I Do Not Like That Ham-I-Am

Our German translator JLH has a few things to say about the latest “News of the Weird” story from South Africa.

One of the many things you can learn by reading the news at Gates of Vienna

by JLH

Let’s see if I understand this. Burger King is removing the syllable “ham” from “hamburger” in South Africa so as not to offend anyone. The best statistic I can uncover is that Islam accounts for 1.5% of the ca. 56 million South Africans. The largest single religious group is Protestant Christianity. In second place are those who profess no religion. It makes you wonder whom Burger King consulted (or was directed by). Certainly not the local Jewish lobby. When is the last time you ever heard the owner of a Jewish deli complain to the ADL about the BBQ bar and grill next door advertising spareribs?

This is a pioneering alteration to the language. The word for a type of sausage originally named after its city of origin is reduced to a severed trunk (-burg) that means “fort.” In US English, at any rate, calling somewhere a “burg” is not particularly flattering. I know because I come from a state with a lot of burgs. If I were a citizen of one of the largest cities in Germany — an international port, a center of trade, and an original member of the Hanseatic League — I would not like to be told that I was living in -burg.

This presents a whole new vista of linguistic change, calling up fond memories of the Hitlerian desire to expunge foreign words and phrases from the German language.

Where else in English, for instance, can we find this insidious infidel word “ham”? Perhaps in the Broadway musical about one of the Founding Fathers — you know, Alexander -ilton. Or in the name of a cute little rodent — the -ster — that is so fond of treadmills. Or, if you don’t want to call a small town a burg, you could call it a -let. And if you damage that place down in the back of your leg, you could say that you hurt your -string. This could lead to some confusion, so it may be better to take the high road and say that you pulled one of the tendons that laterally and medially border the depression in the popliteal fossa. That’s a little clumsy, but there are no infidel words in it. (Unless some really picky Muslim scholar objects to the use of the language of the Roman Church.)

And what if we can’t just remove the offensive syllable? What if that’s all there is? Like “Don’t ham it up.” We just have to substitute, and tell show-offs “Don’t steak it up!” “Don’t be such a steak!”

Just to be safe, we should also do away with the term we use for that crispy stuff we often eat in the morning. The morning special might be called “two eggs any style, with choice of ground infidel meat or infidel crispy stuff.” Alternatively “Canadian infidel crispy stuff and eggs.”

And the futures market in Chicago will have to be a bit more circumspect in describing some of the things being traded, like “infidel bellies of unmentionable beasts.” While we’re at it, let’s change “bellies” to “tummies.” It’s cute and it’s a little more refined.

Well, that’s probably not all, but I can’t think of any more, so I guess I will go home to my favorite supper of veal chops and sauerkraut.

13 thoughts on “I Do Not Like That Ham-I-Am

  1. Grovel harder, boys.
    Pro tip: Your new muslim massahs do not think very much of kafirs or kuffars.
    You are all pigs and apes in the eyes of islam. The ANC more than most…but I digress.
    Enjoy!

  2. Who would have thought that saying Ham Ham Ham Ham Ham Ham would be a form of rebellion?
    Ham Ham Ham Ham Ham Ham and… pig! So there!

  3. JLH

    You can’t say “bellies”: “bell” is a Christian device.
    And you have to be content with -erkraut. “Sau” means a sow. The S-word is a P-word.

  4. A muslim and a leftist cross each other in the street.
    The muslim uses the N-word. The leftist (unaware of the other’s creed) retorts with the P-word.
    The muslim A-words him, declaring that he must be a bloody K-word, both an A-word and a P-word.
    The leftist answers: “At least you didn’t assume my gender with the M-word or the W-word, the B-word or the G-word. I object to all categories, even CIS and LGBTQ+. I strongly object to language. It invades my blank safe space with its evil discriminations.
    All words exclude the meaning of all the others:
    Words are racist!
    Grammar is nazism.
    No speech in our streets.”
    Says the muslim: “Islam is peace. So hold that peace, shut the trap, clam up, zip it.
    Kuffar shouldn’t speak at all.”
    The leftist nods agreement and humbly bows his head, realizing he is in the presence of the Greatest of All Grievances (*).
    The muslim beheads him, repeating the N-word just for sport.
    Silence falls when the head has hit the ground.

    My, how well the two-front attack on language is proceeding.
    The very fabric of the mind is unravelled.

    . . .

    (*) The Grievance of Allah, also known as the “um…ah…”: the final refuge of the inarticulate.

  5. I knew I could count on GoV readers to come up with all the versions, interpretations and wisecracks I didn’t think of. Lots of fun! Thank you.

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