06/07/2010 03:41 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

BP Oil Spill Changes Nature and the English Language

Good-bye birds, fish, mammals, wildlife, habitat, and metaphor.

Phrases' new meanings:

"Hey, you're a shrimp!"
Then: You're short.
Now: You're dead.

"The world is your oyster."
Then: Everything is possible.
Now: You're screwed.
Example: Charles Manson is serving life behind bars and has been denied parole eleven times. The world is his oyster.

"Your forehead feels clammy."
Then: You have a fever.
Now: You're dead.

"A spill."
Then: A tiny tumble.
Now: The end of the earth.
Example: Joey took a spill on his bicycle and killed ten thousand pelicans.

"Keeping your head above water."
Then: Just surviving.
Now: Only your head surviving.

"Fishing for compliments."
Then: Looking for affirmation.
Now: Future Louisiana fishing industry.

"Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime."
Then: Give knowledge, not charity.
Now: Cruel practical joke.

"Neither fish nor fowl."
Then: Not clearly one thing or the other.
Now: Not dead.

"I'm crabby."
Then: I'm testy.
Now: I don't feel so good.

"Clam up."
Then: Keep quiet.
Now: Die.
Example: A small plane crashed today. Three people on board clammed up. The pilot is crabby and not expected to survive.

"I'm on a seafood diet; I see food, I eat it."
Then: Joke.
Now: Suicide note.
Example: I can't take the pressure any more. It's not your fault. I'm going to Red Lobster. Forgive me.

"Life is no day at the beach."
Then: Life is hard.
Now: Life is easy.
Example: Yes, I'm broke, homeless, sick, divorced, abandoned, old, and in agony. But thank God at least my life is no day at the beach.

"A fine kettle of fish."
Then: A small mess.
Now: A disaster.
Example: Auschwitz was a fine kettle of fish.

"The Tortoise and the Hare."
Then: A tortoise and a hare.
Now: A non-aquatic inland animal and a hare.

"Gone Fishing."
Then: Away doing something wonderful.
Now: You're dead.
Example: The world's oldest person went fishing today.

"Having a whale of a time."
Then: Fun.
Now: You're dead.
Example: Many POWs in Vietnam had a whale of a time.

"Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks."
Then: Food.
Now: All fish are sticks.

"Something's fishy."
Then: Something's suspicious.
Now: Something's dead.

"See you later, alligator."
Then: Will see you later.
Now: Won't see you later.

"Free as a bird."
Then: Free.
Now: Dead.

"Fish story."
Then: A tall tale.
Now: The last chapter.
Example: Princess Diana's fish story took place in a Paris tunnel.

Then: Wildlife habitat.
Now: Lost city of Atlantis.

"Frog in your throat."
Then: Irritated throat.
Now: He's in there getting cleaned.

"Top Kill."
Then: Sounds like a Tom Cruise movie.
Now: Sounds like a Pauly Shore movie.

"Clams Casino."
Then: A clam dish.
Now: Russian Roulette.
Example: I've been in love with Christopher Walken ever since the Clams Casino scene in The Deer Hunter.

"'Louisiana isn't the only place that has shrimp'- BP's Tony Hayward."
Then: Louisiana has shrimp.
Now: Only other places have shrimp.

"Beach volleyball."
Then: Sand, volleyballs.
Now: Quicksand, tar balls.

"Jonathan Livingston Seagull."
Then: Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Now: Jonathan Livingston Dinosaur.

"He's a shark".
Then: He's dangerous.
Now: He's dead.

"Luca Brazzi sleeps with the fishes."
Then: Luca Brazzi is dead.
Now: Who knew the mafia could be so violent?

"Slippery as an eel."
Then: Slippery.
Now: Oily.

"Happy as a clam."
Then: Happy.
Now: Dead.
Example: Death Notices: We regret to announce that Mr. John Smith is happy as a clam on Tuesday, June 1, 2010, of natural causes. Services will be at Our Lady Church. Interment will be next to his wife, who is a shrimp.