Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mamas and Papas

Two day's ago I was reading an old Time magazine. One article quoted Victoria Osteen saying "Our Daddy G-d is the strongest!"

I remembered that during my youth—and later employment—in parochial school, some preachers/teachers/spiritual-cheerleaders found it helpful to argue that there were places in the bible where the writer referred to the paternal role of a deity with a word closer to "daddy" than "father" in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, Koine Greek, Old English or whatever.

Then about twenty minutes ago I read something a friend had written, and she used the phrase "my mom". This was a very light, very tongue-in-cheek exchange, and yet I couldn't bring myself to write "your mom" in my response. It just didn't feel right.

Then about sixteen minutes ago, I saw that earlier today John McIntyre posted his thoughts on this very topic as regards journalistic conventions. He, like me, tends away from the less familiar 'Mom' (and I assume the same goes for 'Dad').

I know this is influenced largely by the fact that I refer to my parents as 'Mother' and 'Father.' My friends have always thought this sounded stilted and distant. But those are for me the less loaded terms. Calling them 'Mom' and 'Dad' strikes me as similar to calling my sisters "Sis."

To be clear: I'm not saying that this is what the words mean, or that other people should equate the words that way, or that I even hear it this way when other people speak. This is my idiolect that I'm talking about. All my sisters refer to our parents as 'Mom' and 'Dad' and it doesn't sound odd to me. Somewhere along the line, many many years ago, I attached some sort of overly familiar—and somehow, at the same time, distant—spin to those words. I recognize that my reaction to uttering Mom and Dad isn't in line with general use and connotation.

McIntyre writes that the formality offers respect and that it creates a distance, and I think the paradox of my usage arose out of an attempt to do the former but not the latter.

The old preachers' claims about a heavenly "daddy" versus "father" strikes me as simple and silly. I'm not a biblical languages scholar, but I do know that there is such a range of familiarity in these terms, and it's driven by individual preferences, and there's a wide and sprawling variety of connotations for words like dad and daddy and dada and da and pa and papa and pappy and pops and father and old man

If Mrs Osteen wants to argue that her daddy in the sky is stronger than ours, that's fine. But once she argues that her daddy told us to call him Daddy, I'm calling shenanigans. That father doesn't speak English.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Who's who at Bonnaroo?

Jay Karas (he's a real person) got this photo of a couple at Bonnaroo, but didn't get their contact information. He's started a group on Facebook, just to find them and share the picture with them.

Join up and let's see if anyone can identify them make the connection.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Does this sound all right to you?

I know most of my readers are American, but does that sound like a convincing British accent?

Before you decide to use the tutorial to infiltrate the London scene, read John Wells's simple and detailed explanation of where Tracy Goodwin gets it all wrong.

[Update: They say there's no such thing as bad press, as long as they spell your name right.

I think Ms Goodwin would prefer they mangle her name. My thanks to OSF for providing this link in the comments.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

But I hate science fiction

Here's the latest meaningless meme. I plugged in several of my favorite posts and I got the following results:

Arthur C. Clarke
H.P. Lovecraft
Edgar Allan Poe
David Foster Wallace
Arthur Conan Doyle
Ray Bradbury
J.K. Rowling

Lovecraft and DFW came up several times. The posts that used a lot of technical terms tended to go towards Lovecraft and the poems where I was expressing frustration thru sarcasm leaned towards DFW. I think the Rowling came from a flowery sappy post.

So I then decided to plug in some of my academic papers. A paper I wrote on Virginia Woolf came out like Lovecraft. OK. So I plugged in a paper I wrote about the Navajo Code Talkers. Again: Lovecraft.

And the paper I wrote on Chaucer's Reeve's Tale:

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

So I guess Ulysses wasn't overrated after all.