Tuesday, April 13

a pre-post: Lessons in Etymology

I've been thinking about words a lot lately. My days are filled with words. I repeat words of instruction to my children, I text words of encouragement to my husband, I hear The Baby babble words I don't quite understand, I wait patiently while The Girl searches her head for right words to convey her dreams and demands, and I listen while The Boy reads big and small words from big and small books.

Over the years I've often changed the way I use words. I distinctly remember the first time I took the Lord's name in vain. As a chuchgirl, I knew better than to say was I was about to say, but as an out-of-place 5th grader longing to be friends with the carefree cool girls, I said it anyway. "Oh my God, he is so retarded!" Immediately afterward I hated what I had said. Even then I was a rule-breaker, but I knew, and tried to obey, the cardinal rules: the 10 commandments and that golden one.

My father had a mouth like a pirate, and never bridled his words in front of me or my younger brother. I learned while I was very young to dislike and fear certain words, and the people who used them. The overabundance of times I heard the F word, the N word, and GD did not make me immune to them, but instead made me accutely aware of them, and my skin would prickle when I heard them used.

As a teenager, I tested the limits of  what I was comfortable with- in speech and in action. Aside from those most hurtful and hateful words (I've uttered GD exactly 3 times in my life, and I shocked myself each time), I spoke like no Southern lady ought to speak.

Then one warm and lazy August afternoon, nearly one month before my 20th birthday, two blue lines showed up on a little piece of plastic, and my life was changed in thousands of big and small ways.

I (almost) immediately stopped cursing, and as my belly grew, the nasty words and the space they occupied in my vocabulary shrank. I didn't even let people cuss around my hearing-capable fetus.

It felt good to rid myself of such negative language. Of course, there have been many (many. many.) times in the six years since my son was born that I've cursed- inadvertantly and, occasionally, on purpose. My language changes depending on my company and location- but I assume that's true for just about everyone. After all, you don't talk shop in church, and you don't discuss religion at a football game.

But lately I've been even more aware of the things I say; especially what I say in front of my children......





(Lessons in Etymology will continue after a short word from our sponsors)

(actually, we don't have any sponsors. i just found this cool shirt at zazzle.com)













.

5 comments:

  1. There's an actual linguistic term for the way we change our speech depending on context/audience/etc. It's called "code switching." Cue "The More You Know" sound effect.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also, I confess, I somewhat enjoy cursing. Which is an itch I usually scratch by rapping along with Jay-Z in my car, but sometimes I drop a bomb or two in speech, much to the shock of my sweet husband.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've started to be more conscious of this very thing. Mostly because while we've had a joke for the last 11 months where we just say "babies don't say...," B yelled Butt, Butt, Butt last month because he heard someone say it. Granted it could have been a lot worse.

    Honestly, I'm less worried about specific curse words that he might repeat and more worried that he might someday repeat something I say about my MIL. That is what I really need to start working on.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ummmm.. I wish I was more like you. I have a PROBLEM with the cursing. I am sure it is a product of my upbringing... enormous irish catholic family of laborers raised in the middle of the city! I drop the worst of the worst and often. Sigh. I am trying really hard to be better now that I have a little one but I SUCK. I even suck at the aforementioned 'code switching' (though I have gotten better since college and living in the south.) and forget at the most awkward of moments. Future apologies for my bad language! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've started to be more conscious of this very thing. Mostly because while we've had a joke for the last 11 months where we just say "babies don't say...," B yelled Butt, Butt, Butt last month because he heard someone say it. Granted it could have been a lot worse.

    Honestly, I'm less worried about specific curse words that he might repeat and more worried that he might someday repeat something I say about my MIL. That is what I really need to start working on.

    ReplyDelete

Leave some love!