Friday, July 24, 2009

Words... A rose by any other name...

Words.... I just love 'em, don't you?

I love everything about them.
I love how words and their meanings and definitions can change with time...
I enjoy studying up on the origins of words...
The look of them marching across a printed page...
and mainly just the feel of words on my tongue...

I love the power of words and the sheer evocative-ness of them.
And okay, my head and spell-check knows that "evocative-ness" isn't a correct word, but you get what I'm saying...right?
And isn't that the whole point of words? To convey what's in your heart and mind? To get your point across?

See, I love big words and little ones, archaic ones, modern ones, plain speech and just using words in general.

I've been told that I write just like I speak and that people can hear my voice when I write... and I guess that's true.
But you see, the words are always whirling around in my head, and I'm just a tool for getting them down on paper.
use me sometimes... rather than the other way around.
So to speak anyway.

I can clearly remember my first words, or rather my first sentence, from when I was about 18 months old.
I remember it clearly... because, for about a year or so, it was about the only thing I did say. Because I said it on a daily... no... make that probably an hourly basis for over a year or two.

"Beebee cy'in, pweese make stop."

Which leads me to believe that my baby sister was born a sooking, whining, pain in the ass patootie... and that some things never change.
She's been gettin' on my nerves for nigh unto 53 years now, so I guess she'll never change at this late date. And neither will my attitude towards her.
Which is kind of sad, innit?

Oh, this "word stuff" is always floating around in my brain, but what really brought it home to me last week, was meeting another American who's over here for a few weeks... and I've been simply lovin' just sitting and listening to this 'friend of a friend', say words...

Now don't get me wrong, I love the Aussie accent and I love most Aussie words, but it does my heart good to hear words pronounced the way I'm used to hearing them pronounced - you know what I mean?
Not that one is better than the other - because they're not .
But it's just different.
You know... just having the chance to hear the words that I listened to and learned when I was growing up.
Just the plain ol' homey-ness of it all.

Words like Nokia being pronounced as No-Kee-a, (that might be a California thing... I'm not sure) rather than Knocky-a.
Or hearing Nike pronounced as Ni-key instead of Nike (rhymns with "like")
Adidas ( A-DEE-das) instead of Added-ASS.
Celica, not Suh-LEEka,
Tortilla instead of tor-tiLLa.
(that one just makes me {{shudder}} when I hear it on cooking shows)
Taco instead of Tack-o...

I get so busy with just listening to the old 'familiar and well-loved' words rolling off Miz N's tongue, and right outta her mouth, that I've actually lost track of what she's saying...
Which has earned me some puzzled looks, I can tell you true, when I sit there listening, and then say things like "Wow! I LOVE this" "This is so cool!" (Hey, I'm very erudite when the occasion calls for it, whot?)... while she's recounting the details of a car crash she witnessed!
But see... it's not what she's saying... it's more how she's saying it.

I just love the wordiness of it all... The homeyness
(as opposed to what the Aussies call homely-ness.
Like in:"Oh what a homely little house you have here." Which is supposed to be a compliment.
And which took some getting used to, believe me... when someone once told me I had a very nice, homely face!)

Now... what had me laughing and pondering last week, was hearing Miz N tell us about an Aussie congratulating her on picking up the Aussie lingo so quickly. After just two days, she was now speaking genuine "Aussie"... and she couldn't figure out what they were on about...

Because the word she had said, was simply "reckon".

See, Miz N and I are both from California, with our parents originally coming from the South... so we've both been saying "reckon" right from the get-go.
It's not a word we learned here in Oz... it's a word we were born and raised with.
Millions upon millions of Americans have been using the word "reckon" for hundreds of years.

And with me loving the meanings and roots of words like I do, (which kinda makes me a self-styled, self-promoting, etymologist, doesn't it?) well... I've almost always known that "reckon" is originally from the German word rechnen.
(I'll spare you the details, okay? But it was my 6th grade teacher that started my life-long love affair with wordiness)

But "reckon" has been a part of the general American language for nigh unto 300+ years now..
("Reckon" is mainly used in the midwest, northwest and southern U.S., while "consider" is used extensively or exclusively on the upper east coast, as well as in parts of the northern U.S.)

Yeah.. I love my words, and I just figure if I've gone to the trouble to listen and learn all about them and absorb them, and because I love the joy that they bring to my life, the least I can do is let them out every once in awhile... and let them dance across the pages.

Do y'all know what I'm sayin'?
What do you reckon?


Kurichan said...

I reckon you crack me up, Kate! :-P

Treehouse Chef said...

I aplaud your gift of using words. I am as crazy about books as you are abour words. So, I can relate when you talk about them with such passion. However, I do not share the gift (of writing with words). They fly off my tongue pretty easy but writing is a whole-nother story.

Caroline said...

I reckon its lovely to have our Katie back! I just had my first smile of the day and its only 4:30AM (shhh... its been a sleepless night). I reckon I'm ready for winter, I'm sick of not being able to sleep and wiping the sweat off my face and neck all day (and night) long. I also reckon its mighty hard to send a postcard without an address. Or maybe if I just send it to Katie's and the munchkins, somewhehere in Aussie, it'll arrive?

Nancy M. said...

I reckon you used a lot of words to say all that, lol! Since I'm from the south, I've used reckon all my life.

I hope you are feeling better! And that Jazzy is too!

Sherri said...

I've lost so many words myself since I've lived here. Words like supper and pop (my mom was originally from Wisconsin) couch, garbage and thingy. Now they're, dinner, soda, trash, sofa and chingadera (thingy in spanish) But I've gained a few words since living down here too, but unfortunately they are not very nice words, but hey at least I'm trying to learn another language. :D hahahaha

Marjie said...

I love words too. I've also been a stickler for the way they're used since I was about, oh, 6. One of my favorite things was teaching the kids how to incorrectly use clauses just to make things sound funny ("The man with sneakers has a cow." "The man has a cow with sneakers.") And my dearly beloved has long known that if he needs a better wordsmith than himself (and he's damn good), he needs to call in me. He can talk the ears off a stone pump, but I can write forever.

Welcome back from the ear problems.

The Wife said...

I love me some words too.

And I reckon you better start lookin' in your mail cause I'm fixin' to send your pay it forward package!!! How long does it take to get from Texas to Australia? Hmmmm.....

joolzmac said...

My biggest pet peeve - people who say NAT-CHOSS instead of nachos and like you said - Tack-o's istead of Taco. Eeuugh! A lot of people have no idea that words have come from another language. Eg. Chic (French) - pronounced Sheek not Chick.
I can remember watching Sesame Street and wondering why anyone would want to put jelly with peanut paste then I found out it was jam. Yum! You have jello. Great couple of posts. We're a wacky bunch,aren't we?

Cheers - Joolz

Homestay Mama said...

Ahh, that explains why you are such an excellent writer. And why I reckon I'll never even come close! And that also explains why we all keep coming back for more of your wit and wisdom.


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