Monday, July 14, 2008

Wonderings and Googlings (Wherein I wonder about words, then I Google them)

"supermarket" -- 44.7 million Google hits
"grocery store" -- 18.9 million Google hits

Sort of shoots my theory that people don't really use the word "supermarket" in their everyday lives. Must just be my little corner of the world.

This reminds me of the time two years ago when I was in the Minneapolis Public Radio studios to do an interview about Grammar Snobs -- an interview I was very grateful to get. The show host asked if I needed something to drink. Then she saw I was holding a soda and said: "Oh, you've got your pop."

She left the room and I marveled to the other woman there. "Pop. Pop. Hmm. Wow. Pop."

It was just idle word wondering, which I often do. I didn't realize it could have sounded like mockery until I heard a disembodied voice say, "Yeah, we say pop," then realized the host was right on the other side of the glass and I was sitting in front of a microphone.

Color me Jesse.

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Joel said...

I love the layers in this post and can completely identify with your "pop" story. Ironically, though I am prone to sarcasm, I am perhaps most offensive inadvertently, when I don't mean to mock.

Coming at this from another angle, it's kind of amazing that our bastard tongue--along with its perhaps more urbane brother across the ocean (which should probably be given top billing)--is so pervasive as it is. Which is to say--among other things--it's remarkable that there aren't more differences among us. I look forward to other explorations of regionalisms, dialect, the Queen's English (hmmm, and Queens English and queens' English), etc. One of the things that I find sometimes disturbing, sometimes amusing, sometimes both, sometimes something else completely different is the way that the dialects and, in some cases, entirely different languages (e.g., for those of us who grew up in the pews, the continued misunderstanding that King James spoke the same tongue that we do) create confusion with what practically amount to mere homophones. I have a British friend who tells some hilarious first person stories about fags and rubbers and butts and such.

And, in fact, just "wonderings and googlings" is nice in itself. :-)

June Casagrande said...

Where did I hear or read recently that, contrary to popular belief that technology is making our language homogeneous, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary?

Regarding the pervasiveness of English: When I was in college, I was told that French was THE diplomatic language. Now I'm told it's English, but that it will soon give way to Mandarin (or was that Cantonese?) Either way, I wouldn't be surprised if our linguistic hegemony is on the wane. Nor would I be surprised to learn that I've got it all wrong!

: )


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