Friday, May 1, 2009

Words ...

Words are funny. I think most of us make up our own pronunciation of words for different reasons. My family has a joke about the word tiger. Awhile back when we had our house on the market, our first realtors (ones we fired later) came in and photographed the house. The very next day, they had the same tiger picture on their website that I have on my bedroom wall. The thing was, they spelled it wrong. Therefore, we now call tigers -- tigars. We have other words, like grils for girls, because the boys always said it that way. Or Bacca for my father-in-law because my daughter couldn't say Grandpa when she was little. People on the outside would probably scratch their heads and wonder what the heck we are talking about. When I was little, I called Neapolitan ice cream -- Napoleon ice cream. Or the time when my daughter misspelled gobble and wrote it as gooble. Some words stick with you forever. Sometimes words are changed in how they're said, or they're misspelled, or they're even misspelled on purpose. We have a sporting goods store here called Snappy's Sport Senter. My boys have an entire language of their own, and even I don't understand it some days. You know those squishy, spiked balls you see everywhere? Those are called yingels -- and God forbid if you say it wrong because you will be corrected!

As writers, words are everything. For novels, a higher word count is important. For picture books, less words are better, but they have to be perfectly chosen. For poetry, words are all about rhyme and meter. I watched an episode of M*A*S*H last night and Charles was reading a letter from Radar's mother. He was making fun of how she pronounced things and Radar corrected him saying, "No, that's how she talks." As a writer, do you find it easy or hard to write in a voice you wouldn't normally talk in? If you're from the north, would it be difficult for you to write your character with a southern accent? It's hard for me not to write the way I speak.

When I was thinking about this, the song Words by Missing Persons came to mind. Remember that old 80s song? I went to You Tube to post it here, but every version of the song has had the embedding disabled. To listen to it, just click here and it will come up. It's more about listening to the words someone has to say, and not so much about my post. But ironically, it was the first thing that came to mind when I started writing this.


  1. OK you have officially stuck that song in my brain. I only know the chorus. :)

  2. I think it's neat to hear people say things different. Some drive me nuts like Peepaw and Meemaw for Grandpa and Grandma or Nana and Papa, but if that is how you grew up then that is the only way you know. LOL @ yingels!


  3. That's so cool that your boys have their own language!
    When I was little we'd speak to each other in gibberish just to drive everyone crazy.
    Words can have a lot of power.

  4. 1. That is a darling picture!
    2. I totally forgot about that 80s song! Man, that singer is tiny!
    3. I love mispronunciations by the lil ones. My 4 yr old can't say his K's (says T) so a lot of times we just pronounce it like him because it sounds so cute.
    Though when an adult mispronounces a word (I've been guilty!), it's hard not to smirk!

  5. It is so true that every family has their own little idiosyncracies. My cousin couldn't say Tracy so I was Dee for years. My son's favourite stuffed animal is a Fox named, of course, Foxy but he couldn't say Foxy it came out Tee and even now it is still called Tee most of the time. (Ryan also used to have trouble with Tr which came out as an F - so you can imagine my horror when he would yell for a truck in Walmart.... people would look shocked at the profanity... until they realized what he was asking for! lol

    Great picture... TOO cute.

  6. Love that picture!

    I think most all families have their own vocabularies. My sister are the "grils" (too) because I'm dyslexic and that's how I spelled it. Neopolitan ice cream was always called polychrome. My husband and I often use Peter Sellers' "French" accent for many of the words he mispronounced in the Pink Panther movies. "Minkey",
    "phoon." Today while we were out getting some garden supplies we decided to get some "pool bins."

  7. We have a lot of those words, too. I love "plello" instead of "pillow". Cool post!

  8. My five-year-old (brilliant in every other way and verbose to a fault) for some reason says "fur" instead of "re" (such as, you change the tv with a furmote, do you furmember how old the cat is, Mimi's dog is a golden furtriever). It's quite amusing, because then she'll turn around and say, "Apparently, I was incorrect in the way I was approaching that" or something like that. She's a character lol.

  9. AHhhh....words...yes. LOTSA fun..especially to make up your own!! =P


  10. Yeah, we have lots of those too. :) For example, one of my sons pronounced bumblebees as "bim-bum-bees". Re: "gril"-- one of my kids' friends refused to eat grilled cheese sandwiches. He didn't want GRIL cheese, he wanted BOY cheese.

  11. Thats so cool about your boys. They sound like sharp kids. Love the picture too.