I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.

~ Paul McCartney ~

How to Love Funny English

October 9th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 55 secs

Love them or loathe them, you can’t escape them.

My father did this to me. Driving around in his old grey Mercedes, he’d read signs aloud phonetically, giving them a silly spin. Blame it on his crazy, cracked sense of humor. He started it. By playing with words he caught my attention, managing to tickle humor out of the average.

To Let” became “Toilet”, “Jupiter” became “Yoop Picker” (No, I don’t know why either), “hopping center “for “shopping centre”, and so on.

I used to blame it on his European heritage. He laughed about the confusion caused reading about a “dairy” in an early English lesson when the family first immigrated. He couldn’t quite figure why anyone would want to go to a dairy every day to write instead of milking cows. That was until he realized the word was “diary.”

But when I met my eldest cousin from Switzerland an important piece of the puzzle finally appeared. Papa’s mother was Jewish. That explained the stories of Jewish boarders when he was growing up, and his quirky sense of humor that we all loved. So an offbeat love for the ridiculous is definitely a family trait.

That particular love for the funny side of English lives with me still. As a teacher my eyes twinkle at kid’s approximations: lke luv for love, teefbrush for toothbrush, and oso for also.

But there are groaners too that are much harder to love. I guess we all have a few pet dislikes with the way people talk. But I told myself years ago not to get too stuck on trying to be perfect about English. It’s a fool’s errand that only encourages criticism.

So I have decided to love funny English and not take it too seriously. Besides, I love the way language spins off into little eddies and flurries. Now and then, these little bits of flotsam coalesce, forming some new way of saying something new or old. Admittedly I feel resistant about the latest in teen slang, for instance. Just knowing how to repeat them is tricky enough’ Let alone learning to love a word with meanings you’d rather not know.

But by degrees, I go through the assortment to pick out the tastiest tidbits. Then testing them, I own them and, just sometimes, I love them.  That’s one of the strengths of English: its willingness to adopt.

All the same, I’d rather stick to laughing than using approximations like: being “pacific” about a point (instead of specific), “arxing” a question (instead of “asking”), and doing something in one “foul” swoop (instead of “fell”).

After all, you’ve got to draw the “lion” somewhere…

How do you go with words? Do you love them too? Or does the latest lingo bamboozle and offend you?

  1. Feegs says:

    Or “schtick”!

  2. Naomi says:

    Sick! 🙂