‘To celebrate in song’
I have decided to do some trolling.
“To antagonize online (or in this case, in print) by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.” (Merriam-Webster)
I’m going to troll with regard to some Yuletide carols.
“To sing loudly. To celebrate in song.” (Merriam-Webster)
Or, maybe I’ll just act like a troll and complain about the English language that we use.
“A big, dumb, very tough monster, possibly under a bridge.” (Brian Ferry)
Deck the halls.
I never really pictured someone punching out the halls, whether they had boughs (what’s a bough?) or not.
Therefore, I must have used context clues to decide that there was a word ‘deck’ that meant ‘make pretty.’
Same with ‘don’ in the next verse/stanza/line — one of those is probably right.
‘Don’ — v. to put on. I worked that one out myself.
Then we get to the champ.
The past 10,000 times I’ve sung Deck the Halls, never once did I go to… “Troll the ancient Yuletide carol.”
(Of course, now I have. Perhaps a little too loudly with a few too many witnesses.)
That makes me wonder what I was singing all those other times. Fa la la la la only goes so far.
“Rutabaga Yuletide carol?” I was once told that people who are supposed to make background chatter on TV are encouraged to say ‘rutabaga’.
The family filler term? “Yellow hammer Yuletide carol?” That’s not bad.
This is the trap in singing songs that are older than our country.
We enthusiastically sing about brightly dressed, grumpy bridge guardians named Don punching out Carol and Holly in the hall. Or we do until we look up the lyrics and some definitions.
Then we realize that our language is even more ridiculous in old songs that rhyme than it is in normal usage — which is plenty.
In ‘researching’ this column, I came across verse 2 of Jingle Bells. Again. I don’t think I ever sang different lyrics, no matter how many times in a row I sang it. Unless Batman was involved. But it’s there. Think a sequel. It’s short of ‘Jingle Bells 2 — Open Slay.’ Maybe more in the Spring Break disaster genre than straight-up horror.
Brian Ferry is a seasoned news reporter who does not particularly appreciate the quirks of the English language and rarely sings except in the newsroom and his car.