Language

Ok, it’s time for the ROW80 check-in. I missed the last one due to a power outage compounded with a few personal issues. Argh, I hate it when life gets in the way of my writing. Sigh. We’ll just call this week a fail up to now and focus on catching up by next Sunday.  Oh well time for something in a different vein.
Recently I have come under a bit of criticism for my excessive use of terms of endearment in my writing. I’ve also been chastised for not using enough contractions. Ok, fair enough, I do use a lot of terms of endearment, but language is a truly beautiful thing. By being conscious of the way we speak, and deliberately manipulating that, we can create beautiful things. Here’s an example of a conversation I heard long ago out west.
A man walks into a coffee shop where he has not been before. The girl behind the counter is a stranger to him.
Girl. “What’ll ya have?”
Man. “Coffee, black. Make it snappy.”
“For here or to go?”
“To go.”
“Buck fifty please. Thank you, have a nice day.”
“Right.” Man walks out.
Now, let’s do it again as it would happen in Newfoundland.
Girl. “Yes m’love, what’ll it be today?”
Man. “Tall and black, my darling. I’m a bit pushed for time.”
Girl. “For here or to go?”
“To go.”
“There you go, my ducky. That’s a dollar fifty. Thanks Luv, have a great day now.”
“Bless your heart, my darling.” Man walks out.
I have been asked many times why people stay in Newfoundland, the climate is hard and life isn’t always easy, but people always want to go back there, why? Well the use of language is one reason, I’m sure. Those lilting voices and gentle terms of endearment are a big draw, definitely one of the reasons I stay here.
So I give you this, if you want a loving and happy life, speak loving and happy words. It is easy to be cynical or negative, but it breeds more of the same.  Use the words you speak each and every day to create a beautiful and loving life for yourself. Go ahead, try it. What have you got to lose?

20 thoughts on “Language”

  1. KM HuberKM Huber

    I am with you, Prudence, and your examples are perfect! I live in the U.S. South and if nothing else, we draw out any conversation, sprinkle it generously with as many syllables as we can, and smile a lot.

    Great post!
    Karen

  2. Kayelle AllenKayelle Allen

    How fun! I like the idea of the different voices and ways of saying the same thing. Gives me an idea for a future blog post. And hang in there with Row80!

  3. Suzan ButlerSuzan Butler

    Hang in there! Don't get discouraged. Life happens. I happen to use a lot of endearments in my writing too, along with a lot of cursing. LOL. Sometimes, you just need to slow down and smell the roses to be happy. 🙂

  4. Sara Walpert FosterSara Walpert Foster

    Language is so powerful. I love that the Newfoundland people in your example are able to handle a rushed moment with such kindness and grace. I agree that how we say things really impact how we and others feel.

  5. charismaloycharismaloy

    Okay, I am from the west (a little southwest of the wonderful Miss Pru), and I work in a place where I sell coffee (among other things). I have to admit that during the busy times, my coffee sales conversation sounds mych like the first example. This past winter, I have been experimenting with the idea of positive thought and speech, not just in when I am in a good mood, but all ways. Okay, so I am human and I fail occasionally, but on the days (they are growing in number with practice) when I remember to think positively, terms of endearment flow naturally, (possibly absorbed from my grandparents who were nearly all transplants from the southern and midwestern states). When I am obviously in a enough of a hurry at Walmart that I take my purchases to jewlery to check out, the checker dreads it. Therefore it is quite satisfying when, with the use of a few tender terms of endearment, I get a real smile out of them. In this day and age I say use terms of endearment liberally. Few enough do, and you never know when the last time the person in front of you heard those word directed at them. You cannot overuse loving words, not in everday life. Those who mean the most to you will know the difference between you throwing out a m'dear to the teller at the bank and you calling them my dear. It's in the voice one is a throwaway, one is a treasure. Keep it up girl! You make lotsa people feel good!

  6. Dahnya OchDahnya Och

    Hi Prudence!

    It's funny you mention this about language. I'm originally from the East Coast in the US… and people are so uptight and unfriendly there. A few years ago, I moved to Seattle on the West Coast in the US, and everyone is so much nicer! I'm one of those people that loves to talk to a cashier or server (I've been both of those in the past). I asked a server one day how they were doing, and he was shocked – no one, during his entire six hour shift, had asked him that. It made me really sad.

    Good luck for the rest of this week on your goals!

  7. Eden MabeeEden Mabee

    Gentle Prudence,

    I don't know if I can agree with Dahnya that people on the East Coast are uptight and unfriendly (I can say from many exposures that New York City actually holds some of the friendliest city people I've met, but they often seem otherwise out of distraction…but if you need help, you'd be surprised and delighted).

    And it's quite frequent that we have social banter in lines here in Upstate NY. I've actually made several wonderful real life friends via discussions with cashiers and baristas. Joy is where you look for it…and I choose to find it (or make my own if I see none near).

    I cannot tell you what to write, Prudence, but part of that is because I think you're doing it just right. Maybe not all characters in all conversations, but it adds a valuable quality to the world of your fiction.

  8. Christopher HudsonChristopher Hudson

    My pop was a Newfie, and he was one of the gentlest, most loving humans I've known. I rest your case.

  9. Jennette Marie PowellJennette Marie Powell

    Funny reading this today – I just finished one of your books (I'll post a review soon!), and I noticed this right away. At first it struck me as odd, but then I decided it was probably just colloquial speech. Glad to see my intuition was right! And yes, it does add to a story, and helps characterize place – here in the U.S., people on the East coast are certainly more hurried (though not necessarily rude). OTOH, Southerners are way more laid back, and it shows both in their speech and in their business dealings. None is better than the others; they're just differences that add flavor and interest to our writing – and in life.

    Oh, and the book of yours? I picked it up the day before you reviewed mine. Who knew? LOL

  10. Pat O'Dea RosenPat O'Dea Rosen

    Newfoundland's now on my bucket list. I like terms of endearment. One of my favorites in my part of Texas is "baby." Picture an older-than-middle-aged check-out clerk addressing everyone from a rig worker to a teenage girl that way.

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