Thursday, July 1, 2010

Plonker! A General Discussion of Household Languages

Isn't that a great term? You plonker!! If only I had the accent to pull it off, then I could use "tosser," "bugger," and "bloody" with equal effect. My US friends/coworkers/co-students don't seem to mind those words so much as they would others. And, yes, I did ask them. I ask about almost everything. Don't get me wrong, I do not go around calling people names. I'm probably the most quiet and polite person you'll ever meet. Still, the English/Scottish/Irish have some of the greatest turns of phrase for being the opposite of quiet and polite. On occasion, and usually just in my head or in my car, I find I need phrases like that. Most of the Americans I asked said they wouldn't be offended in the least if such terms of non-endearment were used to their face. Even my mother concurred--and it's quite a feat to keep from offending my mother! Just think of it: the therapeutic value of having cursed an English blue streak without all the collateral emotional damage.

This language/accent revelation came to me (at first) as I was watching an episode of Lie To Me with Booger--Attrition is really a better sounding name for him though its connotations are, well, rough--and we got to talking about all the phraseology we loved in the English English language (and it's near island influences). We came up with quite a list.

I'd love to stroll into our country bumpkin bank and say, "I keep trying to order computer parts online with my business debit, but you lot keep putting a hold on each transaction until I call you or show up personally. Was atta 'bout? "You lot" is another fave of mine. It is especially effective when referring to a group of tossers or plonkers. That the bank has presented itself as a willing target for initial testing runs is, well, serendipitous.

There are other good words they use often, like "love." Everyone gets called "love." I don't think I'd need the grammatically incorrect ones like "me" for "my" or "nuffin" for "nothing" or "fing" for "thing." Those are mostly regional dialects and I'm not really in it to identify with a subset of the population.

The point is, it would be like having the ability to speak a second language without actually having to learn an entire second language (or third-and-a-half).

My Spanish has done NOTHING for me. Well, I shouldn't be so hasty. I live in Texas. Every third person speaks Spanish and I do understand them fluently. Replying fluently (especially with technical language) is another matter, but I can generally make my point and/or order dinner and shop. My ability to sign is incredibly functional--that was totally surprising--I do translate on occasion for the deaf in our community, but most everyone in the house that once signed now reads lips or has adaptive devices and so signing is reserved for **special** occasions. Plus, it is not an expressive outlet for me at all.

Beanstalk signs when he is angry. It's humorous. Big, wide, flailing signs that say, "I ALREADY WENT TO THE POTTY!!!!!!" as dramatically as possible. Squib will make signs when he is patronizing me with small, curt motions saying: "More, little girl." He acts as if I cannot see it. That is not so humorous. EVERYONE signs when they need to curse and we sign across rooms when speaking out loud would be rude or an interruption. I used to consider that an interruption, but no one really notices if you keep your signs efficient and small and as long as they do not know sign language themselves. Bizarre what people don't notice right under their noses. Sometimes we must just look like we've got an itch we just can't scratch. Especially when finger-spelling.

Squib's school sent a "Home Language Survey" to us (the second thing that prompted this entry). I have yet to decide how to answer it. I am certain I will just put "English" and send it back with them none the wiser for not recognizing sign language as a "real" language. Answering "English," however, will not help his teacher understand his tendency to look like a third base coach during the World Series.


P.S. I made it through June!!!! One post every day! Let's see if I can make it through July......(NOTE: July didn't exactly happen, now, did it? Ha!)

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