Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Is It Really All Good??

“It is what it is.”  (But can’t it change?)  “It’s all good.”  (I’ve mentioned this one before.  No, it’s not necessarily all good even though you tell me it is.)

These are among other weird sayings of this decade.  I can hear you replying, “I know, right?”  But what do we even call this decade?  I only recently learned that the first ten years of the 2000’s were called the “noughties.”  Really?

For that matter, these past twelve years – and longer – have been about learning English all over again.  After 26 years of gradually introducing new Spanish vocabulary to my mental dictionary, random English words have begun deleting themselves at will.

Do you tend to import words into your English vocabulary from your host country’s language?  In the middle of speaking English back home (in Oaxaca), we use words like “tope” (i.e.:  “Slow down!  There’s a tope up ahead.”) and “bodega” (like “Run out to the bodega and bring me a rake por fa.”)  Oh, and “por fa” as a slang version of por favor.

When I come to the U.S. I find myself stumbling over words I seldom need in English, words I have substituted with Spanish for too many years.  FYI, in case you are wracking your brain like I was, tope is a speed bump in English, and bodega is storeroom.

As if it isn’t enough to tax an unquestioningly aging brain, certain words and phrases I do happen to remember in English are no longer acceptable in polite society.  PC is not a personal computer, as I was once taught, but something to dread and respect.

And as if our teenaged TCKs don’t have enough to worry about “doing wrong” in American culture, now they have to watch what they say.  Just because Mom has always said it back home doesn’t mean it is okay to say in public.  We hypocrites used to tell our children, “Do as I say, not as I do.”  Now we have to add, “…but for heaven’s sake, don’t say as I say; it might not be politically correct any more.”

You probably already know this, but we now call tree-huggers “environmental activists,” while waiters and waitresses are “servers,” and airline stewardesses are “flight attendants.”  Only indiscreet old folks youthfully-challenged people would say differently.

Here are some more PC terms I found on a website too noughty and naughty to recommend here:

Women no longer get PMS; they are now “hormonally homicidal.”
Women don’t gain weight; they are “metabolic underachievers.”

Did you know we must no longer refer to people who can’t read as illiterate?  No, no, no, no, no.  They are non-literate.  I was corrected back in the noughties when I accidentally, thoughtlessly, and carelessly wrote in a prayer letter that we are reaching out to illiterate people.  (If you are among the non-literate people who were offended when you read that letter, I submit my deepest regret and apologies.)

It takes time to erase terms from this worn-out memory bank, so forgive me when I lapse into old lingo no longer deemed appropriate. 

Hopefully by the time we reach the twenties, I’ll have these PC monikers mastered, even though by then we’ll have new slangy idioms like “it was what is was.”

IRL*  It’s not a matter of simply restoring the memory, but upgrading the whole system.


  1. Your post made me laugh! I learn all kinds of new English words from my KIDS. I've got to go ask them now what a "moniker" is! Second time this week I've seen that word on-line!!


    1. Yeah, even moniker is a new word, isn't it?

  2. we all speak "franglais" here... and it is recognized as its own language! :-)

  3. So glad I am not the only one who seems to struggle with English after learning Spanish. We love to speak English with Spanish words thrown in as well. Sometimes because we can´t remember the English work and sometimes it fits the spot just so much better! Seems like my English spelling has really suffered as well, maybe because in Spanish spelling is so easy, just spell it the way it sounds!

    Glad you made it back safely from your trip!

    1. Thanks, Rachel. I'm back home and enjoying getting settled again.

      Oh, yeah, the spelling is a whole 'nother issue. Why do we have so many double consonants in English when one works just fine in Spanish? The trouble is that both "look" equally correct to my eye now, so I have to rely on spell-check to tell me if it's really wrong.

  4. There are a handful of Swahili words that have definitely, permanently, imbedded themselves in my vocabulary. What is hilarious is that it's so bad that not only do my family and closest friends in American know those words, but occasionally my best friend in the USA will tell me "Pole!" (pronounced polay) which means sorry when I share something bad that has happened!


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