Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Way With Words

You can bet your bottom dollar there isn't a one of us here at V&V who is not enthralled with words...playing with them, poking fun, joking around, turning the phrase and laughing at their pure silliness.  [Don't get me started on how downright serious they can be as well...that's not where I'm going this time.]

On that big 65th birthday weekend (two weeks ago), Astrid and I drove all the way down (on the map, I mean) to
Maastricht, one of Holland's top 5 famous cities.  It so happens to have one of the most unique bookstores in the world, the Selexyz, housed in the above former Dominican church from the 13th century.  [I have mixed feelings about a church being turned into a business, but...this post isn't about that either.  Perhaps there are books you can buy there to redeem itself?]

Turning a phrase, playing with words, puns...and things like
spoonerisms.  I grew up on them with Mom.  Her favorite was the cig bity.  "We're going to the Cig Bity today!"  And that reminds me of my ex-husband who could bring down the house with his rendition of Rindercella and the Prandsom Hince.  When he got to the part where she slopped her dripper, we were crying with laughter.  In the end, of course, it fid dit, and we howled again.

And don't forget terms of endearment and all those sweet nothings we love to hear.  Aforementioned hubby of 21 years often called me his Little Chickadee.  Astrid calls me her Kleine Muis (Little Mouse) AND her Donderkoppie (Thunderhead).  How can one person be so many different endearingly!  Then there's my 34-year-old son whom I always called Palooka.  Now I call his nephew, my grandson, the same thing.

Back in the early 60s I had a short-term acquaintance with a blind girl who got me interested in braille and how to write it.  I bought the brass template and the stylus and started learning the alphabet and short-hand abbreviations for the dot-punched words.  One day, out of the blue, she told me a ditty I have never forgotten (did she first learn it in Braille?):

TB or not TB.
That is the congestion.
Consumption be done about it?
Of cough, of cough,
But it takes a lung, lung time!

Here's the thing:  even in English you can get lost in translation!  So a way with words almost always includes intonation patterns, facial expressions and body language.  You might not understand the entire gist of what someone says but if you can just see their face, you know it's time to laugh.  What happens, however, when the words are written, like here in our blogs?  The other day Toni wrote a post that by all appearances should have been a heart-breaker.  But it didn't take long to figure out it was anything but a sad story.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about, go read it...I won't give it away.)  When Dutch-speaker Astrid read it, however, she didn't get it until I explained it to her.  Lost in translation.  But then she laughed with me.  HAHA!  That was funny.  Brilliant.

Laughter really is the best medicine.  [Who said that?]  Words put in just the right way to brighten the day.  Dr. Seuss had it down pat:  "My shoe is off my foot is cold.  I have a bird I like to hold."  Why did I remember that from everything he wrote?  All those books, all those amazing word combinations to put a smile on our face.  All of them, I assume, in that incredible bookstore in Maastricht!

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