Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Adventures in the English Language

The Queen and I, like most people, enjoy a bit of ice cream now and again. "Premium" ice cream to be precise. Our guilty pleasure of choice used to be Ben & Jerry's until they sold out. Now we have a particular fondness for the Marble Slab Creamery chain of franchise ice cream stores. We don't go there very often because it's expensive and not terribly healthy as a regular thing, but it's tasty nonetheless. Besides, there are very few places I can find cinnamon ice cream which is a personal favorite. 

Now, why should you care about our personal choice of frozen treat vendors?

I shall endeavor to tell you. 

The Queen, an otherwise intelligent and educated woman who learned German the hard way, occasionally has what we will politely call "English as a Second Language" (ESL) moments or "adventures in interesting pronunciation or syntax." I think it is because she has a tendency to think in German while trying to speak in English, but that's just a guess on my part. 

For instance, once upon a time many years ago now, we were driving along the highway when she spotted a billboard advertising our favorite ice cream shop. The self same business I mentioned at the beginning.

The Queen says, "Hey, look! Marble Cream Slabbery!"

Me: "...." [blink, blink] "Say that again?"

The Queen patiently (she's a saint that way) says, "Marble Cream Slabbery."  

I, barrelling down the highway at 70 something miles an hour, gave her the side long glance which clues her in to think about what she's saying.

The Queen, whose inner light bulb is flashing like it's disco night at Studio 54, says "Wha...? Ohhhhh...." 

Giggle....snort, laugh, laugh, laugh. 

To this day, she has a mental block preventing her from saying "Marble Slab Creamery." 

But, wait, it gets better. 

She's now adding variations on the theme. 

As we headed to Galveston last night, The Queen brought up the subject of getting dessert, "Hey, maybe we can get some Marble Sleam Clabbery."

Me: "Sleam Clabbery???"

M&M: "No sleam."

The Queen: "Oh no."

Me: "How about some sleamed clabs for dinner?"

Things went downhill from there when we started trying to get her to pronounce "Worcestershire" as well. It was good for a solid 30 minutes of laughter which we both needed after not enough sleep. 


  1. You're a hoot....if I were to write such about SW she'd kick my butt.

    1. Stephen, the secret is to give her editorial oversight. Nothing gets published about The Queen without her express permission though changes have been made on occasion when the Royal Whim changed.

  2. I hate it when words get stuck and I can't fix them. Tell The Queen I feel for her :)

    1. GunDiva, The Queen appreciates your sympathy. She's got nothing on a lovely 70 something lady who provides The Queen with certain health related services that I am not at liberty to discuss. I never knew certain medical terms could be so tortured.

    2. oh my. medical terms. we sat at one of our friends kitchen table when he explained that one of our friends had recently become sick with "the organized eee-monia". they tend to put the word "the" in front of all sicknesses. i knew that he meant organized pneumonia and was just mis-pronouncing it. while we were there about 5 other people dropped by and were all told about the organized eee-monia as well. the funniest part was on the drive home when jambaloney said "we'll have to look up organized eee-monia when we get home - i've never heard of it". i laughed the whole way home - a full 15 minute drive. it took another 15 minutes of laughing before i could explain to jambaloney that he meant pneumonia. oh gosh it was funny!

    3. Kymber, I can relate. The Queen, being originally from California, used to put "the" in front of all highway designations. "The 20" instead of just 20 or I-20 as most people here in Texas do. She seems to have dropped tht in recent years though.

  3. It's a mark of intelligence. Have her look up William Archibald Spooner, Oxford Don from the turn of the last century.

    1. HH, it's a mark of something alright...usually uncontrollable laughter.

    2. It definitely causes such. I had a professor call Dickens's work A Tale of Two Cities "A Sale of two Titties." Odysseus had a teacher in high school do something similar with Huck Finn...

      Laughter is almost always the result.

    3. HH, Spooner's traditions live long and well in my family (Daddy Hawk, I was going to suggest the same thing as HH). I have freaked out friends because I can spoonerize words by syllables, not just first-consonant blends. Sometimes it kicks in even stronger when I'm tired and/or loopy, like the night I told a friend he had widerspebs up in his entryway corner.

      It's so rampantly done in my family that I have a series of phrases that I have to think VERY carefully about before I say them, because I have to remember which is right, and which is family lexicon, and which I should then use. To wit: "never yet," which usually starts as "yever net," (that one's my sister's fault); "fell swoop," for we always said "swell foop," which is how I always think it's supposed to go.

      I was both delighted and proud the day I heard one of my kids inform my husband that she needed to go to the kitchen to get some "san hanitizer."

      I don't think she even recognized what she did.

    4. HH, I had a high school history teacher who lectured about Alexander the Gay (pun fully intended on her part (HER nickname was Little Ceasar...funny story about that one).

      Auntie J, I think every family has their "Spoonerisms" so to speak. My mother skipped Spooner and went straight to "Thingie".

    5. people here on the island have been slamming words together for so long that they actually think they are words! like "dja-eet-jet" which is 'did you eat ye't? oh they also slam people's names together like dan aleckson is "duhnaleck" and john morgan is "jamorgan". then they simply just don't know how to pronounce their own names. john james is called "johnjaymus" and renee, which should be pronounced reh-nay, is pronounced "rainy". oh it is a hoot talking to the people around here. and then the place names. they murder them. one local place here is "L'Ardoise" pronounced properly as "Lard-wah"...but they call it lordways. oh man, sometimes it kills me!

      but The Queen is awesome. and that is all.

      your friend,

    6. Kymber, I'm not so sure it's slamming words as it is her brain getting ahead of her mouth.


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