Ehhh! What’s Up, Doc?

I would predict that most of us fifty or older would quite readily be able to provide a context for the title I have used for this posting.  The theme will follow. . . . in my usual convoluted and perhaps distracted fashion.

Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse share the title of best all-time animated cartoon character.  I tend to lean toward Bugs.  He has more edge,  more sauciness, just more there to savor.  When he was created as a speaking character,  I’ve found,  his fabricators at Warner Brothers wanted him to have sort of a blend (using the voice of Mel Blanc) of a Brooklyn and Bronx accent, perhaps a “Flatbush accent.”  He also seems to me to present himself as a young wannabe with a lot of “street smarts” but surrounded by a bunch of rubes.

His nemeses and occasional sidekicks were two other memorable characters,  Elmer Fudd  and Porky Pig.  Both of these had speech impediments,  which would likely mean they couldn’t pass muster today in our era of “political correctness” and nannydom.

Fudd could not pronounce the “r” sound.  In a typical protest he would condemn the “wascally wabbit” for stealing his produce as Bugs would pose nearby, nonchalantly gnawing on the huge orange carrot that he had just plucked from Fudd’s garden.

Porky Pig’s problem was stuttering.  An example might be something like,  “What’s  huh-huh-huh-uh going on here?”  And he would usually appear at the end of the Loony Tunes cartoons (and later also the Merrie Melodies) proudly announcing,  “Th-th-th-th-that’s all, Folks!”

I use “Ehhhh!  What’s Up, Doc?” as my title for this posting because I am interested in the way in which the small word “up” has become such a big part of the English language.  It is an upstart kind of word,  often upbeat,  swimming upstream, always upstanding,  and typically upheld in many ways by writers and speakers. That its usage in the American English language  is probably much more widespread than its antonym “down” might serve to reveal quite a bit about the breezy optimism of the merican–male or female.

A book that was widely read by educators during the time I was ending my high school teaching career and later helping to educate prospective teachers had the intriguing title Up the Down Staircase (1965).  Written by Bel Kaufman,  the book was kind of like a “white paper”; it sought to demonstrate how the focus in public education on trivial matters and archaic discipline was detrimental, rather than helpful.  Ms. Kaufman’s title reflected a common rule in the larger public schools of New York City,  the dividing of stairwells or stairways into “Down” or “Up” traffic.  A student violating this policy of decorum could often face at least detention,  if not more.

A movie adaptation of the same title was released in 1967 and was considerably successful,  featuring Sandy Dennis as Sylvia Barrett,  a novice teacher of English,  who is spending her first year at an inner city school in New York City.

Much more recently has come out the highly praised and popular movie Up,   a story in lush animation of an old man (Carl) who is trying to regain his mojo after the passing of his beloved wife.  Each devoted to the other,  they had always planned to travel to South America, to enjoy a visit to the idyllic  “Paradise Falls.”  With an assist from a young scout named Russell (who is determined to get a pin on his uniform for “assisting an elder”),  and a quirky bird dubbed “Kevin” (though it turned out to be female),  Carl does manage to get his old house (which is threatened with removal by a development’s contractor) in the air using helium balloons,  and he does miraculously get his ungainly  steed to fly many hundreds of miles and to land safely and comfortably near “Paradise Falls.”

Up is an ideal title for this great movie (I confess to watching only about half of it on Ava’s DVD during her recent visit.  Her favorite animated movie, at age four, incidentally,  is Hercules (1997),  a song in which [“Go the Distance,” a Golden Globe nominee that year for best original song]  she has come to love and which she has memorized.)

I would also affirm that “up”  is probably the king of verb particles in English.  If you remember my posting a short while ago,  “A Homily on the Homely Preposition,” I made quite a to-do about not confusing the verb particle (in a two- or even three-part predicate verb) with the preposition.  An example of a three-part verb with particles is “put up with”as in the sentence,  “I cannot put up with anymore of your nonsense.”  Why do we know these three words constitute a predicate verb?  Because we can move the object of the verb around without violating the principles of syntax:  “I cannot put up with your nonsense anymore.” Compare a sentence with “up” as a true preposition:  “She decided to put the preserves up on the top shelf.”  To change the sentence to,  “She decided to put up the preserves on the top shelf” essentially is different as the meaning of the sentence would, at best,  be ambiguous.  And, we need to be aware that complications created by ambiguity might create a need for disambiguation. (I recently came across this last word and have been dying to use it.)

“Up,”  I would believe, is probably used much more often as a verb particle than it is a true preposition.  And it is most often found in an intransitive verb.   I RECOMMEND VERY HIGHLY that you find a speech by Kimberly Alyn that essentially is a catalogue of some sixty or so of these types of verbs.  You can find her three-minute-and-ten-second inspirational talk by either going to YouTube and entering her name or going to her Web site,

She will be telling you to stand up, speak up, wake up, listen up, sit up, and so on. . . . Quite a tour de force.

Add comments,  please!



15 Responses to “Ehhh! What’s Up, Doc?”

  1. Tammy Stephens Says:

    L’amitié EST une de God’ ; les plus grands cadeaux de s ! Vous êtes cher à moi.

  2. Xfriend Says:

    Friendship is first with God, the greatest gift of all! You are dear to me.

  3. Tammy Stephens Says:


    “Friendship is one of God’s greatest gifts, you are dear to me. ”
    It’s a response from a comment raymond left on my blog.
    I was telling Raymond, that he is a dear friend.

  4. Xfriend Says:

    OK, Ray is very fly. And I heard he’s a good golfer too.


  5. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Does he give golf lessons, lol?
    I still don’t think there would be hope for me.

  6. william campbell Says:

    Mnea, mnea, mnea; Mission accomplished!—george wmd bush

  7. Disgusted Says:

    So are the comments on this thread on the “up and up” or are we totally just “making up” comments to simply to “stir up” some idle chit chat to “keep up” the conversation?

  8. Tammy Stephens Says:

    Gracious, gracious! Made one comment to Raymond, and it’s gets blown out of the water. Just like all the other comments, freedom of speech. Raymond, is a dear to me, and have no problems letting him know on Thanksgiving, or any other time.

  9. Forest Crump Says:

    Just remember,
    “You gotta get up
    to get that get-down feeling,
    you gotta get up…”

  10. Tammy Stephens Says:


    Go Forest! Go Forest! 8)

  11. fayettenam hoe Says:

    how you compare mickey to the bunny eludes me, elmer fudds

  12. Marsha Says:

    Can anyone please tell me where I could get a printed copy of Kimberly Alyn’s sppech so I can print it and read it everyday??!!!!!

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