Friday, January 2, 2009

Turning Over a New Lexicon - Kelly

Hello, everyone. I'm thrilled and humbled to be here!

The Lithia Writers can back me up on this one: I am not stodgy. I will say just about anything to anyone anywhere at anytime (though I promise to keep my LWC posts PG-13).

That said, however, I also believe that certain niceties should be observed, and right at the top of the list is Standard English When Appropriate. I toss around slang and, um, colorful diction all the time but I do my best to be cognizant of my audience. And one thing I guard against is the linguistic equivalent of “mutton dressed as lamb.” Nothing is more cringe-worthy than a middle-aged teacher trying to hang with the peeps. Writ small, u will not c me l8er. As a neophyte texter, I faced a dilemma every time I whipped out my thumbs. Character limits forced me to send three messages to every student’s one. And since it took me forever to figure out how to coax an apostrophe from my non-QWERTY device, I wrote without contractions for months.

Eventually I loosened up a bit, but only to a small circle. 

My peeps, u no.

When I teach, my students are usually veterans of the AP wars; they write shell-shocked, stilted, voiceless prose and I must help them loosen not tighten their diction. But I still want things right, damn it.

So when I finally became a mother, those who’d known me for big chunks of the 41 years it took me to breed braced themselves for the birth not only of a girl child but also of a fire-breathing perfectionist bitch of a mother… Joan Crawford with The MLA Handbook.

But just as ligaments and tendons loosen to allow a baby’s body to pass through a small space, my rigidity collapsed in the presence of my daughter’s linguistic development. While an adult mispronouncing a word usually sends me running for the Xanax, I was fascinated by the organic process in which she sussed out verb tenses and found her "r" and "l." But I’m still a perfectionist on the inside, and her spelling is another story altogether. Maybe I’ll come back to that in another post, after enduring homework thanks to a couple of glasses of Oregon pinot noir. A commentator on NPR recently urged listeners to accept the reality that “thru” and “nite” may well become standard spellings in 10 years.


But motherhood has relaxed me. It’s made me a more patient, process oriented teacher and a more self-forgiving writer (which is a good thing, considering that this post ended up in Chicago when I was headed for Providence, but oh, well…). My daughter has taught me more about Being, Impermanence, Suffering, and Life than any wall of texts could. She’s also inspired me and made me laugh.

And she’s a princess of neology.

I’d refer to her as a “neologist,” but Merriam-Webster Unabridged hasn’t extended its definition yet. So as my initial contribution to Lithia Writers’ Collective, I offer you two new words, courtesy of Anna Elizabeth Hudgins, age eight for six more days.

Snoreful: one who snores noticeably. “Mommy, Kaiser's such a snoreful dog.”
Braggative: someone (most often a third grade girl, but you never know….) who seems to think she’s awfully special. “Mommy, Narcissa’s nice, but she’s kind of braggative sometimes.”

Use these with pleasure, and happiest of Januarys to you all,


Christy Raedeke said...

Ah, it's so nice to have you back. Reading your work is like walking through a hedge maze without ever running into a wall. Lovely.

jennie said...

(Heart) the new vocab(ulary)!

Kelly Hudgins said...

Thanks to you both!

Feels good to be cyberhome.

Anonymous said...

Your post was not snoreful!