This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Saturday Rave: The Specialist by Chick Sale.

The Specialist is a rather odd thing: it's a very good book written by someone who was never a writer.

How come? Well, Charles (Chick) Sale was what we'd nowadays call a stand-up comedian. In 1930, as now, copyright laws were under strain and there was nothing to stop anyone from copying Chick's most popular act, which he did in character and went by the title of The Specialist.

This state of affairs was obviously a huge threat to Chick's livelihood but there was nothing anyone could do about it until someone came up with a cunning wheeze. If the act was written down, it was reasoned, it would be protected by the copyright laws for printed matter, and this would mean that no one could steal Chick's act.

So Chick got his act printed (it was only 3,000 words), sent off a few copies to the relevant authorities, and offered the remainder for sale.

Ten languages and a million copies later, it's still going strong.

So what sort of a specialist is The Specialist?

He's the champion privvy builder of Sangamon County.


Here he is advising a customer on why not to site his facility at the end of a bendy path:

'Take your grandpappy - goin' out there is about the only recreation he gets. He'll go out some rainy night with his nighties flappin' round his legs, and like as not when you come out in the morning you'll find him prone in the mud, or maybe skidded off one of them curves and wound up in the corn crib.'

And excellent advice it is, too.

Word To Use Today: specialist. This word comes from the Old French especial, from the Latin speciālis, individual, special, from speciēs, appearance, from specere, to look.

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