Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2013 (1064 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The English language has many facets. We fashion our words according to our listeners.
Vernacular or formal, humorous or serious, it is quite an amazing vehicle. To me, it seems the trick is to know when to use the right word.
A message on Twitter, iPhone or other gadget seems to have very short words, and some are shortened beyond what we are used to. I suppose if you used this medium day and night, you would soon be quite proficient at reading that language. It seems very efficient language. But what will it do to the formal language we sometimes need?
There is a rather humorous love story that we like to recite to our friends who know Plautdietsche (formerly known as Low German). It goes like this : (I call it the shortest novel ever written as it has only three sentences).
"Kaust mee liede? Best me gout? Vest me hahn?"
Translation: "Can you stand me near you? Do you love me? Will you take me (as your marriage partner?"
It is short and gets the job done, but you can’t accuse it of being romantic.
Were it published it probably would not sell many copies or give Grace Livingston Hill’s romance novels any competition. We need more words to tickle our fancies and impress our loved ones.
Then there are words like "guy." At school, long ago, some dictionary gave the meaning as "stuffed scarecrow". This morning’s paper called our mayor and his "cronies," or advisors, "guys".
I was surprised that our politicians were called this name. It sounded to me like derision. I could be wrong, not being a politician, or understanding their language.
A number of months ago, a young, enthusiastic song leader tried to get her congregation (60% seniors ) to sing more heartily. She called us "guys".I don’t remember if I did my best to satisfy her. I was too busy trying to decide if I liked to be called a "guy." I was just happy she did not call us "youse guys".
If you are blest with bilingual talents, you have many more meanings and words to choose from in the search for just the right meaning and flavour for your words. It is certainly worth the effort to learn to express yourself well.
To be quite sure, I suppose we should check Emily Post or other, more modern etiquette books, to help us in our world of words.
Bertha Klassen is a community correspondent for Elmwood.