About, Language, Musings on Life

Malleability of Language

Having moved all over one of the things I have noticed in an immediate sense is the way my language is affected by those around me. I know we all have unique ways of speaking, the way we structure sentences are unique to us and our thought patterns. Even the way we speak can be unique, I know that I over annunciate. My speech habits though change. I find speech to be one of the more flexible things in my life, when I am around or listening to someone who curses more I pick up that language, even as I try not to.

Sometimes I can pinpoint where a phrase came from, other times they seem to appear out of thin air and I struggle to lose the phrase from my vocabulary. Most of the time, my patterns have to be pointed out to be because I do not notice them. In college I learned from my dad, my phrase was I know. I would respond to anyone I know. In Florida, I picked up the occasional and intentional use of y’all, which I still love. I also picked up the phrase same same, which I use to this day. The other word I found in Florida was sesquipedalian, meaning characterized by using long words. I heard from my husband on his word of the day calendar and for some reason I use that to this day. In Iowa, my dad informed me that I was using well or because to pause in a conversation but maintain control of the conversation. I also shifted talking about our church leader from minister to pastor. Now I cannot imagine saying anything other than pastor, although I am sure based on location that is likely to change as well.

Woman in the woods with open mouth glasses on head.
Oh speech, how you change.

My most embarrassing speech patterns have shown themselves recently towards the end of being in Iowa and here in New Hampshire. I started sarcastically saying you’re welcome, which if you know me is odd because I rarely if ever use sarcasm. The reality that I did that was one of those that as soon as I heard it come out of my mouth it made me cringe. I struggled to stop saying it and it was a real effort to take that out of my daily language. That pattern was replaced with the even more cringeworthy verbal statement hashtag followed by some larger theme. I have slowly worked that out of my daily usage.

I find though language to be a part of me that changes the most quickly and the one that is also hard to undo. Have you noticed changes in your speech based on location or even who you surround yourself with? Any phrases I should try to intentionally incorporate?

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