In So Many Words

Info-Comics by Larry Paros


Why We Talk Turkey

Here's to the turkey, a noble creature nominated by Benjamin Franklin to be our national bird. The bald eagle may have won that honor, but when we sit down to talk plainly and seriously, we don't "talk eagle," we talk turkey. In 1848, the U.S. Engineering Department issued a report relating how a white man and an Indian had gone hunting together. All went well until it came time to divide the spoils. The Indian sat quietly by while the white man did the sorting, "A turkey for me, a crow for you, a crow for you, a turkey for me..." Unable to restrain himself any longer, the Indian finally broke in with, "You only talk turkey for you, only talk crow for me."

That summed it up so well, we've been talking turkey ever since. What better example than the Indian of the story who became a "Native American?"

This is not to make light of the eagle or his contributions. It is, after all, the eagle that screams (or s***s) on Friday (c.1929) — the bird long having graced our currency — and Friday being the day on which most people receive their wages. His time, however, has come and gone. Gobbledygook is firmly entrenched as the language of politics, and everywhere you turn, the turkeys are in charge.