Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wordy wordy wordy

Words are funny things. Either there are several words that mean pretty much the same thing, or there are several meanings for a word or phrase. Or sometimes there isn’t just the right word or phrase to convey what we want to say.

That’s part of the allure for writers I suppose.

For my mom, a couch or sofa will always be a davenport no matter how often I tease her about it.

In the South, a carbonated beverage will always be a Coke, regardless of the flavor or brand that is being offered. In the East, the same beverage is a soda. In the Midwest, it is a pop (and you will get strange looks if you call it a soda).

I once got into an argument with a boyfriend over the correct pronunciation of the word “cement.” He was from southern Illinois, and had a Southern accent, which I found interesting since Illinois isn’t really Southern to me. He insisted that it was pronounced “see-ment” with a long e. I assured him that it was pronounced, well, cement. You know, “sa-ment.” Why this was worth arguing over, I’ll never know, but of course I had to be right.

The fickle nature of words that appeals to the writer has less appeal for parents.

If my nephews ask to do something and get the answer “we’ll see” they will respond dejectedly “that means no.” If my kids get the same response they will say “yay!” because they will usually get what they asked for.

My kids also choose to make "no" mean something more like "maybe" or "you can do it if your mom doesn't see you." Is that just my kids that do that? I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re not alone in this.

When they were toddlers I remember joking with my brother that our kids thought that the word “no” meant, “just do it faster.”

“Stop,” to my kids, means, “stop in a few minutes when mom starts yelling.”

I’m not sure where that word filter comes from, but I suspect, as usual, that it started with my actions. I’m wishy-washy when I should be firm and consistent. Or I over-react when I could be wishy-washy. I’m confused by what I mean half the time myself.

Is it just me?


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6 comments:

fizzledink said...

Heee - as a Midwest transplant, I've had some fun with that whole "Coke," "soda," "pop" thing. It's funny how there are regional words that no one else uses, right?

I love the take on what your kids hear when you say, "no" or "we'll see." I have no idea what the big ones will be for Smooch.... but I think you're on to something, I bet he thinks "don't touch" means "just touch it quick and move before mom gets across the room to you." :-D

Mrs. Swizzle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Swizzle said...

I've managed to stop calling all carbonated beverages "Coke", though that's what it was growing up. Mostly now they're "mixers"!

As for the kids, I think only 1/3 of my words make it into their brains. I do have to say that "no" and especially "stop" have the same meanings in our house as in yours.

angi said...

That last paragraph...did I write it? That is me, and those sound like my kids too!

And we enjoy POP around here :)

susiej said...

I always thought pop was that sugary fizzy stuff. This is apparently a "midwest" thing. Everyone on the east calls it soda. College... covers all barriers.

Kara said...

My kids wonder how long "just a second" is and we banter a lot between "maybe" and "we'll see" too.

I used to fight with friends about how to say jewelry. Jew-el-ry. Not Jew-la-ry. Funny.