Posts tagged ‘words’

January 24, 2012

Watch that Language! You Dropped an “F-Bomb” Behind the Couch

Over at The Hot Word, there is a post on swearing toddlers. In a recent episode of the sitcom Modern Family, a cursing two year old was featured, which apparently has been causing a big rukus.

A swearing toddler in the media isn’t a strange sight these days. It happens a lot in films and if anyone’s seen Will Ferrel’s hilarious video short from Funny or Die of him getting chewed out by his tiny daughter, they’ll know what I mean.

It’s all funny and cute until your kid drops an “f-bomb”. Well, yeah it is still funny. Sometimes.

As a mother of a very verbose five-year-old boy, I wanted to burst laughing and scream simultaneously the first time I heard my son say, “Mommy, what the fuck?” Kids are verbal sponges and I’d obviously hadn’t been aware of all the “f-bombs” I was dropping around the house here and there.

And then there was the day he came home from preschool and gave me the finger. It wasn’t given in an F- you,-Ma-I’m-flipping-you- the-bird manner. He just lifted up his middle finger and said matter-of-factly, “This is the middle finger.”  And then he smiled that devious little boy smile. I exploded. All my vows to be an enlightened, tolerant mother of the 21st century went up in smoke. “Who taught you that?!” I yelled. I had suddenly become one of those uptight mothers who hate “foul language.” He shrugged. I continued: “It was one of those kids at school, wasn’t it?  One of them has an older brother and he learned it from him and now you know it and. . .”   You get the picture.

No matter how closely you monitor your own mouth, the swear words are going to fly out of someone else’s, especially at school. And even more when they get older.   Timothy Jay, a psychologist who studies psycholinguistics and obscenities at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts sheds some light on the subject. In an interview with Live Science he said: “Preschoolers are pretty well-versed in the lexicon, and by 11 to 12, we are looking at adult swearing patterns.” He added: “Kids say swear words as soon as they talk. We have 1- and 2-year-olds who say ‘f—‘ and ‘s—‘ in our sample. . . We don’t learn how to swear from television — nobody does. We learn how to swear from our siblings, from our parents, from the backyard.

So what do you do with a swearing toddler? Everyone has a different method when handling this situation. When it happened to me, I realized I was about to become a blazing hypocrite, but I sucked it up and had “the talk”. I told my son that swear words are “grown up words that grown ups shouldn’t use”. Hypocrite.  And then I told him that while I’d be watching his language, he should also correct me if I let a bad word slip out.

You wouldn’t believe how many times I hear his little voice say, “Mommy, can you please not say that word?”

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January 8, 2012

AutoCorrect This

Autocorrect has been proving to be a headache lately. I can live with spell check in Microsoft Word because it only suggests that something is misspelled, but now that smartphones are crossing that little red wavy line and changing the spelling for you without you wanting it to, it’s become quite a pain in the ass.

Recently, when I sent an email from my IPod with the sentence: “That exotic plant we planted last spring has lost all its luster and has morphed into a black stub”, it changed “exotic” into “exit”, “luster” into “lid”, and “morphed” into “Morpheus”. The result read: “That exit plant we planted last spring has lost all its lid and has Morpheus into a black stub.” Uggh. I mean “Ugh” (I like that extra “g” in there for extra emphasis but spell check doesn’t).

Anyway, I found a very funny example of autocorrected texts on BuzzFeed called The 25 Funniest AutoCorrects of 2011. Check it out.

 

January 5, 2012

Big Bunch of Malarkey

I’m editing the novel I’ve been reworking for the past 15 years one more time. As I’m doing this, I’m rewriting some of the language the protagonist’s grandmother uses, which has me conjuring words my own grandmother – a Lithuanian immigrant –  used. Words like “malarkey” as in “There’s no such thing as the Boogie Man. That’s a bunch of malarkey.” Where the heck did such a brilliant word come from and where did it go?

I also remember words she used like “davenport” as in “Get your feet off the davenport or take off your shoes!” This was an oldschool term for couch. Another all-time favorite was “ruffian” as in “I don’t like that girl with the dungarees and lunatic eyes coming around here. She’s a ruffian.” Other oldies-but-goodies included: “hooligan” (I just learned this is actually a racist term) “hocus pocus”, “whippersnaper” and the aforementioned “dungarees”.

Someday words like “LP” and “amazing” (see previous post about banned English words) will be obsolete. I feel like an old-timer already.

December 31, 2011

Ginormous Baby Bump and Other Banned Words

Each year Lake Superior University releases an annual list of words and phrases banished from the Queen’s English for misuse, overuse and general uselessness. This year’s group of unsavory words  contains some very welcome and confusing wipeouts, including:

  • Amazing
  • Baby Bump
  • Shared Sacrifice
  • Occupy
  • Blowback
  • Man Cave
  • The New Normal
  • Pet Parent
  • Win the Future
  • Trickeration
  • Ginormous
  • Thank You In Advance

I agree with most of these, but “amazing”? Really? I know it’s overused, but to ban “amazing” would be like banning “incredible”. If we could just cut back on the “amazing”, maybe the word could go back to being used as a regular adjective to describe something as impressive.

And what the hell is “Win the Future”? Is this a Charlie Sheanism? And “trickeration”? Is this the sensation of being tricked? I’m all for getting rid of “baby bump”. And while we’re at it, let’s stop using “preggers”, too.

What words would you nominate for banishment?

November 25, 2011

Word Nerd Swag

In honor of Black Friday:

Gifts for the word lover in your life.

November 25, 2011

A Brief History of “Black Friday”

Black Friday: it’s the day people fight over marked-down IPads at four in the morning and women wrench at $25 Betsy Johnson dresses in a tug-of-war.  But where does the term “Black Friday” come from?

Most people know it as a term that refers to the day when retailers turn enough profit to be “in the black” — and old accounting term used when businesses were making a profit and the numbers were recorded in the ledgers using black ink.  “In the black” is the opposite of “in the red” when businesses were losing money and the numbers were recorded in red ink.

But the term “Black Friday” was first used in the ’60s and early ’70s in Philadelphia to describe the heavy traffic that commenced on the day after Thanksgiving.

After 1975, the term was heard outside of Philadelphia and eventually referred to retail instead of traffic.  The two now go hand in hand and most people who don’t want to dodge shoppers in parking lots or be injured in a scurry for big screen TVs on clearance will just stay inside and order online.

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