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The Emperor decrees that ye will no longer preface statements with “not to…”

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree No. 16 1/3: The Emperor loathes parroted language. He hates when people use a phrase that is either contradictory (or that is completely ineffectual) simply because that phrase appears in a popular pattern of speech. (And, if the Emperor hates it, then so shall you.) With that in mind, subjects of the Emperor (that’s all of you, in case you haven’t caught-on by now) may no longer preface statements with “Not to…” If you are not doing to do “it,” just don’t, but do not use “not to” to announce that this mysterious, forthcoming phrase is exactly what you next intend to do. For instance, during a conversation about baseball: “Not to change the subject, but I think aardvarks might have been deposited here on Earth by ancient aliens.” Or, in any other conversational circumstances: “Not to be sexist, but women are just not as smart as men.” Instead, replace “not to” with the statement: “Warning! I am about vomit forth a statement of alarming stupidity or irrelevance!” and, then, continue. It’s far more effective and logically sound and it makes it easier for the Imperial Spies to determine who needs to be watched closely. “Not to,” my minions, simply does not work out to absolution for your upcoming, moronic verbal ejaculation.

The Punishment: Violators will be sent to the Imperial Torture Chamber and they will repeatedly have their heads forced into a large tub of water by Gerhard, the Imperial Dunker. (You should see his arms.)  Before each submersion, Gerhard will smile and say, “Not to deprive you of oxygen, but…” The violators will be released after twenty dunks, if they live. A lot depends on Gerhard’s mood. And he has a tendency to lose track of time…

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning.

Chris Matarazzo is a writer, composer, musician and teacher of literature and writing on the college and high school levels. His music can be heard on his recent release, Hats and Rabbits, which is currently available. Chris is also the composer of the score to the off-beat independent film Surrender Dorothy and he performs in the Philadelphia area with the King Richard Band. He's also a relatively prolific novelist, even if no one seems to care yet. His blog, also called Hats and Rabbits, is nice, too, if you get a chance...
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4 Responses to “The Emperor decrees that ye will no longer preface statements with “not to…””

  1. So what do I use in place of “not to”?

  2. Bob — nothing. You just say what you mean and take full responsibility for it. Then ye shall be beloved of the Emperor.

  3. The Emperor is wise.

    Saying “Not to be a jerk” before saying something a jerk would say does not make you less of a jerk.

    As I understand the Emperor’s decree, the choices are:

    1) If you’re going to be a jerk, own it. You can’t avoid the blame by denying your jerkiness in the same breath of saying something jerk-like. Just say the jerk-like thing you want to say and live with how others judge you for it.

    2) If you don’t want to be a jerk, then don’t be one. No need to say “Not to be a jerk” in that case.

  4. Exactly. You have quite a future as an Imperial Minion, Scott. Stop by the palace one of these days and we’ll talk about your new position on the Imperial Linguistic Council.

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