“gramophone” and words that rhyme with the “o” in it.
In these days when we are hOme alOne or on the phOne, or letting out a mOan about
the times we are in, it can be fun to simply let our minds gO with the sounds we hear.
and it is easy to hear ourselves rhyming words like
and keeping going to
and on as far as we want to go.
So what? Big Deal! But suppose we are not native speakers of English. What is to tell
us that CONE, KNOWN, and LOAN rhyme? They aren’t spelled the same! Why should
“ne,” “wn,” and “an” rhyme?
We are, without referring to anything other than sounds we have made all our lives,
in the reality that spoken language is not written language.
I got to know a young woman who is a staff member at the pharmacy I go to. (What
has “pharmacy” got to do with a “farm”?)
(See how easy it is to let our minds go out and play for a bit?)
The young woman at the pharmacy is going back to school to get her junior college
certificate. We all support her efforts. She is taking courses online. The written
commentary she recently received about her writing said that her composition is
“too informal.” I thought that was actually a good way of saying that she did not
speak “Standard English,” which can also be called “TV English.” Historical linguistics
shows us that whatever is the most common way to speak overall soon becomes
“Standard” – especially when a few well known people speak it.
I’ve probably written before of the surprise I felt many moons ago when I heard a
pleasant young professor from Georgia say that it was Jimmy Carter’s presidency
that gave him and many people like him opportunities to teach “in the North” (which
also included the Middle West), doors that had been closed to them before President
Carter’s speeches were heard on TV.
So my young friend at the pharmacy is writing more “formally.”
“Well, why shouldn’t she? If everyone spoke ‘correctly’ our language would be back
to how it should be.”
If I heard that on TV (and I might), I’d reach for the remote and press MUTE or
maybe even OFF.
My young friend at the pharmacy spends her shift talking to people from all over the
world. Some are fluent in English, many are not. She needs to make sure each person
at her window knows what medications they are taking home and how frequently
they should take what. She needs to make sure they have insurance. If they do not
have insurance, she needs to make sure they understand how much things cost.
And she does all this. Write too informally? Whaddya mean? She does a great job
with the English language. However, the person reading her WRITTEN LANGUAGE is
not LISTENING TO HER talk with people from all over the world.
April Fools Day is a fine time to let ourselves rhyme – just let the mind relax with the
sounds of our ears, our memories. Allow our thoughts to take us to realms of spring
flowers, hopefully a few more rain showers – hours of amusement with the sounds
of languages we speak.
I often think of the variety of languages I have heard at Pinole Artisans – English in a
variety of forms, French, Spanish, Japanese, Farsi, Chinese. Come to think of it, Skype
and streaming bring these worlds of sound closer and closer.
In May I may include a few “whys” and “wherefores” about the spelling of this
country’s “mother tongue.” Would you like that? I’m listening.
Painter, Poet, Pinole Artisan