Friday, October 17, 2014

How Many Languages do You Know?

I have mentioned before that each of my daughters speaks another language besides their native tongue, English. Let me clarify, Eldest speaks Spanish; Middlest speaks Latin (and is learning Spanish); and Littlest speaks French.

I must clarify further. Because these are young people, heading quickly into young adulthood, they are also quite fluent in the modern dialect of Mumble. For those not familiar with that dialect, let me explain. Young people are accustomed to speed: On every corner there is opportunity for fast food; access to the internet is at speeds of over 10 Mbps (I remember my brother demonstrating his first modem at a whopping 300 bps, that could barely keep up with what he typed.); and it is normal for high school students to take a number of Advanced Placement classes, so that when they graduate from high school, they already have college credit. (Eldest started her college career with a year’s worth of college credit.)

In order to keep up with this frenetic pace, young people have developed the dialect of Mumble, or as it is scientifically known, Speedglish, as opposed to my native tongue, which is apparently Sloenglish. The basic structure of Mumble is to truncate as many words as possible and to string them together into one fast paced word. An example might be, “Nahbraugodidalwrngudunderstan.” In regular English or Sloenglish that short burst of noise would be, “No brother, you have it all wrong; you do not understand.”

Do you understand? I hope so, because the concept evades me.

Having daughters fluent in Mumble was handy a couple of summers ago when we were flying from one coast of the United States to the other coast. As I was passing through the TSA check point, I found out quickly that TSA does not stand for “Totally Stinking Awesome”. A TSA agent issued a direction to me in Mumble. I responded politely, “Excuse me?” One of my daughters, seeing the awkward social situation I was in, translated for me, “Dad, he wants you to take your glasses off the top of your head and put them on right.”

I was glad for the translation, but baffled as to the reason. I mentioned to the kind TSA agent, “They are simply for reading.” He was insistent that the security of someone was dependent on my wearing my reading glasses while trying to walk through the security checkpoint. So, I lowered the glasses to the tip of my nose, arched my eyebrow and peered over the top of my glasses (everyone hates that) and asked, “Izdizbetterbro?”

He gurgled, “Yah”.

My daughter scolded me, “Dad, stop it, you are not doing it right.”

And I replied in the only real Speedglish I know, “Fuggedaboutit.”

Friday, October 10, 2014

My Scientific Observation of The Blood Red Eclipse

This past week, Wednesday, October 8th, there was an eclipse of the moon here in the United States. This eclipse was called a Blood Red eclipse, due to it being close to dawn and the moon taking on a reddish hue at the height of the eclipse.  I remember as a youngster my parents awakening us one late night to see a lunar eclipse. I was fascinated to watch the moon slowly disappear as a bite shaped piece of shadow kept growing. At that young age, it reminded me of Cookie Monster from Sesame Street slowly devouring the moon like some celestial cookie.

For this most recent event, I was at work. There were a small number of people who were standing outside to watch the eclipse. I stood back from the group and watched both the eclipse, and people’s reactions as they exited the building. I found that there were four distinct categories of reaction.

The first group of people fell into the “Wise-Acre” group. These were mostly men who would say, “Oh, you are looking at the moon? I got another moon I can show you.” To which the only appropriate reply was, “If it is all the same, we would like that moon to remain eclipsed.”

The second category were those people who have an affinity towards agriculture and farming. They would look at the group of watchers, glance at the moon, and immediately begin to sound out, “Moooooooooon.” This was humorous the first time, but soon it became rather ridiculous, prompting me to think, “Holy Cow people, that joke is done, stop milking it.”

The next group of people were those who don’t believe anything, unless they see it on the television or internet. Their reaction to seeing the crowd and never even glancing skyward was, “Oh, are you watching the eclipse? I saw it on the television.”

Really? You saw it on television?

In this same category were those who pulled out their smart phones to open up some star tracking app so they could see the moon. Come on folks! It is the moon! How did Newton ever find the moon without his apple product?

The last group was the Sci-Fi nerd group. These wonderful people walked out the door, saw the moon gazing group, turned towards the moon, reached out with their hands in the air and begin to utter growls and grunts. I must say, I was speechless.

I enjoyed watching the moon as it slipped behind the earth’s shadow, but that enjoyment was eclipsed by my co-workers reactions.