(Originally posted Friday, January 09, 2009) Washington, D.C. (API) As America faces increasing job losses and rising financial insecurity, President-elect Barack Obama has proposed the elimination of verbs in American speech as a belt-tightening measure.
"In an age of big American financial crisis, paper expensive. Verbs -- unnecessary," Obama said. "Predicates needless."
The proposed measure would eliminate predicates and all words denoting actions or states of being until the American economy was well on its way to recovery.
"Americans strong," said Obama. "Even without verbs. In the future, less verbal waste. And so more buildings, more food, more money. Hooray!"
House Democrats were fuming about the measure, which they said was proposed without their knowledge.
"No verbs? How no verbs?" asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Communication limited now. Too difficult, speech."
Obama said he expects the cessation of verbs, a major component in syntax, will save the government millions of dollars in paper and also help Americans increase productivity by spending fewer minutes per person on unnecessary verbiage.
"A travesty, this," said former Nixon administration speechwriter and self-described "language maven" William Safire. "The end of knowledge. The end of reason. Devastating. Utterly devastating."
Americans said that they would have trouble adapting to the challenges of a verbless society, and that Obama's proposed changes would likely have them soon stooping over and muttering in some kind of strange simian Neanderthal-speak.
"No verbs too hard," said law professor Felix Diaz. "Language and communication difficult."
"No verbs? Not too hard," said Lila Montgomery, a customer greeter at Wal-Mart. "Toothpaste? Aisle 3. Videotapes? Aisle 10."
"Speech rugged, even when no verbs," said linguist Noam Chomsky. "Grammar universal, innate."
Verbs are words that vary according to many factors, including tense, voice, mood and aspect. Obama was unsure whether the moratorium on speech would extend to gerunds, infinitives and supines, verbs which can sometimes act like nouns.
"Maybe yes, maybe no! A conundrum!" Then he shrugged.
"America no money," continued Obama. "Thus, America no verbs. Not until America money again."