Ambiguity and Toddlers

Ambiguity is not something a toddler understands. Addie and I were playing with one of her toys that has a lot of gizmos that whizz, turn, and make noise. One of them is a lion whose nose turns around like an old rotary dial telephone (for those under 55, go look it up). She thought it was hilarious. “Nose go ‘ound.” “Yes.” I said, “it does.” “Does your nose go around?” She gave me a serious look that meant she was thinking it over. She then stood up and turned in a complete circle, then sat back down. You know what, her nose did go around.

We both laughed, but probably for different reasons. She was quite chuffed with herself for coming up with the answer. I laughed, because she made me look downright silly. I didn’t qualify my question with a phrase that asked if her nose turned around like the lion. Had I done that, perhaps she wouldn’t have figured out how to make her nose go around, because, like most early language speakers, she is quite literal in her concepts of communication. I know the understood ambiguity doesn’t kick in until they are a bit older than toddler age. However, in today’s world, ambiguity is fast becoming the premier communication form.

I am not bashing technology, but as a retired English teacher, I find it bizarre that we have a whole generation that communicates with one letter words, anachronisms, and emoticons. They text each other, and due to short hand communication, they must be able to make a leap from three letters, LOL, to three words, laughing out loud. I know that each generation tends to have their own slang, most of which drove their parents crazy, but we had whole word slang. When I was a kid, for a while, the phrase “super-coolie-mojoe” was popular (it meant something was extraordinary or very good). Today, it would be shortened to SCM, LOL. And the thing is, the folks who use social media and cell phones would know exactly what it meant. How the heck did that happen?

Language changes, words change meaning and their placement in the sentence structure. Not just English, but every language goes through a constant reinvention. Those who spoke English in the days of Queen Elizabeth I, would have a hard time understanding much of anything someone in the days of Queen Elizabeth II would say – and vice versa. Today one world can be a noun, verb, participle, adverb, and adjective depending on its placement in the sentence structure and intonation derived from those placements. I really think I would rather speak Old English rather than modern text speak.

I know most of the world loathes diagramming sentences. I quite like it, because it gives order to my thoughts. Can you imagine trying to diagram a sentence written in text speak? “R U LOL at Joe’s new cut? Interrogative. Hummm. R is not a word. U is not a word. LOL is not a phrase, and Joe’s new cut is an incomplete sentence because the writer does not say what kind of cut. It could be a hair cut, an insult, decapitation, self harm, ditching class, or any number of things that go with the word cut.

Speaking of incomplete sentences, social media (the new buzz word for communication with friends and family) has brought the use of them to a high art. Or to a new low, depending on your point of view. I keep waiting for the rest of the sentence when I see something like, “Just sayin’.” You are just saying, WHAT? It isn’t even short hand speak, it is an incomplete sentence! One has to make that mental leap to modern slang and from there to what the topic is about, in one fell swoop. And one can
still get it all wrong if they make the wrong intuitive leap.

I thought it was awful when my boys would use words like “rad” and “bad” for things that were good or extraordinary when they were kids. Today people use English words in combinations that make absolutely no sense if the sentence is broken down. There is, of course, a whole new lexicon of words that didn’t exist until the advent of the age of technology. Although, that lexicon is in constant flux because of the ever changing nature of technology and science. I over heard a young man say to his friend, “You should YouTube that dude.” If you came from a place that didn’t have the computer site, YouTube, would you understand what he said? Oh, and the “dude” was a girl. In my day, “dude” meant a male who though he was the gift of the gods to the world. In my grandparent’s day, the word “dude” was applied to an effeminate male or what we would call a metrosexual guy today. While in my son’s world, “dude” was a male friend or person who generally sounded like he was a surfer dude who had one too many tokes from the blunt that was passed around at school.

I love the old time colloquialisms and “sayings” that my grandparents and writers of old used. Like Aesop’s Fables, a story could be told and a lesson learned in a few sentences. “Keep crossing your eyes like that, and they will get stuck.” always made me wonder why that would happen, leading all sorts of bizarre scenarios in my mind. (I know, weird, get past it.) I wonder what my, many times, great grandchildren will have as wise sayings from their grandparents. “Yo, Dude, not cool to dis your old lady. Ain’t gonna get no love dat way.” I think, “Son, treat a woman with respect, it is the only way you will ever get one to marry you,” is clearer and any English speaker ought to be able to understand the meaning of the sentence and sentiment therein.

Toddlers do not deal with ambiguity in their world of words. It is going to be interesting to watch our Addie learn to communicate in the world she will inherit. I am thinking, however, that she will have a more varied vocabulary than most kids her age.

Modern English is going to evolve into a homogeneous glob of single letters, anachronisms, and grunts. And one day the pendulum will swing back and one day, our progeny will look back on this era and laugh out loud as they say, “Doest thou believeth the language of thine fathers?” Or, they could just as easily be speaking Alpha Centarian too.

Forever Young

On September 11, 2014, my first born will be 40 years old. For many people that requires a birthday party with black balloons and silly “Over The Hill” banners. It has been almost 19 years since he moved on, and still we miss him every day. But my son, you see, is forever young.

If he were here, physically, he would be a proud father of his baby girl, and an even more proud grandfather to her baby girl. He would hug his girl, and spoil her girl, and still be a strong man to lean on when they needed him the most.

I don’t know what he would be doing as a profession, but I know it would be something outdoors. He hated being cooped up inside, no matter the weather. If it was hot, he would be off somewhere playing or fishing in the water. If it was cold, he would get up to all manner of things that required slipping, sliding, and general mayhem, with a bit of danger mixed in for spice.

I don’t know what his political bent would be, but I expect it would be about as conservative and his parents and brother tend to be. I don’t know if he would be religious, but I know he would be spiritual. I don’t know if he would like all the modern gizmos and technology, but I know he could master all of them quickly. I don’t know what kind of vehicle he would drive, but I know he would own a Harley.

But, I don’t need to know, because my son, you see, is forever young.

He would still like boxing, and loud music. Music that ranged from classical to heavy metal met his approval. He would still like reading and learning on his own, in his own way. He would still love to sit and talk with the elderly and people who captured his interest. He would still love to tinker with motors, even if they frustrated him every time he worked on one. He would still love his family, his friends, and impress strangers with his knowledge about all sorts of things. He would still give you the shirt off his back if you needed it, and make sure that you had something to eat if you were hungry. He would still support the Viet Nam Veterans, and give them all the honor they deserve. He would still want to hang out with his brother, and probably torment him as only a big brother can. He would still be our Arron. Because he knew that growing up didn’t mean becoming someone else, it just meant being more who you are. He was philosophical that way.

He would still get into fist fights, but maybe not as much. He would still stand up for the underdog, but he might not lose his temper over misjustice so easily. He would still protect his mother, wife, daughter, niece, or any other female in his life, but he wouldn’t put up with drama trauma from any female. Like most guys, it either made him uncomfortable, annoyed, or confused. He would still love his beer on a hot day, and his whisky on a cold night, and he would still sneak bites of dinner as it is being cooked.

He would still like to go shirtless while working outdoors, and he would still wear those motorcycle boots, no matter how hot it was. He would still wear 501 button down Levi jeans, Harley shirts, and the occasional button down with the sleeves torn out of it. He would still have his silver front teeth instead of changing the caps out for something like everyone else. And he would still have long hair, a beard, and wear an ear ring, even though he knows it bugs me.

He would still have his cheeky, wicked grin that told me he was up to something he shouldn’t be. He would still make me laugh at his irreverent humor, tell me that I looked like a dumpling, and tease me about everything I do, just to get me riled. He would still walk to the beat of his own drummer, follow his dreams, and fly his kite just the way he wanted to.

Yes, he would do those things, and he probably is doing just that where he is. Because, you see, my son is forever twenty-one.

Happy Birthday Arron. Welcome to the old fart club. I love you. Mom.

Forever Young.  Arron Glen Combs  September 1974 - Jan 1996.
Forever Young. Arron Glen Combs September 1974 – Jan 1996.


Kiss My Grits, GOP

paki's_flag_bearI received THIS in my email today:


I hate to bug you — but our records show you haven’t made a donation to the RNC.

Can you chip in $5 today?

There is a first time for everything.

Right now is the perfect time to make your first donation. A group of donors has recognized how critical these next few weeks are for the 2014 elections and has agreed to match every dollar you donate. So today, your $5 donation will count as $10 on our records.

Chip in $5 and double your impact today.


My Reply:

There is absolutely no argument you can give me that will ever cause me to donate to the Republican party again. I was on the fence about being a Tea Party Independent voter because I have always voted as a Republican. After the dirty tricks and downright voter fraud that Thad Cockerun committed when the Republicans in Mississippi voted the RINO out of office, I have no desire to be attached to an organization as crooked as the Republican party. Oh, I will keep my registration, mainly so I can vote out any incumbent who is as dirty as that old lizard. Thad should have retired ages ago, but he is hooked on the power, privileges, and money that he has accrued over the past 50 years. He has long since forgotten he is a PUBLIC SERVANT to the people who put him in office in the first place. Instead, he has become the Plantation Overseer, whipping the slaves into doing what he wants, even if the plantation owners, AKA the voters, are unwilling to support his behavior any longer.

He will still lose in November, because I can guarantee that every single democrat who voted for him (multiple times) in the Primary Run-Off will vote for the Democratic contender. All his machinations, lies, and promises to them make him no more than their yes man. He will have to jump when they say, and do as they want, even if he did somehow cheat his way back into office. So, I am going to write in the name of Chris McDaniel, like almost every other person who voted for him in the Primary. He WON the primary, and he won the run-off, via the Republican and Independent voters. The only what that creepy, moronic, lizard won was because he lied, cheated, and sold his soul to the evil that is the democratic (Socialist/Communist) party of the United States. If I couldn’t write in McDaniel’s name, I would rather vote for a democrat than someone as rotten as Thad. At least he would be a known enemy and not stab voters in the back like The Lizard Overseer did.

And you know what disgusts me the most? YOU LET HIM DO IT! In fact, he had to have your blessing in the GOP, or it would never have been sanctioned. Are you really so afraid of the pot head in chief and his minion, dope smoking, terrorist chums? Disgusting. Just down right disgusting. Take my name off your list, do not email or contact me again in ANY way, because I am now a Tea Party Independent – even if I do keep my affiliation with your crooked, lying, anti-American, Anti-Constitution party. Like I said, I am only doing so, because I want to vote out every single rotten career politician in what USED to be a party that believed in, and supported, the constitution as I do. And you have the unmitigated arrogance a for money to support a criminal. Words I want to use are the ones that would get my mouth washed out with soap, so I will simply say, “No, I will NOT send you five dollars. Your buddy Thad, and the GOP, can rot in hell for all I care. Go away. Leave me alone.

Karron Combs

Yeah, I am totally ticked off at the GOP. Independent leaning toward Libertarian is now my affiliation. Feeling very betrayed, and angry.