Linguistics on Memorial Day

I recently had an interesting experience at the eye doctor. It was my first time going to this particular practice and I chose it because it was close to home and had a fun boutique type atmosphere. Why not make a very clinical experience almost a shopping trip? Or at least try to trick yourself into thinking that in some way as you pay way too much for a pair of glasses. After coming in and settling down on a nice comfy couch I realized this was obviously the place for me when I saw the free Wi-Fi. A practice after a bloggers heart indeed.  My eye doctor greeted me sans white coat but nice button up, jeans and italian leather loafers. And away we went. We chatted as he asked me to sit in the chair and then gave me a puzzling look which makes you nervous in a medical sense. I immediately thought there must be something so wrong with my eyes, he as a pro can view it from across the room!(I tend to over exaggerate in medical situations, sadly this is not the first time).

Instead he said “I like to try and guess where people are from by their accents but I am really confused by yours.” This made me smile in secretly evil way. I knew he would never peg me down. Try as he might, let the games begin. “I know you’re a southerner but other things throw me off.”  I kept smiling and said nothing. He continued the exam while I taunted him with light conversation and the occasional linguistic puzzle I knew he was trying desperately to unravel but never would. In the end he looked at me and said the words I was waiting for. “I give up.” It seems that rarely happens to him. But how could the poor guy contend with the plethora of accents, vocabulary and slang words I have built up over my young lifetime.

You see I am a Southerner. My accent is dripping with sweet tea and Spanish moss. But listen longer and you will soon become confused as well. I can use “ya’ll” and “wicked” in the same sentence without batting an eyelash.  I pronounce either and neither in a very proper way not at all like my fellow Southerners.  You may hear me speak quite knowingly about a Nor’easter while in the next sentence I drop a line to my son saying “I am going to paint your back porch red”…followed by his full name including  the suffix of the IV. In the South we feel to express anger you must call someone by each and every name ever printed on their birth certificate. This makes perfect logical sense…it only serves to make them know you mean them specifically and no one else.

I have found as a writer this history serves me well. I adapt to other languages well…easily able to pick up accents and words. So to what do I owe this ability to confuse my eye doctor and make him admit defeat? Simple. I am a military brat. Born and raised in my early years in the South….I spent most of my childhood moving from base to base. Tennessee, South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, Maine and even Alaska are all places that served as home for my family. I am the happy child of a career military father and a super organized Army wife as my mother. Even now as an adult every few years…I get the moving itch.   And so Memorial Day is always a day for me where I try to remind others…it’s not just your day off.

Today means something to many.  From our veterans to those currently serving to the families that endure this very unique lifestyle….they all deserve to be recognized for their service. No matter your political affiliation….freedom is not free and there are always those there ready and willing to pay the price. On this day I say “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart to all those serving and who have served. Thank you for my freedoms that I know I take for granted. Even for the freedom of having this blog on which to thank you…or the freedom of reading any book I choose and spreading my opinion to the world. Everyone does not have it so. And so on this happy day you have off…please just take a moment to do something to say “Thank You”. It may only take a minute but I know by experience how very much it means. In closing I simply want to say…Happy Memorial Day and God Bless America.

  • On a side note if you are interested in some book recommendations for military children and their families, The National Military Family Association has some great suggestions. (The picture shown above is one taken from my hotel room window on my recent trip to NYC)

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