Posts Tagged With: language

Naked Crayons and Other Sunny Things

By Simsala111 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

By Simsala111 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Spending time lately with my favorite three-year old I picked up on some of her personalized words and phrases. She’s smart! And I’m not just biased.

Here’s proof.

I mean look at this first word. She says:

Hanitizer” instead of hand sanitizer 

That makes perfect sense and in fact ought to replace the two-word equivalent, don’t you agree?

She hasn’t quite mastered the art of “f” and “v” so she uses an “s” instead.  So, when she asks:

“Please can I have some Sruit Snacks?”

I try to remember to add an “f” or a “v” in place of an “s.” And, voila’ I know she really wants Fruit Snacks.

I think, again, she’s stumbled on something brilliant, since those little bite-sized pieces of candy-like substance have about as much to do with fruit as her version of the word does.

One of her favorite pastimes is watching videos or:

Mooies” also known as movies.

At my house she gets away with watching more than she does at her own house. I’m thinking of hiding “Aladdin” and “Bug’s Life” because I can’t seem to get them out of my head.

By Glamhag (Glass slippers) [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

By Glamhag (Glass slippers) [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

Oddly, she refuses to watch “Cinderella” or as she calls it:


Sounds like a Planet of the Apes version of the glass slipper story, doesn’t it? It once served as her Mom’s favorite movie as a kid and led to the naming of a semi-adopted cat named “Suffer” (another appropriate word-twist.) Someday I’ll convince her to watch it.

When she colors with crayons she prefers the newer ones that haven’t had the paper wrappers ripped off of them. When I recently handed her an orange crayon without the paper around it she laughed and then she said:

You want this book!

You want this book!

“It’s a Naked Crayon!”

Then I laughed, too. Her Mom said she probably got the term from a book they’d read from the library called, “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Oliver Jeffers.

You’d like the book, too, even if you don’t hang out with three-year olds. Drop in to the library and look at it sometime, or buy a copy for your own favorite three-year old. And then next time you pick up a naked crayon, you’ll get to laugh as well.

What a great sense of humor this particular three-year old possesses. I’ve learned to see things with a twist when get to I spend time with her. When she thinks something’s hilarious she even says so:

“Haha, that’s sunny!”

Then I remember to replace the “s” with an “f” and I know she’s found something funny!

Funny and sunny definitely seem related. The more sun I include in my days, the funner my life feels. Likewise, the more fun I remember to schedule in, the sunnier my days.

See, isn’t she brilliant? I sure think so.

Naked Crayons!!!

Naked Crayons!!!

Categories: Family, Humor, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I Vote for the Grawlix

I’m convinced that the only reason children are given middle names is so that parents have a way of letting the child know when they are really, really, really in trouble. Who hasn’t overheard some dialog like the following:

“JJ, we keep out hands to ourselves now, don’t we.”

“Jimmy, don’t touch that.”

“Jimmy B…Are you listening to me?”

“James, I said don’t touch that, get over here now. Don’t you run away!”

“James Henry Beelzebub! You are in BIG trouble now!”

Did you notice the escalation? From everyday to formal, from easygoing to insistent?

I made the error of not giving three of my children a middle name. That middle name would have come in handy, on many an occasion. Instead, I had to employ some serious creativity to get my point across. Or make up a middle name so they’d know they were in trouble.

Some kids have more than one middle name. Does that give the parents more emphasis? Or does it give the child more chances before things ramp up to utter chaos? Just curious.

If a parent often or always used all three or more names to address their child, then that middle name wouldn’t hold any more power than a single name. The rare frequency of use is what imbues that middle name with meaning and emphasis.

In the same way, swear words lose their punch, power, meaning and impact when used too often.

Like the tale of the boy who cried wolf, swearing, if it becomes common or too frequent, or out of context, loses its efficacy.

“Oh, that’s just the way he is. He doesn’t mean anything by it,” is something often said about those who swear without thought. The only meaning conveyed is anger or thoughtlessness or lack of vocabulary.


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While living in another state, we used a fantastic mechanic friend who worked on cars from his home garage. We got to know his family, his kids, his wife. Nice people. Surprisingly, he swore like a sailor, meaning, nearly every third word was a vulgarity. The first few times I spent any time around him I thought he was in a bad mood. Turned out that was just how he talked, happy, sad, angry, indifferent. That’s how he was raised. The swear words served as fillers for him, like most people use the words “uh”or “hmm” or “like” or “y’know.” It wasn’t easy to tune out or filter the sense from what he said. It was distracting and often uncomfortable. Surprisingly, he was the most tender-hearted, kind, generous person I’d met in ages. His words didn’t match who he was. Consequently, many people kept themselves from getting to know him, the real man behind the angry sounding words. What a loss.

 “Your own words are the bricks and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.” – Sonia Choquette.

I admit I’m kind of a word snob. I select words with probably too much care and precision. I get told I use “big words” too much. I blame that on all the reading I’ve done over a lifetime. There are so many words to use in every possible situation! And I keep learning new ones!

photo-14There are some words that aren’t even swear words that make me cringe; misspelled words, grammar errors, typos. That’s just me being silly and picky. A word that means something else other than what the speaker thinks what it means can make me wince. A swear word when nearly any other word would be adequate just feels lazy and pointless. Certain swear words are like a punch in the gut, a word out-of-place in a sentence, meaningless, almost silly.

Here’s a brief example of the many word choices out there that could replace just the word vulgarity: rudeness, tastelessness, uncouthness, offensiveness, crude, impropriety, indecency, cuss, execration, expletive, profanity, obscenity, cuss word, four-letter word, rude word, dirty word, vulgarism, sacrilege, curse, oath, and lets not forget ^*$#(@&**!!

That’s twenty-one word choices! Why would a person, particularly a writer, always use the same three or four words when there are twenty-one or more options? It doesn’t take a boatload of effort to look up words in a thesaurus or dictionary anymore.

Don’t get me wrong here.

I’m no purist. My mouth surely has needed a soap washing on many an occasion. Just ask MSH or my kids. When I get really, really angry half my brain cells shut down and what I say comes across as all but meaningless. I’m not proud of it. I am after all a wordsmith. I have the skills to get my ideas across without the &*#$*%#$ thrown in as empty fillers.

That’s a grawlix.

That string of punctuation marks that signify cussing is called a grawlix, by the way.

I like that. You’re free to fill in the blanks or let it slide. I picture Yosemite Sam grumbling under his breath as “that durn rabbit” gets away again. I get his anger without taking a hit to my gut and my sensibilities.

As for bleeping out cuss words, I’m not much of a fan of that. There isn’t much left to the imagination when lip-reading is obvious. And blanking out the middle letters of expletives doesn’t lessen the angry meaningless of the word.

English: A black ink splatter with slightly bl...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I guess I just wish we all tried a little harder to say what we really meant. Swear words just feel like so much anger spewed on the page, like ink splatted out of a quill pen. What a mess where there’s so much potential. I’d like to think we’re all better writers and better communicators.

I know, it’s supposedly cool and sophisticated to freely pepper our sentences with those words we wouldn’t normally use in front of our grandmother, our minister, a potential employer or small children. Why is it we don’t say them in such company, I wonder.

Does that say something about our sense of propriety? Does it say something about us? Does it say anything?

Do our word choices say anything at all?

Categories: Communication, Humor, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Needing the Power of Words

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for the power of words. That may sound silly until you think about words in varying contexts.


(Photo credit: mojoey)

For instance, the power of words spoken in a prayer. I’m not thinking about rote prayers, repeated utterances we make with little thought. The words I’m thinking about pour out of a place deeper than a person’s mouth. Words birthed in loss and heartache and heaviness. Words searching for a foothold. Words struggling for sense in a senseless situation. Those words carry power and heft and potential healing.

Sometimes the mere act of placing words into the heavens is all it takes to see things clearer, to feel enabled to keep going forward. Sometimes a need requires action words added to the spoken ones. Sometimes answers arrive in unexpected packages. Sometimes answers seem elusive. But the power of the words remains unchanged.

what are word for?

what are word for? (Photo credit: Darwin Bell)

Power rides on the words we speak or withhold. Expressions of love carry a potent, almost magical strength that binds and seals. Failure to let words work such charms can leave a vast emptiness that a lifetime may never fill.

Words accompanied by music make up life’s most power-filled elixirs. Nothing else prompts action, conveys emotion, shares thoughts as well as music with words. Better than a prescription, well-chosen words combined with a perfect tune can make a gray day brighten.  Carefully placed words in a melody that touches the heartstrings can open doors long shut with hinges rusted over.

I haven’t even touched on the incomparable time-traveling properties of words, or the artistic nuances available in poetry and prose. And laughter? What elicits a laugh easier than a few just-so words? Words offer condolence. Words may lift an aching heart. Words connect, intertwine, link and hold fast.

Such powers that words possess will lift and heal and hold me today. And everyday.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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