armchair linguist

Yesterday an ex-colleague emailed me with some news about a client at my former firm. Thinking about the mechanics and strategies of employment litigation and the clients I remember very well, of course provided me with one of those rare moments where I really, really, really miss my former life.

But I am so grateful I’m in London. I spent too many years making decisions based on what would be least disruptive to my life: choosing JMU over Vassar, refusing to study abroad, only attending law school when my LSAT scores were in danger of expiring, thinking the Peace Corps seemed too long. The path of least resistance is paved with streets you can navigate without glasses (spectacles) despite astigmatism in both eyes. If you know what I mean.

There are constant reminders of wonder here, and often in the form of language. When I write an email to an American friend and my American gmail spell-check picks up “analyse” as an error, I smile at how comfortable I have gotten at work writing emails spelled correctly with centre, colour, strategise, favourite, judgement, cheque, defence, programme, counselling, travelling, whilst, spelt and the use of terms like pitch up or keen.

And like any foreign language, I love to discover a word that has no proper analogue in American English. That’s why Americans still say joie de vivre, m.o., bodega… how else to possibly explain the thing. Like those Inuit and their 50 words for snow or the many Greek words for love.

A word I love here is “gutted”. Not so much devastated, wrecked, or inconsolable. Gutted. It’s the only way to describe that particular way of feeling. I imagine an actual fish cleaned out, left to flesh, fat and bones in a swift second. I hope you never feel gutted, but if you do, be sure to use the word to describe.

Oh yeah, so Iota won the chocolate. But had said I didn’t need to mail them to the U.S. So man, that giveaway really worked out for me.



Filed under music - HA!, translation

3 responses to “armchair linguist

  1. mira

    Gutted- great word, thanks! Hope I never have to use it. I really admire the way you have picked up the local lexicon–I bet you’re fitting right in!

  2. Yay! (is that a word you miss?)

    And do you feel you have acclimatised, or just acclimated? Or do you compromise with acclimatized, perhaps?

  3. I like the word “gutted” too. Never heard that. I’ll have to try using that. Maybe it’ll become the cool new word in the states.

    BTW, I gave you an award for an Uber Amazing Blog. I do love living vicariously through you. We can’t just get up a move right now because it would be too hard to sell our house today, but we think about it often.

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