The Linguistics of Relationships

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Recently my boyfriend got new bathmats for his bathroom. This is good, because the old one was getting kind of manky. It was white. I disagree vehemently with white things for the house. They get dirty easily. Rather, they show dirt easily, and, when it comes to cleaning, I’m a lazy bitch.

His new mats are black, round, soft, and decidedly not-manky. There are two of them, overlapping like a Venn diagram. (“This mat is wet, this is dry, and where they meet they are both wet and dry.” —Venn, the most boring kid ever.)

Me: You have new thingies in front of the shower. They’re nice.
Mr. Katje: New showermats, yeah.
Me: …new what?
Mr. Katje: Showermats. Mats for the shower.
Me: You mean bathmats.
Mr. Katje: No, because there’s no bath. There’s a shower. Showermats.
Me: …the word bath doesn’t…that’s not…argh. There’s no tub, but there is a bathing space in the bathroom, and the mats go in front of the bathing space. Hence, bathmats.
Mr. Katje: No. Showermats. We shower. We don’t take baths.
Me: We bathe in the shower, which is in the bathroom. Bathmats.
Mr. Katje: You’re wrong. We don’t bathe in the shower; we shower in the shower.
Me: (sighing and giving up) Yes, dear.

I may outwardly capitulate for his sake, but I know I’m right. So does Firefox’s spell-check — it recognizes bathmats as a word, but not showermats. Obviously I’m correct.

(Whenever we spawn little amoeba-kittens, I’m going to have to be proactive so they don’t pick up his weird language. “Remember, kids, daddy is silly.”)

In other news, I’m participating in Fat Mum Slim‘s October Photo A Day Challenge. You can see the posts on my tumblr, with the tag #FMSPhotoADay. (I may put up some here, too.) If you’re into photo-taking, why not give it a try yourself? Definitely peruse the hashtag on tumblr and Twitter to see everyone’s contributions (you can also search the hashtag on the Instagram app).

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In defense of “Y’all”

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I’ve noticed that people seem to hold a lot of vitriol and hatred of the term y’all. I can only assume this stems from the belief that if you have a U.S. Southern accent, you’re automatically less intelligent than the rest of the country and/or world, therefore using words like y’all mark you as less-than by intellectual elitists.

Well, I am an intellectual elitist, and I think the word y’all is just fine. I also don’t believe that a Southern accent automatically makes someone stupid, which makes me a bit of a pariah in elitist circles.

We need more gender-neutral terms in our language. Everything is so male-dominated — people won’t blink at saying “You guys” for mixed-gender groups of people, but say “You gals” and suddenly you’re emasculating every dude in the room. “You dudes” is another term. “Hey bros.” We may throw women a bone by saying “Hey dudes and dudettes/bros and ladybros,” but you’ll notice that doesn’t happen very often. (And the words are basically just the same, with a suffix or prefix tacked on. Don’t even get me started on -ette being a diminutive.)

Yet saying “You all” seems strange, and stilted. If I try to say “You all” as two separate words, I end up saying “You all — all of you — all the people I’m talking you — you all — whatever, just come over here.” As a contraction, however, it’s much smoother, much shorter, and gender-neutral. “Hey y’all, come over here for a second.”

I mean, really, what else can you ask for? It’s perfect for everyday use. I don’t understand why people think it should be limited to the Jason Stackhouses of the world, or that using it makes you less-than. It doesn’t. Southern accents don’t make you less-than. There are tons of smart people with Southern accents, and tons of stupid people without. Dear gods, folks, stop with the hatred of people just because they come from a certain region.

And anyway, nothing sounds stupider than “Youse guys.”

Adopting words: senticous

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Now, this is really a great word if you’re looking for the perfect word to describe a cat, or a cactus, or a briar patch, or someone who’s rather harsh. The word is senticous — what does it mean? Read below. 

senticous

adj. 1657

: prickly, thorny

He pricked himself on a senticous bush as he searched about for his golf ball.

The Phrontistery says this word was in use for one year — 1657.  I can’t find much else on it. 

I’ve used this word many times already — mainly to describe my mood. It works perfectly. Give it a try!

Adopting words: bimarian

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For this week of lovey-dovey-ness and emotions running high, I thought I’d save a word that has to do with the sea. In several different schools of thought (not all, but definitely Western ones) water and emotions are connected. Even the words for sea and love in Latin — mare and amare — are similar. 

 

bimarian

 

adj. 1731

pertaining to two seas

Sentence: My travels have been mainly bimarian, but I would like to see more than just the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.


 

Phrontistery says this word was in usage for just one year, but it’s such a great word I’m sure we can bring it back.

Adopting Words: amandation

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This weeks word is “amandation”! It probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. Keep on reading to learn more!

amandation

n. 1656 – 1755

act of sending away, dispelling, dismissing

Sample sentence:  Tony’s curt amandation of his guests earned him a reputation for being a nasty jerk
Phrontistery lists this word as being used for 99 years — from 1656 to 1755. I can’t find it in the OED but it may be related to Amanda
fem. proper name, lit. “worthy to be loved,” fem. of L. amandus, ger. of amare “to love” (see Amy).
If so, it’s interesting to note the almost polar differences between the two words. 
UPDATE: A reader, Minnesotastan, pointed me to a much more likely word relation: mandate.  Mandate means “an order” and a means “away” (apathy, atheist, etc) — to order away. Sounds much more likely than any connection to “amanda”.

Adopting Words: vanmost

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Huh? How can you adopt a word?

Well, you may not realize this, but dictionaries are only receptacles of words that are in common usage. The less we use those words, the less likely it is they will be included — and thus are dropped from the dictionary and our vocabularies.

There are some great words out there. Just check out Save the Words if you don’t believe me.

I’ve adopted a word today, and I’m going to blog about it. I’ll do this again, when I adopt a new word. And then I’ll use these words in my everyday communication. Hopefully I’ll help to save them.

vanmost

adv., 1865

in the front; foremost

Sample sentence: Her health was vanmost on her list of priorities. 

According to The Phrontistery vanmost was only in use for one year — 1865. I wasn’t able to find vanmost on the Online Etymology Dictionary, but I did find vanguard:

c.1450, vaunt garde, from M.Fr. avant-garde, from avant “in front” + garde “guard.” Communist revolutionary sense is recorded from 1928.

And I’m quite sure the two words are related through “van”. 

 

Well, that’s it for today. Be sure to tune in next week for another word to bring back to common usage! 

Good luck, and good night. 

-Katje van Loon