Friday, January 24, 2014

To ESL Learners Everywhere: Why does Gate have to be synonymous with Scandal

I admit it, I have been fully relishing in the day by day revelations of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's alleged bullying rampage.  Only Illinois seems to be more corrupt, and we won't get into a Chicago / New Orleans showdown.  But what I can't tolerate is the moniker most of the press have haplessly attached to a scandal about a bridge:  BridgeGate.  It makes my skin crawl just to type the word.  Must we be condemned to add the suffix -Gate to every scandal that crosses our collective radar?  By now, most people interested in the news have no idea what or why this is.  I can just imagine dictionaries today, adding this suffix to the list of possible word endings.  I can see foreigners the world over scratching their heads, "Those are toll lanes, not gates!" or "Monica-Gate? How many people was she bonking?"
While in an Italian language forum one woman cast her plea out into the world..."Can someone please tell me what is Watergate?!"  A few years ago, the online press, Il Post took it on themselves to explain, in no uncertain terms, the bizarre practice with the Italian press, posting this headline:  Why all scandals are called Gate.
But what is an even more audacious commentary on American marketing prowess, is the fact that even Italian scandals sport the Gate ending, which always makes me wonder if they pronouce it, Gah-teh; which confuses them more than ever.  Rubygate / Batman-Gate / Sexy-Gate (the scandal covered in "Vesuvian sauce") -- they even relished in New York City Mayor's eating his pizza in true Italian style, with a fork = Fork-gate.  
I need to take a break because I am writhing in pain.
But, it didn't start with the Italians.  If I am to trust my web sources (hah!), it is the fearful English-hegemony French that started it all in the first place.  In 1978, a scandal broke which was quickly dubbed, Winegate.  From there, it was a slippery slope straight down to the bottom.  Today, we are treated to Hollande-Gate or Gayet-Gate.  Help me.  Please.  Someone.  Anyone.  Although I must say, European "Gate" scandals tend to be more associated with sex scandals than with corruption.  Maybe because they're more used to brushing off the bribes?
When will another scandal be so great as to stop the gate verbage cold?  Enron - Madoff - Parmalat. Parmalat was the largest financial scandal in history.  Berlusconi's Ruby Heartstealer could be called Rubyalat (which just happens to rhyme with "a lot") or  Hollande's First-Lady problems would be Premier Dame-alat?  Anything but Gate.  

For those of you who don't know what, in reality, Watergate even stands for, it was the name of the hotel complex situated on the Potomac where President Nixon's guys broke into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters.  

Recently, the President of Rome's regional government found a bug in his office underneath a chair, which garnered almost no mention in the press.  Most of Berlusconi's convictions rest upon wire-tapping of his inner circle and his adversaries alike. People don't think twice anymore.  It's no wonder that Gate may be here to stay.  Aiuto.


  1. You must be getting your news about Gov. Christie from a different source. So far nothing ties him to Bridgegate. Further, the mayor who charged him of "bullyiing" her lacks credibility.