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Say Again, Tower

Lyrics by Catherine Faber
Melody ©1998 by Arlene "Callie" Hills

The sky mighty black and the Earth blue and green
I flamed out on stellar craft B-17
With never a thought for the future I sought,
So here's to the stars and the spacers between.

"Say again, Tower?", the spacers demand
"Say again, Tower, we don't understand
Gander your phrase book and try it again
And please eighty-six on the slang on this band!"

Like anyone else with the brains of a bean,
I'd read Chaucer and Shakespeare and easily seen
How a language could change in a century's range,
I just hadn't thought what the changes might mean.

With everyone striving to coin the new phrase
The Internet's growth added fuel to the blaze
Kids pick up a word they just overheard
And spread it worldwide in a matter of days.

I laughed at the worries that fell on my ears
'Till the voice from the tower confirmed all our fears,
"Say, B-17, how's the verne escadrine?"
For Pete's sake, I've only been gone twenty years!


When pilots and air traffic control towers are talking, there's often enough noise and static that it's hard for them to understand each other. Under those circumstances, if you're repeating yourself you say "I *repeat*"; when you want the other speaker to repeat (because you didn't understand) you say "Say again?" That way if only part of the phrase gets through, it's still clear who's supposed to do the repeating. I thought that was neat.

Then I read some Chaucer and did some thinking about how language changes over time (see also Yogh and Ash and Thorn).

The URL of this page is
It was created by Cat Faber (cat(at) It is maintained by Arlene "Callie" Hills (callie(at)