:  “it had it head bit off by it young” – King Lear, 1606 (in Strang, OED)

It seemed that this problem would never go away, and that linguistic misunderstandings would soon topple the British Empire.  But, suddenly, editors mysteriously began changing the possessive ‘it’ in Shakespeare’s texts to ‘its’, effectively settling the debate and renewing the strength of the Empire.

However, as we all know there are equally valid arguments for reversing the usage of the two terms.  In laissez-faire linguistic evolution the debate should rightly continue.  The British and, subsequently, American empires should have been stopped in their tracks by this occurrence.  But someone very powerful obviously had too much to lose.

Some say it was the Church.  But I have amassed considerable evidence to suggest it may very well have been the International Paramedics League.

The answer to your second question may be found here:

Your subtle linguistic rebel,
Dr. Cragglehold, Ph.D.