Posts tagged with "dialect" - Faerye Net 2010-11-01T20:35:08+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Regionalisms: flimsy footwear 2010-11-01T20:35:08+00:00 2010-11-01T20:36:01+00:00 <p>At the horrendous hour of 4:25 am on Thursday, I was trying not to fall asleep in the shower or fall behind in my travel itinerary for World Fantasy Convention. I looked down at my feet, and by some miracle managed to think the complex thought &#8220;I don&#8217;t like to shower barefoot in hotels.&#8221; This led to the even more complex question of what to do about this problem, which led to my wondering if they sell the proper footwear at the airport and in turn to my making a small resolution. No matter how sleepy I was, I wasn&#8217;t going to embarrass myself by asking after the object in my native dialect.</p> <center><a href="" title="Floating Havaianas Again by Jessica.James, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="375" alt="Floating Havaianas Again" /></a></center> <p>You see, this informal footwear, a foam sole with two plastic or cloth straps which radiate from the space between the first and second toes, has gotten me into trouble before. Growing up as I did in Oregon, we called these things &#8220;thongs&#8221;. Signs at the local Bi-Mart advertising a sale: &#8220;<span class="caps">THONGS</span> $1.99/<span class="caps">PAIR</span>&#8221;. Mom, always worrying: &#8220;Thongs are for the beach or the pool! Don&#8217;t wear them all the time, they&#8217;ll deform your toes!&#8221;</p> <p>I learned that this was not the term the rest of the country used when I went to college. Yes, in the schoolyear which would see the release of the Sisqo song about that <span class="caps">OTHER</span> sort of &#8220;thong&#8221;, I was an intensely prim 17-year-old very fastidious about her feet, and all the Midwesterners laughed and laughed. &#8220;What? What&#8217;s wrong? It&#8217;s a thong. What do <em>you</em> call them?&#8221; I think my ears may have out-heated the radiator that day.</p> <p>Anyhow, I managed to unearth some feeble manicure-shop freebies Thursday morning, and didn&#8217;t have to ask any airport shop clerks about &#8220;flip-flops&#8221; (as I&#8217;ve learned to call them). But I did enjoy the memory, because it triggered another one: reading <a href="" target="links">Craig Lesley&#8217;s</a> <em><a href="" title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780312147389'>The Sky Fisherman</a></em>. Craig grew up in a different part of Oregon from me and from <a href="" target="links">my parents</a>, but this novel of an Oregon boyhood was palpably in my home language, the dialect of the adults pervasively familiar. Of course, by the next time I had a chance to talk to Craig, the only example of this I could remember was that remarkable piece of footwear, the &#8220;thong&#8221;.</p> <p>Stop laughing!</p> grey and gray 2008-07-08T11:27:48+00:00 2008-07-08T11:27:48+00:00 <p>In my third semester in the <span class="caps">MFA</span>, I got a marginal note from my advisor: &#8220;grey is Engl. spelling &#8211; gray is U.S. spelling&#8221;. On the next page, he circled &#8216;gray&#8217; (pushing consistency), and by the end of that semester I had added &#8220;find/replace grey&#8221; to the list of final touches I must put on a story before sending it out.</p> <p>I actually remember having trouble with this as a child. We largely learn to spell by reading, or at least I did, and massive numbers of the books I read as a child were British. I remember being admonished for writing &#8216;colour&#8217; and &#8216;flavour&#8217; as a first- or second-grader, and my indignation at the unfairness. It was in books! How could it be wrong if it was spelled that way <em>in books</em>? But some variations between British and American English are further under the radar than &#8216;glamour&#8217; and &#8216;theatre&#8217;. Enforcement of &#8216;gray&#8217; was not widespread, and I wasn&#8217;t sure which I should use. I remember misspelling my grandmother&#8217;s name as &#8216;Vey&#8217; instead of &#8216;Vay&#8217; &#8211; I don&#8217;t think my parents realized it, but that was because of &#8216;grey&#8217;.</p> <p>Now that I realize the distinction, it&#8217;s interesting to see that, while I obviously prefer &#8216;grey&#8217;, I use both. Search finds 69 non-Grey City hits for &#8216;grey&#8217;, 31 non-name hits for &#8216;gray&#8217; just on this site. Heck, I even spell Marvel Girl&#8217;s secret identity both ways. I&#8217;m hemorrhaging geek-cred while we speak. At any rate, I think I use the word &#8216;grey&#8217; for more subtle or numinous hues and connotations, whereas I reach for the American &#8216;gray&#8217; for flatter, darker tones. Zombies are gray. <a href="" target="links">Skies over oceans</a> are grey. No wonder I&#8217;ve been using the latter extensively <a href="" target="links">in my thesis</a>. One wonders what other linguistic quirks I will discover in myself as I turn a disciplined eye to my writing!</p>