In So Many Words

Info-Comics by Larry Paros

Making Fun of People

How to find the right words to respond to a world awash in folly and vice? There's so much nonsense — but so little time, and so few weapons with which to take it all on.

You might begin with a kinder, softer approach. A gentle ribbing might be in order. Anything goes as long as it's not done with malice. Ribbing is nothing more than good-natured teasing, from either tickling a person around their ribs or poking them there while telling a joke.

That failing, what about doing a take-off on them, "putting them on, " "doing a send up of them ", "roasting, " or kidding them — treating them as one would a child or how children taunt one another.

Nothing, however, beats good satire from the Latin satira, "a poetic medley" from satura, a "mixed or full dish" from satur, "sated." What better response to people who are full of themselves?

There's also lampooning. Great stuff — it's sure to go down easily. You can down a few from the Old French lamper, "to guzzle," leading to the request lampons, "let's drink" and lamponer, "to scoff or jest at," describing how rounds of drinking were often punctuated with remarks and songs filled with wickedly satirical remarks.

When all else fails, there's always a little sarcasm. It's pretty gory stuff however. Sarcasm tears into them from the Greek sark, "flesh," and sarkazein, "to gnaw" or "rip flesh with one's teeth." All it takes is a few biting remarks.

On the island of Sardinia, there once grew a poisonous plant that convulsed its victims, creating a grimace of pain resembling a grin or scornful laughter.

And so it ends — not with a whimper but with a sardonic smile on your face.