Words … All Messed Up

For as much as I adore the English language, I can butcher it with the best of them. It usually happens that just as I’m in the middle of saying something really dumb, I hear it in my head and at that point, I can no longer back away from it.

I’ve told you before that my mother had a huge vocabulary, but one of her favorite things to do with that vocabulary was splice it up, put it back together, and come up with something new. Now, Shakespeare could get away with that … he was a famous playwright. Mom’s words just got her naive children in trouble.

Like the time I was standing in front of my highly-educated handbell choir, directing a rehearsal. The conversation moved to what authors we were reading (yeah, we took too many breaks, but they were just that good). I announced that I was reading a book by Fletcher Knebel. But I was halfway through his last name when some of the ladies started laughing and it hit me that I’d pronounced it kuh-nee-buhl, instead of using the silent ‘k.’ Because … yes, you guessed it … Mom. She did it as a lark. She also pronounced knife – kuh-nife. At least I could self-correct when it came to asking for the sharp utensil.

Or rhinoceros. If I don’t focus, I’m well into the second syllable before I realize I have to start over or stop right away. Mom pronounced it ri-no-sore’-ass. Pronounce it in your head the correct way … that second syllable is a short ‘o’, not long. If you shorten it to rhino, you use the long ‘o’ sound. Well, mom’s way uses the long ‘o’ sound and from there on out, you’re just in trouble. And let me tell you, if I’m talking about rhinos, most of them have a flaming red hind end.

My sister sees the world differently and this usually comes out in what she says. This is another girl who has a huge vocabulary, but she mixes it up without knowing why. Not her words, but her phrases and sentences. We teased her mercilessly because what she said was just that funny. One day my dad put the snowblower into the van to clear a large space at a local lake (pond) for the youth group to do some ice skating. Carol insisted he was blow-drying the lake. That’s what she saw in her head. Or the time she asked how much a 49 cent coke cost at McDonald’s. It took a few moments to figure out that she was asking which size was being sold for 49 cents (yeah, that was a long time ago – it was a medium coke).

Last night as I was writing, I insisted that a word was correct. However, spell check insisted I was wrong. I love having access to a dictionary online. Oh, was I wrong. No matter what I wanted, indignance is not a word – indignation was just not what I was looking for, but I needed to give it up. I re-wrote the sentence.

We all have our stories about language – from screwing up words because we speak too quickly, to those words we never really learned, to discovering surprising meanings to words we’d always used one way … on and on.

Anyway … do you have a favorite story about your personal language mess-ups?

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Business Stuff

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The short stories are published in the paperback they are closest to. For instance, book 16 also contains #16.5 – stuff like that, there. The only thing not available in paperback are the vignettes. I don’t know that they ever will be. They’re awfully short and can be found on the website, in back issues of newsletters, and yes, on Kindle.

BOXED SETS. I’ve had several queries about when I’m going to build a third (fourth, fifth) boxed set for the series. That’s a good question. I know that twenty books is a lot to absorb if you’re just getting started, and yes, I will continue to build out boxed sets, but I don’t really have those set into a schedule. Will the third one hit in 2018? Probably. When? I can’t be sure. I’m sorry that I don’t have more precise information for you right now.

I’ll keep saying it over and over – thank you for being part of this crazy little world I spin. I’m so thankful that I have this chance to get to know you. What an incredible blessing you are to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully express my gratitude for the time and care you give to me.

33 thoughts on “Words … All Messed Up

  1. Peg Adams

    Ours were messed up song lyrics, mostly! Remember the Creedence Clearwater Revival song–we always thought they sang “there’s a bathroom on the right” instead of “there’s a bad moon on the rise.” We made up our own lyrics to many songs, including the Happy Birthday song. It involved stating that the birthday person belonged in a zoo with the elephants and zebras, and a big ape like you…..it’s a wonder our friends didn’t punch us in the nose for that one! I am sure there were many others. Seems like it was all a function of being silly….or maybe not really hearing and understanding the world around us. Those were fun times, though. 😊

    1. nammynools Post author

      Song lyrics! Oh my. We would fight over those things. I was glad when they printed them on the sleeve, but that didn’t happen often enough!

  2. Laura

    My husband is a bricklayer and for some reason I like to call tuckpointing “puck tointing”. I also have called goosebumps “boose gumps” for as long as I can remember. My brain won’t say the words correctly. After 26 years together, my husband has adopted my language.

    1. nammynools Post author

      Those sound like perfectly acceptable alternatives. But that he has adopted your language? Now, that’s quite impressive. Haha.

    2. Eileen Adickes

      My kids and I have switched words like that for decades much to the bewilderment of my clarity seeking husband who does and says almost nothing foolish.

      1. nammynools Post author

        I had a father who just shook his head and smiled knowingly when we were saying silly stuff.

  3. Connie

    My little sister always said hippomapotamus. I think she still does, and she’s in her fifties.

    I like indignance – that should be a word!

  4. Bonnie Boyles

    Laura and I sound a lot alike. I, too have boose
    Gumps. According to my children and grandchildren I speak “Bonnish”. My doc says I’m linguistically dyslexic. I asked hubby tonight if he wanted a sot of poup or a chit of polli.. pot of chili. I can never ever say butterscotch but scutterbotch just flows right out of my mouth. Life is so much fun around here.

  5. Joyce Karushis

    My wonderful friend, my mother in law, would constantly mispronouce words just to see if you would catch it. Of course I was in on the game and we never had anyone correct us. We never knew if people really believed we couldn’t pronounce the words !

    1. nammynools Post author

      That’s awesome! In this day and age, you can’t get away with it as much … people are constantly calling me out for my deliberate misspellings. I want to whimper and say … I meant it, but I don’t. 🙂

    2. Shirley Atwood

      We have a friend like that! Paulette is delightful! My daughter Amanda became Miranda and still is to Paulette!!! She resembles that remark!

  6. Marianne Popp

    I have always had trouble with the word chaos. I said it the way it was printed. I even quit saying it for a long time. Finally, hubby said this is the way it’s pronounced. I still screw up sometimes and get funny looks, but hubby just laughs. Guess that’s why I love him.

    1. nammynools Post author

      As soon as I read your comment, I realized that my first exposure to the word was from the old Get Smart television show – Chaos and Control. I heard it every week! LOL.

  7. Elaine

    When we stumbled with our words Gram would say “ seems like you habe your nungue in a tot and your mix all tucked up.” She also said to throw down the cows in the barn some hay.

  8. Kate

    My children laugh as I can look right at the one I’m talking to and call them by the other’s name. My daughter likes dacodills in the Spring

    1. nammynools Post author

      I’ve always told my husband … and my sister and anyone who will listen to remember that I’ve always said crazy things. That way when I’m old and senile, I won’t be senile, just old.

  9. Fran Neff

    My worst for me is music too…I can’t recall most of them but Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” was always a “Raspberry Parfait” and the Doobie Brothers “Give me the Beat Boys” was always “Give me the Beach Ball”.
    Apparently I wanted Ice Cream and a Beach, go figure!

  10. Rachel Yeatman

    My favorite story would be my son when he was little. We had Barney taped on vhs for those days when you really needed to get something done. Lol. During commercials we would say fast forward it. He would say “fass-it daddy fass-it” we still love it. We also called napkins- nak-kins. Now when my 3 older sisters, Mom and I get together we all talk almost at the same time. Someone will say something wrong then we all have the giggles. Sometimes it takes hours to get to sleep because of these giggles. Lol

    1. nammynools Post author

      Kids give us so much permission to enjoy the weird things we say. Okay, apparently so do siblings! Haha. That’s fun.

  11. Kathleen Hammerlind

    I have a problem with pronunciation of the word “Celt”, I say Kelt, but it seems like I should use a” soft ” c instead of a hard one.
    My favorite ” joke ” about use of words is ” I wanted to send you a pornographic card, but could not remember if you owned a pornograph”.

    1. nammynools Post author

      Yeah – I’m with you on ‘Celt.’ Some of these words I get in my head and can never re-train myself to fix them.

  12. Pat

    I had a small stroke back in the 80’s and ever since I get elevator and umbrella mixed up. If I need to use either word, I have to come to a full stop and think about what word I need to use.

    1. nammynools Post author

      Are those the only words? Because that’s just kinda wild! Wow. Our brains are so fascinating.

  13. Janet Ferguson

    When I was little, I did not understand what moving had to do with cousins. You know – first cousins once we moved.

  14. Janet Ferguson

    Then there was the time our preacher was coming for dinner. I saw him pull into the driveway and told Mom the “creature” was coming. He signed his cards to my parents “The Creature” ever after that.

    And one more, I told my parents we had to get to church early that Sunday because I was alcoholic (acolyte).

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