15 September, 2006

It's The Official Language, Buckaroo

Lots of talk lately about "official" languages and whether we need one and whether it's fair that English be the one we pick.

And when I sat down to write this post it was going to be something completely different. It was just going to be a boring yadda-yadda about how we took Casey to the betternarian and the leg is healing.

And then I realised that this post should be as much about how we all use language to our own purpose and how even those of us who have a fairly good grasp of this bastard son of a tongue of Rome and Germania and Kells still morph the language into something else.

Call it Tim W. Lite

Our house has its own distinct langauge that all four members of us understand. It doesn't sound wierd to us, but it's not any English you'd recognise elsewhere. And I'm betting that we're not all that special or unique--that other households do the same thing.

We take the furkids to the betternarian. (He's the dogter who makes them better.) We shop at The Kitty Cat Store. (Food Lion has that big funky cat in the logo.) We give the furkids skyjuice to drink. You know it better as "water".

We have built in bookshelves in the livingroom. Because we keep our onyx chess set there it has become known as "the Chess room."

For eight and a half years we lived in an apartment with one bathroom. When we'd go out if one of us needed to use the facilities as soon as we got home we'd tell the other that we "needed dibs." So now, 7 years later, we live in a house that has three bathrooms. And we still say "I need dibs"--translated: I have to pee really bad.

And on and on and on. There are hundreds of examples of how our small social group has built its own language. I think that's both thrilling and telling. Language lives on its own and can't be stopped. Words turn and melt together like a puddle of crayons in the sun.

Take the word "Buckaroo". It's one of those hearty Western words that reeks of English a la Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty. I can't hear "buckaroo" without imagining a John Wayne swagger. Funnily enough, the word itself is a corruption of the Spanish word vaquero.

I love English. It's like a playground and a candy store. Whether or not we make it the "official" language is beside the point. It's a living thing that won't be held in by regulations.


At 1:52 PM, September 15, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

The Boyfriend and I have "Schweet" (I'm guessing at a spelling, it's pronounced "skuh-weet" but in one syllable). From back when we were both in school and would stop be the other's dorm room to pick one another up for lunch or dinner. It's the words "Let's go eat" all crammed into one syllable. Since I doubt it's recognizable to an outsider who may overhear it, I guss we can count it as part of our own language.

At 5:57 PM, September 15, 2006, Anonymous Sis said...

I liked the swimming pool and the happy Eskie better than the creepy Monkey Halloween format. But, yeah, English is cool. When I told my kids to wash their hands for snack the other day, one of them asked me if he had to use soap and water or could he just use the fertilizer. :-) (He meant sanitizer.)

At 9:33 PM, September 15, 2006, Blogger jewels v said...

Yes, Yes, I would have to agree that language becomes specific not only to country or region, but neighborhood and home.

When one or both of us are smelling a little ripe, we have taken to saying that we "have a certain 'je ne sa pa'" (French--'I don't know'). Or when a particular person has gone into too much detail they have "shifted into overshare".

I am sooooo glad to her the furkid got a good report from the betternarian.

At 9:06 AM, September 18, 2006, Blogger grandefille said...

If I could tell you how much I love "betternarian." It makes all kinds of sense!

We refer to crosswalks as "Presbyterian crossings" because that's what my cousin always said. We also refer to a (formerly) popular board game as "Cribial Burzook" because that's what another cousin always said.

Apparently relatives' malapropisms and speech impediments are highly influential in our house.

At 12:47 PM, September 18, 2006, Blogger Ned Williams said...

Yikes; how long before some are demanding that ballots and driving manuals be printed in toddlerphonics?

At 1:06 PM, September 18, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I've already submitted my proposal, Ned.


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