The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language says:
1. The phrase of an interjection.
2. An interruption in the delivery of a statement by means of rhythm or meter.
3. A verbal, musical musical or dramatic performance which is fast and is usually followed by a rapid exchange of words and sounds.
There’s no good reason, from a semantic standpoint, why this word should be used in the past tense with a vowel as we do, but it is. The word rhymes with rap. That’s why, even though we often use rap to describe the past tense of past tense verbs, we use rap to describe the past tense of the present-tense verbs.
One of the things that bothered me about R.J. Reynolds tobacco, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, was that it used to be a small business. (That’s the word that the company used to describe itself in many advertisements.) Today, they are a large conglomerate of large, family-owned entities. It has taken them over 60 years to become what they are. I have never seen any tobacco company become as big in 60 years, and I would like to think that this company could be just as big in 30 minutes, instead of 60 years. It is very odd. To my mind, all this fuss about what is the “right” level of tar and nicotine is not about whether the product is good or bad; it is about the politics and the business of the issue. I don’t support cigarette regulation, but I’m more interested in “What’s the deal with smoking and what’s it’s about?” than about banning cigarettes. If there is a smoking-related controversy, I’m curious about how it started. I know cigarettes don’t work that way, and we shouldn’t ban a product with no proven safety benefit; I’m not against regulation of tobacco products. But why use the politics?
A few years ago, I received an e-mail from an R.J. Reynolds employee. They had a question, about a “good/bad” question. Here is the exchange in the e-mail itself:
“Hi, I’m wondering whether the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co has found in any studies that cigarettes cause cancer; Is there any evidence that they cause heart attack or stroke. Thanks, John”
I thought that was something the R
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