Wot Yow dooin (a very pacific post)

Thursday, 3 November 2011 1 comments
I often cringe when I hear people use the word ‘pacifically’. Now, I don’t have a personal vendetta against this word in particular, in fact it would be ironic if I did, as I believe it means to do something peaceably or in a peaceable manner. I can also imagine it means to do something in the way of the Pacific Ocean, but I doubt that anyone would ever do something in the way of the Pacific Ocean (as we are not oceans, we are people) so I don’t think that can be an official meaning. What I dislike so much about pacifically is that more often than not the person using it actually intends to use the word SPECIFICALLY. Which has a lot less to do with peace OR oceans. Having started to write this post I just had a mini panic that maybe I’d missed something and when people wanted to convey that they meant ‘something in particular’ the word to use WAS in fact pacifically, but the all knowing interweb tells me no, so I think I’m good to continue without excess humiliation. I wonder how hard it can be to use the ‘s’? Can people not hear the difference? Maybe it’s like me with my singing... I sound like a great singer to me but have been reliably informed many times that I am in fact completely tone deaf with no musical ability whatsoever. Now you may think I’m over reacting about the specifically thing, and maybe I am, I’m not great at spelling myself and although I take pride in attempting to use grammar correctly, I’m not going to pretend to be a great grammatist (I may have even made that word up). I went to your bog standard comprehensive school where we had more lessons on how not to get pregnant than we did on the correct use of the apostrophe or even how to spell ‘cat’. I think I have developed this dislike of pacifically specifically because pacifically is not a made up word, it’s the wrong word, it means something else, it’s rude to specifically (who I can almost hear crying out every time someone says pacifically when they mean specifically) and I think pacifically maybe getting too much of an ego. Pacifically doesn’t deserve his new found fame, he hasn’t worked for it, he has stolen it, stolen it from poor old specifically specifically.


Recently I have been wondering a lot about language, diction and dialect. Isaac is a fairly quiet baby and doesn’t really say much, I chatter away to him all the time and he interacts well with his pals, he just doesn’t seem to feel the need to vocalise much. When encouraging him to speak I want to a) make it easy for him and b) start off as I mean to go on. So that’s best done using ‘proper’ English right? Should be easy enough, after all I am English myself so how hard can it be? Well, now I’ve started noticing things I’m saying and words I’m using and it turns out my English is pretty far removed from that which I imagine it should be, with or without my feelings on the correct usage of specifically/pacifically. I was born near Birmingham and grew up in an area close to there known as ‘The Black Country’, which initially has lovely connotations of the industrial revolution, lovely that is until you realise there was nothing romantic about the industrial revolution and certainly nothing romantic about the many recessions and subsequent declines in the manufacturing industries that give the area much of it’s ermm ‘charm’.
When I grew up I never knew I had an accent and I never heard any of my friends speak with an accent, sometimes when I was on holiday people would laugh at my ‘brummie’ accent, which was confusing as I didn’t live in Birmingham so obviously wasn’t a brummie. My everyday conversational interactions would include phrases such as “wot yow dooin?” (what are you doing?) “youm saft yow am” (you’re silly), “om gonna lomp yow” (i’m going to hit you), and the slightly random “ooo it ay arf black ova bills muvas” (it looks like it may rain, or sometimes, it looks like there may be trouble). I found that as I didn’t hear these at home (my parents being from Yorkshire and Scotland) I could easily drop and pick up the dialect depending upon who I was speaking to, which I have found useful since moving out of the area, although people ‘in the know’ will still sometimes pick me out as a ‘Yam Yam’. I rarely use these phrases now but I do still have the accent and occasionally (especially when ‘het up’ about something I slip into a bizarre mixture Black Country Scots. I didn’t realise until I was fairly old that I had collected some ’non-standard’ words from my mother’s Scottish heritage. I kid you not; I didn’t know that these weren’t the actual words for these things until I was surprisingly old. I did and still do use ‘slater’ for a woodlouse, ‘oose’ for some fluff or lint, ‘peely wally’ for someone who is peaky or pale looking. Add to this the fact that Isaacs’s daddy uses some completely random words like ‘woogley’ for a daddy long legs and ‘stotie’ for a bread roll and it’s no wonder Isaac isn’t too chatty. My guess is he’s probably waiting to hear the queen’s speech on Christmas Day in order to get some clarity in the language department. I’m going to be paying attention too, but only so I can ensure the correct usage of poor old doomed specifically.

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