Monday, September 14, 2009

fun with words

I mentioned in a previous post that I still refer to what I am doing right now- banging on the letters under my fingers- as "typing". My daughter corrected me by saying I am old fashioned and it is now called "keyboarding". It made me think about specific terms and slang words and idioms that seem to denote a certain decade or era.

On the subject of idioms=I use a lot of idioms. I like idioms. The same daughter that corrected my sorry "typing" reference also told me that they are currently learning about idioms at school. She was shocked at how many of her class mates couldn't spontaneously give a specific example of an idiom although they had without doubt heard boat loads of idioms throughout their 13 year lives. Once revealed, they smiled and said, "Oh is that what they are called?" For A, it does pay to have a somewhat crazy -bats in the belfry- idiom spewing Mom in her life who also collects vintage dictionaries!! What do you call that? It's on the tip of my tongue, oh yes, a book worm!!

If you think about it, words and phrases like "groovy", "cool", "swell", "gee whiz" and "the cat's pajamas", all make you think of a certain time. Sometimes, over the years, different age groups and situations change the meaning of a word. The result is that over time people react very differently to that word than may have been the case 5, 10 or 50 years ago. Think about songs of 50 or 60 years in the past which included a word meant to simply mean happy and carefree and now means something about lifestyle choice. See what I mean?
Here's a question for you all-- who decided that all bad words would have 4 letters????? When I was younger I would remember that bit of trivia as I would spell out the word for the thing that holds back water in a river because I didn't want to accidentally spell that OTHER word!
As I pondered this world of words it brought to mind a silly slang phrase I had heard many times= "23 skiddoo". I knew the general intended meaning based on how it can be used in a sentence but did not know the origin meaning. So I researched. Now even though I prefer the good ol' well used and worn paper pages between a hard cover when I do research, this time I let the browser bar do the searching for me. As with many phrases, there are several speculations as to initial origin as well as some slight variations of meanings. One such origin has to do with this building, of all things. It is the Flatiron Building in 1903. When this wonderfully unique building was combined with some physics involving the wind and then women's dress skirts were add in, it gave birth to a new phrase. Read about "23 skiddoo". It's your lesson for today. You never know when there will be a pop quiz. If you are ever asked about this as a contestant on game show you can thank me.


Diva Kreszl said...

Thanks for this great post...I too am a bookworm of sorts and a big vocabulary fan. My 16 year old son often accuses me of making up words, like curmudgeon. Of course I take great delight in watching him scamper for the dictionary and when he returns I am grinning like the cat who ate the canary!

Anonymous said...

I find that "life lessons" learned as a child often turn into comforting things when I am adult. As a child, getting firewood, spliting the logs and filling the fireplace was something we did to keep warm in the winter in North Carolina. Now I live in Texas and although it does not get anywhere near as cold as in northern climates, there are still days and nights when the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace is what everyone in the family wants - sitting around, smelling the burning wood, warming to the fire either watching a movie or reading a book or just going about our daily activities. Each fall, I look forward to going to the local family who makes their living of of bringing in firewood from other counties (since you can't go and chop down any trees near Dallas) and bringing it back for the locals to buy. I still get to pick the wood I want, stack it in my truckbed, bring it back to the house, have all of us unload it and then I feel we are all ready for the chilly or downright cold days and nights ahead. It's like a squirrel collecting nuts to see it through the winter. THis brings me comfort and is a looked-forward-to event for me each year. Equally as important as making ready our home for the cold days is helping out the family whose livelihood depends on people buying wood from them. YOu develop relationships with these people ... just like the local farmer's market family who comes to our small Rowlett town outside of Dallas. THeir family brings in fresh fruits, vegetables and meat from their farm. Again, I get the fresh food from an outdoors market and they prepare their family for the winter months with what they have earned from their hard laborers the rest of the year.

So, your picture of stacked firewood brought back all of these wonderful memories to me.

Liz Schimmel
Rowlett, TX
Sister from Robert Locke in Raleigh, NC.