Do You Speak Anglish?

When I was teaching high school English, one of the mottos of my classroom was “The best language is the language that gets the job done.” What I wanted my students to understand was that, while one of the goals of the class was to teach students formal English, informal English was also an important element of one’s everyday experience. Although formal English would be necessary when interviewing for a job or making a presentation, formal English spoken outside on the campus or at a social with one’s peers could be awkward and stilted. Therefore, rather than learning just formal English, it was necessary to learn when to apply the appropriate language to different experiences and situations. While I didn’t require that my students learn black English, I taught them that there was such a thing and let some of the black kids talk black English to each other, using terms that the white kids did not understand but which were understood readily by other black students. I also taught my students that our language originated from the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. It was the Angles who dominated those three tribes, and it was their language that became ours. Only country folks would call our language “Anglish,” but that’s where the name English originated, sho’ nuff.

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Here We Go Again

Can you believe that 2018 is all but gone? I had my 80th birthday in March. MiraLax became an item I searched for when I ordered my over-the-counter medicines from my health care provider: Humana. Downtown Auto, the auto repair service I had used for years, closed its doors. In February, Dimitris and I did a very enjoyable cruise in the Caribbean. Then there was the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida. I learned that the chief naval officer who mentored me when I was a young seaman had died as a pastor in Hawaii. We had our house painted. In September, I accompanied my Greek partner to Athens. During that stay, we spent several days on the Greek island of Kos and in the city of Bucharest, Romania. How could I summarize 2018 without mentioning the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who scared me with his notorious tweets and challenges to the system that has guided us since the beginning of our country?
2019

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Hard Words

As a retired English teacher, I must be careful in my writings as it is assumed that a teacher never makes a “word” mistake–word choice or word spelling. I would say that I am probably a pretty good speller, having loved participating in spelling bees when I was young. However, I must confess to some egregious mistakes. I just learned, thanks to the spell checker on my computer, that the preferred spelling of “now-a-days” is without the hyphens. I am in the process of correcting the use of that word in my journals and blogs. Although I have been involved with music most of my life, I realized a short time ago that I was misspelling “cantata.” I was spelling it “contata,” despite my having studied Latin which should have told me that “cant” has to do with music. Not only have I been involved with music, but I have been involved with church music, either as a choir director, pianist, or organist. How could a church musician misspell “offertory?” I was giving it an “a” between the “r” and “t.” I have two words that are buried so deeply in my brain that they will never pop up when I want them–topiary and funicular. This morning, I was reading in a novel and came across the word “bucolic.” I remembered the definition from a vocabulary list I used with my high school students. Reader, you will have to assess the grade that I get on “hard words.”

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Traditions

When I think of tradition, I think of “Fiddler on the Roof” where the main character guides his family through the Jewish traditions that have lasted for generations. Now in the 21st century we celebrate many traditions such as observing Christmas, celebrating the 4th of July, throwing rice at a wedding, eating turkey on Thanksgiving. I did not grow up in a family that had very many traditions although I do remember having reunions every once in a while where we learned about the Cooper/Bobo traditions. The Bobo name came from my paternal grandmother whose maiden name was Clara Bobo. That’s how I inherited the name Thomas Bobo Cooper. Because I was embarrassed by the Bobo, I was glad it was tucked in the middle and out of sight. Today, Dimitris and I have a few traditions. We go to Spinners to celebrate our anniversary. We go to church every Sunday morning that we are in town. One very important tradition is our visit every Friday afternoon to Taco Bell where he eats two shredded chicken burritos, and I have a Mexican pizza. We’ll see you there at noon today. I love traditions, especially food traditions.

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Florida Dreams

I remember dreaming of a Florida Christmas. At the time, I was sixteen years old and living in Clinton, South Carolina. The nearest thing to my being in Florida was that I had gone to Florida Street Elementary School. In high school, my classmates and I were fascinated when we had a new student entering our class. His name was Philip Roddy, and he was from St. Petersburg, Florida. To me, he was a fascinating person from “outer space.” I was sure that he must have cried his eyeballs out when his folks told him they were moving from St. Petersburg to Clinton. He must have been terribly upset, having lived his life in “paradise.” Now, it is Christmas, and I am living in St. Petersburg and have been living here since 1965. Surprisingly, I have been to the beaches only rarely. St. Pete is tropical, but it is not exactly paradise, especially when the temperature dips into the 60s. Before you think I don’t like living here in west-central Florida, I must reassure you that I have never regretted moving to St. Petersburg.

Merry Christmas

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Weather, or Not

I am a weather nut. I should have studied to be a meteorologist as I am fascinated with weather, weather patterns, global warming. Mainly, though I enjoy just keeping up with the local weather, especially when it’s not just the usual “continued partly cloudy” or “little change.” Because I am drawn to things relating to the weather, I possessed for years an Oregon Scientific weather station. It would keep track of the rainfall and the outside temperature. I checked on it continually when it was raining, watching the rainfall amount climb. Recently, my Oregon rain gauge failed, blinking off and on without showing the amount of rainfall. Dimitris knows how much I enjoy weather watching so he gave me a new system as a Christmas present, one that measures not only rainfall but barometric pressure, wind direction and speed, humidity, and dew point. Now, I really feel official. If only Roy Leep, the Channel 13 weatherman who first got me interested in weather, were still around. He would be celebrating with me for checking on the weather.

Weather Station

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Filling in the Gaps (repeat)

One of the most used words in a social context is the word “sincere.” We have traditionally used it as a complimentary close in personal and business letters. It’s meaning is clear. The use of the word means that you are not being false in any way but are writing, in the case of a letter, with no hidden intent. In other words, you mean what you say. The same applies to the oral use of this word. When someone says they sincerely believe that they are going to be successful, they truly believe it. I learned years ago, certainly before I read about it in Dan Brown’s novel, The Lost Symbol, that this word takes on even more clarity when its derivation is revealed. “Sincere” is derived from two Latin words: “sine,” meaning without, and “cera,” the Latin word for wax. It seems that, in the days of Roman and Greek classical architecture, some columns were made of wood. The more expensive the wood, the fewer flaws or holes it contained, caused by decay or insects. However, in order to conceal some of the flaws of imperfect wood, wax was sometimes poured into the holes so that the wood would appear to without any flaws. Therefore, the perfect wood columns were sine cera, without wax, and therefore more stable and worthy of the classicism they illustrated. Would that we could count on the “sincerity” of many of today’s politicians who are known to campaign quite insincerely, “waxing eloquent.”

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