Rising to the bait

Sorry I’m a bit late with this – blame the snot-fest.

I’ve been puzzling about linguistics recently…

Why do we ‘rise’ to the bait, but ‘lower ourselves’ to dignify a wind-up with a response? Where on earth is this insult pitched? No wonder we go through life seesawing between backhanded compliments and verbal confusions! Would world peace be achieved if we all spoke the same language? Never. You’d have to have a hive mind mentality set up before that happened. One mind, one meaning. To illustrate:

I hate crowds – too many thoughts rushing around. You see, another of my little  gifts is that I’m an empath. I’m not telepathic (or, as I jokingly call it – ‘telepathetic’), although I can pretty much gauge what a person is thinking based on things like facial expression and body language. No. An empath is something different. It’s not an observational thing, but the ability to know what someone else is feeling; or even to experience that feeling alongside them. The amount of times I’ve been having a great day and suddenly felt weird for no reason, before finding out that someone in the building is having the day from hell.

In fact, at one job I was at, I was warned to stay clear of the staff room because there’d been an argument in there half an hour previously…

So, anyway. Crowds equal bad news for me because I get exhausted by the maelstrom of emotions whirling around every corner.

Now a football match – that’s another thing altogether. I can happily, even peacefully sit and be perfectly relaxed. You see, there may be thousands of people there but they all share pretty much the same thought… Win. Win. Win. Generally, folks don’t go to a match to spend ninety minutes wondering if they turned the cooker off, or if the combats they’re wearing really do go with their t-shirt. And even if they did, chances are those thoughts/emotions would be swallowed up by the Win-win-winners.

Even speaking the same language causes misunderstandings… Take Mrs Malaprop, for instance – a humorous character whose verbal manglings gave rise to a whole brand of spoken shenanigans… An example:  “Illiterate him quite from your memory” (obliterate).

And yes, ok, I’ve made a few of my own, in various languages… I’ll give you a few examples, as long as you please remember that I’m not a one for bad language, it’s just the way some of them came out…

When I was about 4, I went with my sister to see one of her friends, who delighted in playing silly games with me. One day, she was playing “I’m The King Of The Castle” with me, which goes like this:

I’m The King Of The Castle

And you’re the dirty rascals.

Only, of course what came out of my mouth wasn’t ‘rascals’, and it began with ‘b’… My sister’s friend was somewhat taken aback. And no, I don’t know where I’d picked that word up from. Sometimes I don’t think I even do pick up words. I think I just mangle them until they sound like another word. Case in point… Once I was talking to Mother about a friend and called them a ‘rech mewn pot jam’ which, in Welsh means a ‘fart in a jam pot’. Only I didn’t use the word ‘rech’, I used a very similar sounding word which, unfortunately means, er… How do I put this… front bottom. Cue cranial bongo solo from Mother…

And here’s one I heard earlier.

I was in a supermarket the other day when I overheard a mother with her son and another boy who was clearly friend of son. They were choosing drinks before going into the nearby cinema. The boy got very excited at the range of drinks available and pointed one particular bottle out to his friend, asking him “Have you ever tried that drink? That ‘Knackered’ one?’ She cringed and corrected him – very promptly.

I don’t know what the mother was more embarrassed about: her son’s reading ability; whether he’d just used the word ‘knackered’, or the fact that she’d had to say ‘Naked’ very loudly in a public place!

Language is a funny old thing…


Follow me on Twitter @EverydayVampire

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