November 12, 2014

Words, words, words

The other day I asked myself what was the most meaningful relationship of my life. The answer wasn't another person, it was my relationship with language. Words. I love 'em. Here are a few thoughts about how we use them.

My blue collar friends (I have a lot) say things that I find intriguing. Like "butt naked" instead of "buck naked". They have their own language. When they see me in "dress-up" clothes they always say "hey, you scrub up good!" To them, it's really an achievement to be able to make yourself look like a city feller. I think that's sweet.

Moving along, have you noticed that people no longer say "deteriorate"? Instead, they say deteriate. It's as if the word deteriorates before they can get it out of their mouths.

And now we come to an extremely crucial moment in our discussion of words. Yes, I give you: somersault vs. tumblesauce, the eternal question. Which is right? Maybe some of you have never heard the term tumblesauce. But in NY, especially years ago, it was the word for a somersault. Why? Who the hell knows. I think this use is centered in NYC, but since New Yorkers migrate all over the place, you may have heard it even if you live out west. No one knows where it came from, this tumblesauce word. I think it's simply a kid term, perhaps a silly word invented by parents when playing with their toddlers. Or maybe kids created the word as they laughed and did somersaults. I confess I smile when I hear someone say tumblesauce. It's so darn cute.

Last night I was laughing in bed at the word "smidgeon". It's a word that's intrinsically amusing. Today's dictionaries use the spelling "smidgen" but I don't approve of that. I like the word smidgeon but it also seems silly, which is what makes me smile. What I don't enjoy are people who, when you offer them food or drink, reply "Just a smidge". No matter what the thing is, they only want a smidge. It's an epidemic of cutesy word use and I don't like it. Ah haz spoken.

Yesterday I had so much fun working on my book. I just love words, I can't help it. To think that I get to play with them all day! It's amazing. And they say there's no heaven. Bah. It's all around us. You just have to know where to look.

Okay, that's it. You may return to your normal lives now. A suggestion: for the rest of the day, try to enjoy your use of language. Words are toys that anyone can play with. Play with yours today. Enjoy!

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