Thursday, September 22, 2011

Playing Shakespeare: Making Up Words

I think by now that many people understand or know the tremendous effect Shakespeare has had on the English language. He created many of the common phrases and words we use now. In composition, we say that beginning writers should follow models of strong writing, so why not follow Shakespeare’s example and create new phrases and words? (Just make sure you use them in the appropriate context, e.g. not in a formal cover letter, etc.)

In speech, we can get away with a lot of sayings that aren’t necessarily acceptable in formal writing. So I take the opportunity in my informal speech to introduce words that people probably don’t hear frequently, or ever for that matter. Admittedly, these words aren’t as sophisticated as Shakespeare’s, but I have to start somewhere. For your ease, I have provided definitions, the International Phonetic Alphabet pronunciations (I think my word font changed some of them so bear with me on them), other words I commonly use in place of said made-up words, and usage examples of my most common or my recent favorite made up phrases and words. Take that Shakespeare!

Doink (/dɔink/): n. a person who demonstrates a lack of common sense, See also ding-a-ling or ding-dong; v. to do something incorrectly or mess it up; to lose control of a ball or sports object, see also shank; adj. to be out of place or contorted. "That driver crossed five lanes in one motion. What a doink!" (My mom created this word, and we use it in almost any part of speech in my family frequently, but people outside our family give me funny looks when I do use it. I can’t imagine why . . .)

-esque and -ish. Obviously these suffixes are already in common usage, but I apply it to almost any noun or adjective. For example, officialesque or officialish (I know that these don’t make sense at first glance--how can something have qualities of being official and not be--but if you have ever played church sports, they start to make perfect sense). 

Loquidiot (/lokwIdiǝt/): n. a person who talks incessantly about nonsensical rubbish, a combination of loquacious and idiot. “The loquidiot’s complaining prevented his co-workers from explaining that the door opens by pushing, not pulling it.” (Tracy invented this one with a former roommate.)

Whomp (/wamp/): v. to create an unfortunate or undesirable effect or situation, see also suck. “I have five loads of laundry to do by myself. This whomps!” (I actually remember hearing this on a cartoon called Recess when I was a child. So although I did not create it, I have kept using it and therefore claim it.)

Yoink (/jɔink/): v. to grab; to steal, although not maliciously, see also commonly used pilfer or filch; to borrow. “Mind if I yoink your pen for a second?”

I know I have more, but these are the ones I can think of at the moment. If we talk soon, I’m sure you’ll hear others. 

Have you made up words? I’d love for you to share them!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheerleader Time! DEFENSE!!!

Tracy is so darn close to being done! He has one more revision of his thesis, and he plans to defend on October 7. (Sidenote: I hate that it is a called a defense. Are they attacking him? Are they shooting arrows at him? I suppose they could shoot figurative arrows of academic skepticism at him, but to my understanding, a defense entails more of a discussion between academic peers. If ever a word would evoke terror in graduate students' minds and hearts, it is defense. Sidenote over.)

Because Tracy already has a job waiting for him after graduation, he feels pretty motivated already to finish his thesis as soon as he can. But I wanted to give him some sugary energy and a fun message from me to cheer him on.

In case you can't read the sign or the labels on the candy, the message says, "Hey Tracy, It's CRUNCH time!! Pull out all your TWIX and push to PAYDAY. Our joyful SNICKERS later will make your 100 GRAND effort worth it!" The Reese's honestly doesn't fit into a sentence. I just stuck in on there at the end because it is his favorite candy. I suppose I could have done something with the "King Size" part, but oh well.

Some have asked whether he has taken advantage of my editing skills, and the answer is NO. I only looked over one grant proposal a little over a year ago. Otherwise, I have not read one page of his text. I have helped PhD candidates in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, marketing, animal science, etc. with improving journal articles and their theses or dissertations. So why have I not helped Tracy with his thesis, you ask? In geology, every other word is jargon and almost every sentence appears in the passive voice. In the past, Tracy took 10 minutes to explain one paragraph to me without using field-specific terminology so I could understand the concept. That fact alone makes that process pretty painful. So he has opted to revise it a million times on his own with his adviser. He hasn't asked me to look at it, so I'll just cheer him on and be there however I can if and when he needs me.

Cheer with me: DEFENSE!! (clap, clap) DEFENSE!! (clap, clap)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

If you have not read Thomas S. Monson's amazing statement to the Washington Post about 9/11, you can read it here. I feel like I'm just elaborating on my specific examples of what he said.

I was thirteen, almost fourteen, on September 11, 2001. I admit my age to state that I am of the generation that was old enough to realize what happened ten years ago but not understand how truly horrific it was, much less why. Why would someone attack the United States? Why would someone use a plane as a weapon? Why would anyone want to kill so many people?

Ten years later, I still can't answer many of these why questions. The thought of justifying murder and attack boggles my mind and conscience. However, I have found some other answers to the real questions that I didn't expect.

-Life is precious and sacred. We never know when it will shift on us. Everyone realized what matters most after 9/11. We can't forget that lesson, even when times are good.

-A personal lesson I have learned is that violence for violence's sake should not be cool or entertaining. Too many people said, "It looked like a movie" on 9/11. A disconnect between reality and fantasy has clouded the horror of violence. I admit to liking some action movies, which seems like the contradiction of the century next to my previous statement. However, I think there is a difference between violence for violence's sake and violence that has an appropriate, meaningful, reasonable purpose. We have to be careful that we do not become desensitized and glorify mutilation of the human body, lest we cheapen the horror of what some people have endured.

-We should never let fear or ignorance prevent us from discovering truth or meeting good people. While we were in Pullman, Washington, we met a Muslim couple who invited us to come to their mosque for a visitor's day. We enthusiastically accepted the invitation and found that while we did not understand the rituals in Arabic, we did not feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or pressured by the people worshiping there. Afterward, they answered our questions and shared their views on modesty (while mine are not as "radical" in appearance, the general premise is exactly the same), health and diet (again, very similar to my beliefs), and other things that amazingly seemed similar to the Judeo-Christian traditions. Most of all, they clarified common myths about their faith--sound familiar? When we moved to College Station, two men from Iraq lived across from us. They wanted to practice their English, so they invited us over for dinner. They were happy to be in the United States, despite the beyond extensive background checks, interviews, and searches they endured. They showed us pictures of their children, told jokes in broken English, and became our friends. Good people come from all walks of life and beliefs. We need to try to treat others with respect and kindness and live the best way we know how.

-Every religion has had people who misuse their faith to justify horrible things. I don't understand how someone can misinterpret religious texts and put words in God's mouth. I will do my personal best to honor my beliefs (God is merciful, yet just. He loves everyone, and so should we) in my interaction with everyone--either in or out of my faith.

The greatest homage we can pay to those who have paid the ultimate price is to rebuild, to change, to live differently--live happier, smarter, more selflessly, braver, better.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Can Life Get Any Better? I Submit That It Cannot!

 On Friday, we got to see one of our favorite comedians--Brian Regan! When we found out that he was coming to Texas A&M for their First Yell (a long-running tradition to practice their yells before the first football game--yes, this really is a tradition), we knew we had to get tickets.

I don't like too many comedians. I mean I have moments when I appreciate a certain joke, but I don't necessarily like a specific comedian because most comedians use horrible language or aren't clever or mature enough not to refer inappropriately to sex or bodily functions in their acts. I can't think of anything that Brian Regan has said that made me feel uncomfortable.

However, one of Brian's jokes this past Friday started out with his suggestion that we should all get one free kill. At first that seemed very . . . uh . . . disturbing, but just hear how he says it.

Love it!!

In the university's newspaper, one of the yell leaders referred to a time when Brian Regan said he would not tell a joke he wouldn't say to his kids. Awesome! He even tells jokes his son suggests for his act: "Why aren't there anymore dinosaurs? Because they're all dead." ha.

We loved it. If you ask me real nice, I can share some of his other jokes (about dancing, the College Station airport, etc.).

For those of you who do not know Brian Regan's genius, watch these and enjoy!

An entertained, happy couple!