Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Art of Mis-Communication

In 1887 a gentleman by the name of L.L. Zamenhof invented a new language called Esperanto. He had hoped that every nation in the world would learn this second language and all would therefore be on a level playing field. Well we know how that turned out!

Have you ever wondered how languages develop and why certain words mean one thing in one language and something totally different in another? Take English spoken in England and America. George Bernard Shaw said “England and America are two countries divided by a common language”…My how true that is.

When I came to this country I used a lot of words that meant something totally different.

Even simple everyday words tripped me up. I mean try asking for a spanner when you mean a wrench, turning on the tap and not the faucet, a car hood is a bonnet and is the loo really called the john here?

There are words here that people say that I sort of cringe at… for instance, I have heard people refer to others as little buggers. Well I would never be able to say that as it really is a swear word to me! Also the word sod here means grass and across the pond it is not a very polite word to call someone!

I think my favourite recollection, when I first came here, is when my newlywed husband asked me for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I looked at him like he was crazy…did he really want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? He assured me he did and being the new little wife I dutifully made him one! Well the word jelly in England means Jello not a form of jam! Yes you guessed it I made him one of the best peanut butter and lime Jello sandwiches you have ever seen….probably the only one ever seen! What did my husband do? He proceeded to eat it and then explain to me that it was not quite what he had in mind! It is 35 years later and we still laugh over that one!

My husband-to-be stayed used to stay at a friend’s house while we were dating (hey it was 1965 and I was 18 and innocent) and I used to wake him up in the morning so we could go out together…It took me the longest time to figure out why he would laugh hysterically when I would ask him what time he wanted knocking up in the morning? I honestly had no idea that it did not mean to wake someone up!

I had an acquaintance one time cause a rather noisy bar to go completely quiet when she told a friend who was feeling down to keep his pe*ker up, which to her meant keep your chin up! The look on her face was priceless when someone explained what she had said…I guess you can turn 10 shades of red!

Now even in the Clay fandom we have are own words and some of them mean something very different in the “real” world. For instance take the words thud, anomaly, shuttle and of course the infamous Waldo! We also have our own acronyms and contractions for all sorts of things. At times it feels we are speaking another language that anyone who is not on the “Claytrain” would never understand. We all know what Clack, JBT, JNT2 and NaT mean but have you ever found yourself using those words and getting blank stares and then you realise that people have no idea what you just said? Non-fans think we are crazy..err…enthusiastic but now we have a language all of our own . Even Clay Aiken has uttered the words “God forbid the Clack skip around” and “Yeah I know your words!” I guess he never thought that, in his wildest dreams, he would have his own republic, nation and now his own language. I think L.L. Zamenhof would be proud. Of course as usual YMMV. Hee

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beauzzartz said...

Merrie! What a delightful blog!

When I was in high school a Brazilian exchange student stayed with us for a year. She would blush furiously everytime one of us mentioned our car. "You need to wash the pinto", "the pinto is getting an oil change". It didn't matter what we said, she always looked mortified anytime we mentioned our car. Turns out "pinto" was portuguese for (sv)"tiny pee-nus".{/sv}

CB said...

Yeah, I got a laugh the other day when I referred to us as "the fandom". Sort of like when we all thought he sang The Kingdom of Do Me when he did the Fantasy performance.

Michi said...

OMG - so funny and your husband is certainly a keeper. I am surprised he could stomache a peanut butter and lime jello sandwich!

I had to laugh when Clay came to Interlochen last summer and they had the customary write up in the program and it mentioned the Not A Tour - a named coined by the fans the summer before because we were told he wasn't doing a tour that year - just a few dates. Turned out he was so sought out that it did become quite the "non" tour.

Of course, having worked in law enforcement for 17 years I started talking in ancronyms and had a lot of people looking at me like I was speaking another language.

Good prep for being a Clay fan!

The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

What a great blog Merrie. I simply can't imagine anything more horrible than peanut butter and lime jello sandwich. What a trouper your husband is.

I love in Harry Potter when they are always saying "Wicked". I want to adopt that slang. Clay Aiken is Wicked.

myclaystation said...

Merrie, wonderful blog. I had a friend looking at some of my Clay photos on the computer the other day and she asked me what does "Gah" mean. I told her it was synonymous with "Guh". She looked at me like I was crazy. LOL

I agree conclaye-nan...I love it when Ron says "wicked". Great expression.

Shell said...

I enjoyed your blog. It's funny how the words your listed that the fandom uses just seem so natural to say. I can just imagine the looks people would give me if I happened to use them in a conversation. at work.

theresa4624 said...

Great blog merrie! When I was in high school, there was a girl from England in my class. One day during one of those "#2 pencil tests", she asked the whole class, quite loudly ---- "Does anyone have a rubber?" You can imagine the reactions from a bunch of 17 and 18 year old high school students.

P.S. -- she wanted an eraser.

Anonymous said...

Hey, cb, do you mean he didn't really sing about the Kingdom of Do Me? No wonder I haven't been able to get my application for citizenship to his Kingdom approved! That's one country of which I'd really love to be a loyal citizen.

TheClayBlog said...

OMG, I laughed out loud at your stories!!!

It's ture, we are enthusiastic and we have our own language. I like it!

~ YSRN ~ said...

Hee, Merrieee. That sandwich sounds disgusting! I can't believe he ate it. But I can believe you still laugh about it.

One night I was on AIM with Kavanaugh. She kept telling me she was pissed. I kept asking why? She just mentioned the wine... while I STILL tried to pry out of her why she was so angry. Heh.

Loved your blog!

Clay Aiken is Wicked Hot!

Pink Armchair said...

This was great! My sister has been with a British partner for about a year now, and I've noticing a lot of Britishisms creeping into her speech--"tea" for "supper," "chemist" for "drugstore," "lift" for "elevator," "lorry" for "truck"--just to name a few. Personally, I think the Britishisms are a lot cuter than what we Yanks customarily say. I really enjoyed this.