Perspectives

Words are Whack!

By Contributing Writer, Terry Pettee

Originally published on November 11, 2017

I grew up speaking English.  I have never spoken any other language but English.

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Well, that’s not exactly true.  I had three years of Spanish in school.  But I don’t know enough Spanish to ask for directions to the restroom in a Mexican restaurant.  In fact, the only place I can order Mexican food without being corrected for my poor pronunciation is Taco Bell.  And that’s only because those kids at Taco Bell speak no Spanish and their command of English is limited.  I am convinced Taco Bell meals have numbers because language skill is not an employment requirement.

Sorry, I got off the point.  I do that a lot.

I have three bilingual teenage grandsons.  Around me they speak English.  When I overhear them talking among themselves they slip into Martian.

For example, if a fam (friend) asks one of my grandsons to rate something, like a movie or a video game or popular music there seems to be a number of available options to offer in response.

Gucci or tope means good.  Better than good is goat (greatest of all time).  But the very best of all ratings is yolo-lit (you only live once-amazing).  Of course, there is always the occasional bomb (I shouldn’t have to explain that one).  The bombs are awks, short for awkward, which is not good.  Worse yet is hardcore.  That one, I don’t get.

Fortunately, my oldest daughter is a part-time interplanetary linguist and a full-time public-school teacher.  Which is a good thing since when I ask my grandsons to translate I get a classical form of Martian rather than the Martian spoken by the common folk.

But, I am not totally clueless however.  I can speak classical Venusian or Venusite or whatever people on Venus speak.  I can throw out a ‘hither and yon’ and they think I am talking about Swedish acrobats.  Or ‘wax and wane’ which sounds like a brand of car polish.  My favorite is ‘bill and coo’.  They are not sure I am talking about an interracial married couple or a collection agency.

I got another one.  Strange, Comings and Goings.  I had my grandsons nearly convinced it was a law firm specializing in the defense of international spies until my bilingual daughter ruined that one.

But in spite of the language barrier between us, I hug them every time I see them and they hug me back.  And that is pretty groovy.

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Terry Pettee is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where his undergraduate study prepared him for a career in secondary education. Prior to attending EMU, he was Editor-In-Chief of the Erie Square Gazette while a student at the St. Clair County Community College. Between his community college and university years he was Marysville Editor of the St. Clair County Independent Press where he was a newspaper reporter and columnist. After a brief teaching stint his life’s journey led him into human resource and industrial relations management; a career spanning four decades. Now retired, Terry writes both Christian value based fiction and non-fiction for his own amusement, which is babble-speak for saying he has only a single published book to his credit.

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