Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!
I swear I am not a language pedant, but there are some misspellings that bother me more than others. I’m not talking about the theres, they’res and theirs of the linguistic world, I’m not talking about incorrect apostrophes or the like. It’s silly, irrelevant things – such as when people write “rogue” as “rouge”, even though I absolutely understand why someone would write the former as if it was the latter. English pronunciation and spelling, those are some potently weird things. Nonetheless, spell the Dungeons & Dragons character archetype as if it was makeup you put on your cheeks to look less pale and I will roll my eyes. I kid you not. (Okay, perhaps I am a language pedant, just a very selective one.)
But perhaps the misspelling that bothers me most for some obscure reason?
I don’t even think it’s that I used to be something of a Star Trek fan myself, because if anything my fandom began with a balding Frenchman that sounded more British than the Queen. I was never much into Captain James T. Kirk, and I didn’t see Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan until well into the ’90s. Worse than that, I don’t have any particular feelings about anyone named Kahn. I am aware that there is a former German goalkeeper called Oliver Kahn, so whenever someone on the internet misspelled Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically engineered superhuman endowed with the most amazing of chests (played by Ricardo Montalban, naturally – get away with your Cumberbatches, you… children!), I’d imagine not this man:
but this one:
So, my head would be swirling with images and soundbites of overacting William Shatner, the glorious manboobs of Ricardo Montalban and a German whose name means barge and who’s probably not got a Trekkie bone in his blond, blue-eyed body, doing his level best to keep a ball out of a net. And while I may have been a Trek fan a hundred years ago, I am most definitely not a football fan.
So, I can’t even begin to say why the Khan/Kahn mixup gets up my nose a lot… and frankly, people who sit in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, kick footballs or launch proton torpedoes. Because Sam’s Six Damn Fine Degrees entry from last week finally made me realise that for decades now, I’d been mixing up Madeline Kahn, actress, singer and comedian extraordinaire, and Pauline Kael, the film critic who put the fear of Kael into so many. That “Flames on the side of my face” scene from Clue? I thought that was the same person who disliked Casablanca, hated Orson Welles and found Raging Bull empty. And I managed to mix up those two in spite of knowing that George Lucas named his evil General/fantasy Darth Vader rip-off in Willow after poor Pauline. (She got off lightly. Lucas named a grotesque two-headed dragon the Eborsisk, after film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Is it possible that George doesn’t like movie critics?)
So, frankly, who am I to get worked up about the whole Khan/Kahn/rogue/rouge thing?