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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Homo Confusion

It's a boring Saturday afternoon. The weather is non-descript and dreary. I sorely crave the caffeine I deny myself in liquid form. But for you, I battle through the haze and fog on my endless quest to illuminate your dim minds, and in so doing, share the light. Who am I kidding? I feel flat, but I do have a few observations I wanted to share.

I was teaching students how to distinguish between some easily confused homonyms like "affect" and "effect", "accept" and "except, and other separate words with similar sounds. I stumbled across  a few homonyms that I  needed to clarify in my own mind before I taught them. This could be embarrassing, but I don't claim expertise in anything. My blind spots are everywhere. Sometimes basic words elude me and my memory of fractions and long division is sketchy. Back on task: the first confusion "Ensure" vs. "Insure." I do not write about the meal in a can for old people, rather "ensure" means to guarantee a certain outcome, to make sure that something will happen. Of course, I knew this, but I wonder how many times when I used that word "ensure" that I thought I was using the word "insure" which has to do with the payments you make to protect yourself against against financial ruin as a result of car accidents, acts of God, clogged arteries, or robot apocalypse.

 I'm not sure I ever made a conscious distinction between. "Altogether" and " all together" either. "Altogether" means whole or complete, as in "I'm not sure she's altogether sane." "All together" refers to a group coming together. Imagine some nervous looking man taking a picture of your 7/8th grade  baseball team, taking way more pictures than anyone wants to stand around for, all for the perfect photograph that no one present cares about. He yells, for the 6th time, "all together now and smile!"

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Very Brief, very Frank Interview: Multiple Personalities and Word Use

 Just Call Me Frank  she says, and I do. I used the pronoun "she," but I could have just as appropriately used the pronoun "they." Frank is one woman's body, but many distinct personalities, ranging from a 6 year old girl to that of a 32 year old woman (which is Frankie's biological age). Frank or "Frankie" is all over the Internet, but this website is an adequate point of departure :http://justcallmefrank.net/  Although Frank has been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and uses the blog to channel negative energy and note life events that might otherwise be lost amidst  personality switches, the blog is not just a "mental illness blog" in that it isn't limited to Frank chronicling the difficulties of living with multiple personalities; the journal covers sex, food, art, politics, life in general just as many other blogs do-albeit typically in a much more interesting way. I like Frankie quite a bit and could probably ask questions of her/them? (I give up knowing which is the politest form of address)all day, but most of my questions are word related and won't render an overall portrait of  the interviewee. For that, I suggest you check out Frank's own writing, which is both fascinating and poignant.


RRM: As one body with multiple personalities, if you'll allow that description, you use the pronoun we where many of us would use the pronoun "I." I have a habit of mirroringthe conversational or writing styles of people I interact withI almost slipped into referring to myself as "we."
Does that happen a lot?I mean do people refer to themselves as "we" when talking to you?

Frankie: Not always, inside the head there's more I and Me, especially when it comes to wants, needs, and individual thoughts. we do use I and we in conversation, depending on how many are "hanging about" in our head, or are inclusive, or in agreement, with what is being said.

RRM:
Do you find that the different personalities have different word choiceor different vocabularies?

Frankie:definitely. James (Frankies' boyfriend)notices those kinds of things, probably because he lives with us and wants to be able to decipher who he's having a conversation with (who "executive" is)

RRM:
could you provide an example or is that too close
and personal? Is there a word that comes up more often than not
depending on who's 'behind the wheel'?

Frankie:
Joy likes to use the phrase "you don't know" sort of snotty-like and mouthy.
one uses the phrase "why for" instead of 'how come', or 'why'
James says we have varying accents. Very slight. but he picks up on them.
also, some of us simply sound way different...apparently. while we know in our head what we each sound like we try to control it when it comes put of our mouth with people who don't know us. our last job we didn't always control it, sometimes we'd get odd looks from one of our coworkers.around people we trust we are more relaxed about trying to control it.

RRM:
In a lot of cultures, names have meanings beyond
just their sonic qualities. Do the names Frank and Joy have any significance
that you're aware of?

Frankie: not that we're aware of, though Joy didn't have a name for a long time and it ended up being a play on words because she tends to be so mouthy and sarcastic she's a "joy" (that's sarcastic, obviously)
RRM: ......and Frank is usually just that, although the FB account is known as Frank Subtle Ly.
Do all of you enjoy writing?


Frankie: not really, except as far as it helps us feel better. Some love the research involved in big pieces, Sam only likes it as far as releasing his thoughts, Ivy likes poetry writing...we could go on, but, meh...


Okay, I appreciate your time. A last question: What do you think
of that blogger, Ray Ray Montoya, the one who you beat in Scrabble all the time? Is his vocabulary poor or do y'all comprise an Oxford dictionary between the lot of you?

Frankie: we think he needs to play more Scrabble :-)



Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Fresh New Ishue

   Recently I was ordered by the powers that be to write a blog on the way people add the suffix like appendage known as "ish" to the end of words. 
   My first mental image is of a teenage girl with lots of insecurity about herself, trying to hedge her bets when it comes to self-description "Whatever, I'm smart-ish." Maybe later, she puts on some tube top, pulls her hair back, and affirms to herself in the mirror that she looks "hottish." But I'm being unfair. I hear this suffix of hesitation everywhere. The church I went to for awhile, before I could no longer stand it, was advertised as starting at "7ish."  A girlfriend relates her boyfriend's penis as "biggish." People who are few minutes late are "lateish" or "latish," which sounds like some Jewish prayer or pastry. In fact, I think this is a Millennial or Generation Y tic along with describing things as "uber" or the verb "chillaxin."

  I know that you know me as the cranky, octogenarian shut-in with a habit of shooting his pellet gun at unknown moving objects, and it seems like I would hate it when people add "ish" to the end of words, but I don't. It's an effective way of modifying words, and it's a few less syllables than "semi" or "relatively" or "moderately."

  I guess it can be used to propel stupidity. If a long limbed 6 foot 6 amazon walks into a nightclub, sits down and crosses her legs a la Sharon Stone it would be ridiculous to hear some 19 year old say, "she looks tallish." Then again, it might be ridiculous for a 19 year old to be in a nightclub, unless he has bad i.d. or lives outside of the United States as a few teenagers are known to do.