Coffeegirl63's Blog

Like Chickens With Our Heads Cut Off November 12, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Odd Interests,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 12:21 pm

A couple months ago, I wrote a piece on words. I truly do enjoy words. I also enjoy the cadence of language. Remember in my words piece that I mentioned my friend who feels the words in his mouth? He may also feel the cadence, since it is generally the entire phrase or sentence he repeats. Alliteration gives me a little thrill every time. Puns and word plays are probably my favorites. Some time ago, my sister sent me a comic (which I tried to find so I could post here) showing a scrabble-like board with a few letter tiles on it and several letter tiles on the floor. One guy was searching through the tiles on the floor, and a couple other guys were standing by watching him. The caption said, “It’s all fun and games, until someone loses an ‘I’!” I thought it was hilarious… laughed out loud. Not everyone would see the humor in that (thank you, Jeanice, for laughing out loud with me), but our world works in wonderful and mysterious ways because we don’t all see things the same way.

I have noticed that people who have a strength in a certain area will have a finer sense of the correct and incorrect in that area. For example, I had never questioned the accuracy of touting a product as “chemical-free” until my scientist friend said, “That’s impossible… everything is made of chemicals. If it were chemical-free, it wouldn’t exist!” Well, of course, I know that. I also know the point the manufacturer was making in his ad. However, since chemistry is not an area of strength for me, I never caught the error. A director may view the world through a camera lens, or he may (in his head) edit every film he sees. An artist may view the world as laid out on a canvas, and she will see beauties and flaws in a painting that I never would notice. I tend to edit what I see and hear. Most of the time I’m not judging the writer’s or the speaker’s intelligence (I’m ashamed to say that, once in a while, I do judge, but I’m working on it), I’m just making it right in my own head. One of the most painful-in-my-ears grammar errors is incorrect use of pronouns, especially reflexive pronouns. I know! Who even knows what that means? My good friend Mandy Houk, English teacher and delightful writer, can give you the technical definition. You can read her writing at http://forbetterforworseforlife.wordpress.com/.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, the myth was spread that using the word “me” was self-centered and evil. Why is one so comfortable saying, “Johnny gave the gift to me,” but must change pronouns when involving anyone else–”Johnny gave the gift to Julia and I”? Fingernails on a chalkboard! Of course, it’s just as painful to hear, “Johnny and me gave the gift to Julia.” You would never say (Oh, PLEASE say you would never say), “Me gave the gift to Julia,” would you? As I said, the most painful of all, to me, is the misuse of reflexive pronouns–myself, yourself, himself, etc. I’ve noticed it in business more than anywhere else. For example, “If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jeanice or myself.” Ok, there is no place in this reality that allows me to contact yourself. It’s impossible. Let’s just take responsibility where it is ours to take. I can contact myself, you can contact yourself, I can contact you, and you can contact me. Clear? Good. Now…. right before I step off my grammar soapbox, I have a request. If I ever express my gratitude to you, there are a number of responses that are appropriate: “you’re welcome,” “absolutely,” “my pleasure,” even “whatever, man!” However, I think I would rather read no response at all than to read, “your welcome” because my first response is always, “my welcome what?”

Ok, I’m done ranting. Painful, I know. I do apologize. Once I start… :-/

One side of noticing nuances in the English language is the great stories it affords one. Currently, I’m writing in four blogs–this one, which is just for fun; two professional blogs, human resources and payroll; and another which you’ll never get to know about because it’s private and I only write for my counselor, and even she doesn’t get to read everything I write. In my latest payroll post, I told the following story:
I was working with a new vendor–new to me, but also relatively new in his company. He sent me an email shortly after we established our working relationship, at the end of which he said, “thank you for baring with me.” Umm. Ok, I let it go. However, the next email was addressed to me, with cc’s to his boss, his boss, and my boss. It ended with, “Joni, I really appreciate that you bare with me whenever we work together. It’s been really fun to get to know you.” I replied, just to him, with the following,
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Words, Words, Words September 4, 2011

Filed under: Odd Interests,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 6:56 pm
Who uses more words in a day–men or women? The popular “studies-say” answer is that women use three times the number of words that men do, and that we are a source of emotional exhaustion for men. Eliza Doolittle, on the other hand, would argue that it’s the opposite (you know, the words, words, words song–I’m afraid you’ll have to Google it because I don’t know how to use copyright information to legally post the lyrics here), as she runs, emotionally exhausted, from the men in her life. I’ve known men as well as women who talk incessantly. I have noticed a trait more predominant in women than men: when we get together in groups, we can all be participating in more than one conversation at a time.
I like words. I like how they look on paper, I like how they sound in my ears, and I like how they feel in my mouth. Yes, words do indeed have a feel in the mouth. I know someone who will often repeat a phrase, but only under his breath, for the tactile experience it provides. I love to learn new words. Today, I used the word, “kempt” in a conversation with a friend. I didn’t even know if it was a word, but I thought it should be since “unkempt” is a word. I mean, how can something be UNkempt if it’s not possible for it also to be kempt? So, of course, I looked it up. I was thrilled to see that it is, in fact, a word. A word I rarely use is “whelm.” I know it’s a real word, and the definition of “whelm” makes “overwhelm” seem redundant, but to say that I am whelmed by something just seems incomplete somehow. The other day, I felt angsty and petulant, but it made me feel slightly better to say I felt angsty and petulant than to say I felt anxious and irritated for no real reason. “Soporific” is one of my favorite words. I learned it while reading the Peter Rabbit books to my kids. The bunnies all feel asleep, and were almost cooked into a pie, because of the soporific effects of the lettuces they had eaten. “Delectable” is a good word. It’s important to me that I eat something delectable every day. People have said that we shouldn’t choose food based on taste, but only on nutritional benefit. If that’s true, then it’s wasteful that we have taste buds. Does good food never delight you? I think our five senses are some of the greatest gifts we’ve received. What a treasure that we can taste such a variety of flavors, smell the richness of the earth, see the beauty of a sunrise, hear a symphony, and feel the touch of a loved one’s hand in our own.
Words fascinate me. I proudly subscribe to dictionary.com’s Word of the Day email. dictionary.com often leads me on a serendipitous journey of delight and discovery. In fact, I just stopped by that site to see if there was a link for the word-of-the-day email, and I got lost for ten minutes learning the origin of the ampersand. I have a few friends who also enjoy words, and we will share new words with each other. I received a text the other day from an unknown number. When I asked who it was, and he gave me his name, I increased my vocabulary level to the ridiculous (but it’s how he and I communicate). When I was met with silence, I realized that I was not talking to the Ken I thought I was talking to.
My kids use words that delight some of their friends and exasperate others. Jeanice has been told by her friends that she is not allowed to read vocabulary books.
Combinations of words can also be a thrill. The Princess Bride, the most quotable movie ever, is a source of some wonderful logodaedaly. Did you just go look that up, or did you already know that I was talking about word-play? It’s a word I just learned today–I discovered it as I was looking for another word (again with the serendipitous journeys). Combinations of words can elicit a smile because of the information they provide–I love you, I’m on my way, we’re gonna have a baby! Other combinations feel good in the mouth–fraught with emotion, sleight of hand, peas and carrots.
Sometimes I speak in text: I made her lol. wft? jk. Once, in a professional setting, some asked me a question and I responded, “idk, but I’ll find…” (blush) I blame my daughter for that one. I have a few friends who don’t like text shortcuts even in text, but they can’t stop me from speaking “u” instead of “you” or “r” instead of “are” because they can never catch me at it 😉
Do words ever give you a thrill? Do words have a tactility for you? What are your favorite words or phrases?