I can’t remember the first words my daughter uttered. I do remember the clearly enunciated speech with gestures and all. She spoke in tongues and we needed an interpreter. There were no first words but just a wonderfully crafted jargon with inflection. It was painfully hard to write down only about 20 clear words in her vocabulary as she was quickly nearing three. She was no walking dictionary.
As she is mastering language, I realize I too have for my work cut for me. I have yet to master any language . Despite good genes- (some of my family members spoke up to 6 languages fluently) I am still working to speak well and with ease. Sort of sobering when I the parent, am to be a model of well articulated language that will rub off and advance my daughter’s delayed speech. Today, the challenge is to maintain mastery of our native tongue. Though, proper language mastery matters little or has been the outdated way to talk. Just read Facebook or Twitter. Any form of media will give you an idea of the new way to talk.
If you are an “in” talker you must use words certain words in new ways. It is easy to catch on and rub off. I am guilty of speaking like an “in” talker. It is almost like being in the South for awhile when you are original Northerner. It may be like trying out the slang in New York City but originally from Colorado Springs. After awhile, you take on the talk. Listen to any “In” talker and you are tempted to talk the same way or be totally irritated by the fast paced haphazard poetic licensing of words. Words used in unusual ways. Words spoken in places that surprise and puzzle me.
Recently I was just at the beauty salon. Way back when you might hear the lady next to you getting her hair done say “A shampoo and set will be sufficient.” Sounds like the Queen of England no? I hear the lady next to me say the word “like” 19 times. “I am like so tired of my hair, it like gets too frizzy and I am like not ready to like spend a whole lot of time on it so I like need a really easy like style. The one “like” necessary is in the last sentence. “Like” has sure gained popularity- maybe even more than awesome.
People at the beauty salon tell their life story. I imagine conversations taking place at a salon in NYC might sound like this-“So I says to Flo , I says Flo… you gotta add some body to your hair, it will look glamorous. “The hairdresser responds- “You are so right, I was just thinkin that the other day. Sounds like the Queen England with a twist.” They mind their grammar but there is style . This is what I said to my hair lady: “I have to wet my hair in the morning even if I have already washed it. the night before. Otherwise, it will be very frizzy.
“I know right.” she responds.
This confuses me. I know right? After thinking it over, this means, I agree. I suppose.
There is the frequent overblown use of the word “Seriously”. The customer says “I would like to take five inches off. ” The stylist says “Seriously? I seriously think that would seriously be a mistake. ” I wonder if the sentence ” We are getting very seriously thinking of dying my hair blond is still accepted? (Seriously, I remain a brunette forever. Until I seriously let the gray take over.
Some sit down and tell their stylist: “I so need a color. It’s so past the time. ” Or how about..” I so need that new curl gel.” No longer is it “I told you so” or “I’m so very glad to meet you or even “I am so tired.” It’s the word used for entitlement and emphasis.
The word “perfect” has given the word “awesome” competition. “Perfect I have you down for three o’clock on Wednesday. ” No longer is it “This fits perfectly.” But it’s more the verbal response you get from offering your credit card- “Perfect”. Perhaps just a way of showing an upbeat positive attitude about everything from finding your other earring to winning the lottery?
All in all I figure I am feeling a little like Henry Higgins. “Why can’t we learn to speak? Set a good example. ” Is that we all need to marbles in our mouths, practice blowing out candles, and say tongue twisters over and over again to bring us back to the basics? It’s what turned Eliza Doolittle into a real lady that even fooled the Queen. Do we need a dictionary from Noah Webster himself to review all the parts of speech and articles? Do we adapt, change, and go with it and just say “whatever!” In the meantime, my daughter gets the remediation and the therapy. We are ALL learning to speak.