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100 random things that make me happy: #7

Today I was watching a History Channel show about various American dialects and checking out the dictionary.com app's word of the day when it hit me. Language makes me happy. I've often thought that in another life I'd have been a linguist most cunning (sorry, sorry...I just couldn't resist). But seriously, I love languages. It thrills me to learn a new word, to discover the etymology of a familiar term, see artfully fashioned turns of phrase or clever, clever puns. I like to dabble in foreign tongues - improve my Spanish,  learn to count to 10 in some obscure vernacular - but I love my native tongue too. 
English is such a versatile and rich language. We appropriate words willy-nilly from other languages and make them our own. We verb nouns, noun verbs, adjectivetize anything...and make up words ad lib, 'cause we can with all the Latin and Greek bits and pieces that are just made to mix and match....or maybe that's just me.  Anyway, the way English is used is so diverse with vocabulary and pronunciation differing from region to region, much less from one English speaking nation to another. It makes me smile to hear a Britishism or some Canadian slang. I love an interesting accent or a cute colloquialism.  It makes me giggle when folks appropriate a word from another region and adopt it into their own parlance, as I often do. "Y'all" is an excellent example (and another topic altogether). 
I was just thinking the other night how amazing it is that we can use language - sounds represented by a series of little lines - to share complex ideas and create intricate images that transcend time or place. And that makes me happy.  


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
Goerge Bernard Shaw said that the UK and USA were '...nations deoivide by a common language'! And it's as true in the twenty-first century as it was in the twentieth. And it's true to say that each region, even within the small nation of the UK, there are many diverse colloquialisms!

I like language...of course I do...but I don't think I would eulogise it quite as much as you do. Having read your travleogues I do know that you write with a wonderful knack for description, choosing your words so carefully as to give the reader the feeling that they are seeing what you see!
Jun. 22nd, 2012 02:51 am (UTC)
Too true! Even individual states in the US have regions with differing idioms and accents. It's amazing.

Thanks so much for the kind words, dear. I'm a very visually oriented person and for me words are pictures.
Jun. 16th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
Seconded to the nth. As a writer, I am so lucky to be familiar with this wonderful gift I've been given, to have English as my mother tongue; but language in general, in the abstract, is indeed a thing of such power that in our everyday lives, using it all the time, we don't take enough notice of.
Jun. 22nd, 2012 02:57 am (UTC)
I think English must be such a difficult language to learn for non-native speakers...it's so complex and the rules are so inconsistent. But it is a thing of beauty.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 22nd, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
I would love to go with you next time, bb. :-)

I love regional dialects and accents. There are so many good Southernisms, but y'all is by far the best. I kinda wish it was accepted English 'cause we need a good plural you, but you're right - it does kinda weird me out when people in other parts of the country use it. It's ours, just like sweet tea. ;-)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )