Monday, January 26, 2009

The Evolution of the English Language

The evolution of the English language is something that has always fascinated me. (I have an almost equal fascination for the French language which resists evolution and much as English embraces it.) Every year, when I hear the news blurb about which new words made it into the dictionary, my ears perk up.

I'm just wing nut like that.

Did you know that the words edamame, kiteboarding, pescatarian, prosecco, subprime, mental health day, and yes, wing nut, were added in 2008?

I have a couple of new words to propose. I don't think they have been in use very long, but I think they would be at least as popular as the new phrase also entered into the Webster dictionary in 2008: air quotes.

I came across these new phrases as I was riding in the car. We were going from one basketball game to another. In addition to my entire family, we had a teammate of my oldest son. My son for some reason started to question this new friend on his parents' marital status. He figured out his friend's parents didn't live together, so he asked, in the casual way that only kids can, if his parents were divorced.

This is the awkward moment when as a parent you want to: 1. Create a distraction (Oh look, is that a Ferrari?), 2. Tell your kid to shut up and not be so nosy, and 3. You actually really want to hear the answer.

The friend answered with a definite "No!"

Well this did not satisfy my son at all. How to explain the living arrangements? He probed some more.

Now even my husband was getting uncomfortable with the line of questioning and the audience listening. He whispered to me to do something. I don't know why he didn't come up with the Ferrari line. Just as I was about to distract the conversation, the friend started on an explanation. And I wanted to hear it.

He said his parents are taking a break. "Huh?" my oldest son says. My husband starts to clarify and say, "Sometimes adults call it a separation." The friend says, "Yeah. It's like they are de-married. Or ma-vorced."

That explained it all perfectly.

So I propose two new words to Webster's, given to me by a 12-year-old.
1. demarried: away from the state of marriage, also denotes removal or reversal of marriage
2. mavorced: a coexistence of marriage and divorce

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Urine Mystery

No this is not a post on bedwetting.

My oldest son had an assignment this week to write a mystery story. He is reading a mystery in class, and he is reading mysteries for fun. In fact, one recent book prevented him from falling asleep until very very late on a school night, so we had to agree that reading scary mysteries at night when you have an overactive imagination is not a very good idea.

He handed me a copy of his mystery to read aloud tonight. It really made me chuckle with attempts at foreshadowing, diversion, motive, clues, and dialogue between a French detective and various other characters named after sports figures. It has an arbitrary hand grenade, a thing somehow deemed so essential to an exciting plot that boys try to insert it in any story. The story also features boy-style humor, created by using the word urine as many times as possible. The suspects are a urinary doctor, a sales executive, and a professional cricket player. Hmm, who could it be? The story abruptly ends with the French detective shouting "I know who did it!" but the reader is not so sure who did it or even really exactly what they did. Seeing what must have been my confused expression upon finishing the story, my son said, "Well Mom, he's the only one who COULD have done it."

After re-reading the ending, I discover that surprisingly, the urinary doctor did it, and by the way, his office smelled horribly of urine. I think, but I am not entirely sure, that it is a happy coincidence that the detective places the doctor under arrest with a relieved expression on his face.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One Dozen

A dozen eggs, a dozen donuts. But a dozen years? Yikes! My oldest son turned twelve just before Christmas. He is officially a 'tweener now. He no longer has to take fluoride supplements (our water is not fluoridated for some stupid reason), and he can sit in the front seat in the car. Consultation with the orthodontist coming up. According to movie ratings he is ready for more mature content. He is getting a few crazy emails from girls who are proclaiming their love for him. For example, "I really really like you. God this is so embarrassing, please don't say anything to me at school."

And in a strange twist of fate, I just got in contact on Facebook with my first boyfriend I started dating when I was twelve or thirteen. I remember that time as a whole lot of fun and quite exciting. I'm pretty sure my mom didn't feel that way. And as a parent of a newly minted teenager, I don't think I'll be feeling the fun and excitement so much either.

One thing I'm very glad of, my proclamations of love and the replies to it were on pieces of pastel notepaper emblazoned with rainbows passed to each other via friends, not on email. My parents could only read them if I left them in the pocket of my Dittos and put them in the laundry.