by Jill Rapaport

This will be a very short talk on recent changes in pronunciation of the word create. Over the past fifteen years, plus or minus a decade, this word, which means many things including “to make,” has had its two syllables consolidated in the mouths of businesspeople, ad spokesguys, on-air commentators, and candidates for the U.S. presidency, into “crate.” The word has sustained a surge in popularity—a “bounce”—probably the greatest since its use in the Old Testament, where in the Book of Genesis, God created the heaven and the earth. Today, if you were in the forefront of trends, you might speak of God’s “crating” the heaven and the earth. God “crated” the heaven and the earth and they were made easier to transport. You could fit the heaven and the earth into an overhead compartment! All praise be to the Crater.

There are craters on planets and moons, in macadamed roads, famously in Central America at Chicxulub, but whether these are the work of the Crater or the places where the Crater walked, fell, was dropped, or even, as in the spontaneous combustion of a Big Bang, first came into existence, is in the category of “chicken-egg” questions.

There are departments and agencies that go by the unnaturally adjectival name of “Creative,” without the encumbrance of an article. These are the places where people are employed to inject the minds of the masses with new emotions. But Creative’s employees can find it hard to get any creating done, since they are simultaneously charged with the upholding of the strict adherence to style Bibles (about corporate branding: the Word of the Crater), and they are made uncomfortable by any manifestation of traditional creativity on the part of unschooled newcomers or willful defiers of the screed of the overseeing companies. You can’t get them to cook the chard right.

The word exists in an interesting neighborhood. There’s Creationism, creative testimony, creativity in the classroom, the creativity championed by worldwide corporations at semiannual gatherings and retreats. Creatine, which builds muscle, was discovered in 1832, when the root of the name could not yet have suffered the dyshuman vandalism of pronunciation of the soft-R’d, mouth-unmoving or, gift of the invading hordes, mouth-hypermoving vocalizings that mark the speech spoken by social agents: the Shaun Donovans, the Seth Pinskys, the Reverend Matt Damons.

Future short disquisitions are on the way concerning more ruined words, including culture (“kolture”), during, sure, and tour (“doring,” “shore,” and “tore”), exactly (“ig-zaakly”), and etcetera (“ek-seddera” or even, “ek-sheddera”) and the not quite complete reversal of political identity of the words red (which meant Communist) and blue (which referred to aristocratic blood), at some point during the interregnum between the McCarthy era—or even the Edith Wharton era—and the so-called Republican Revolution of 1994. A muddy madder the outcome. Workmanlike rebuildings of the word with logs (logos). Dispossession of the word.

And further talks on: Gangs in this hemisphere and in Asia Minor; origins, spread and mutations of Mexican drug violence; destruction of historic buildings and trees; climate change; extinctions of rhinoceroses and tigers; wealth gap; holocaust of books, libraries, and English grammar and syntax, critically and most notably prepositions, idiomatic expressions, and subject-verb agreement. In a semantically related vein, expropriation of the word logistics; strategically opaque redeployment of modifiers, deformation of logic; invasion of the antipodeal realms (nursery of individual memories). Also, perhaps, the iPod people.

Jill Rapaport is a writer and copy editor residing in New York.