As a continuing unrepentant language cop, I really had thought of laying off criticizing those electronic message boards that greet visitors.
Yes, since it’s summer, when most of the schools are in recess, there hasn’t been much to report. But if there is a bit of criticism, I aim it at the fact that a number of the signs appear to have gone on summer break, along with teachers and students.
Several months back, I faulted Sierra Vista Elementary School staff for carrying stale information. I won’t really say the info was old, but Moses reportedly was seen on Legion Drive, carrying a couple of tablets with 10 instructions, some misspelled. The day after I brought the dated information to the attention of Optic readers, the sign went off. And it hasn’t been on since.
The sign in front of Tony Serna Elementary is off, as is the one on Mills near Robertson High School.
One that remains illuminated — and let’s see if any modifications follow this announcement — calls for a mandatory parents’ meeting (the meeting, not the parents, is mandatory). Apparently, if students wanted to join a certain program, months ago, having one’s parents there was required.
After those letters faded, the screen that replaced them mentioned some kind of “collarboration.”
Now waaiitt a minute. “Collarboration”? Methinks that word choice might have been deliberate. At least that’s the tack Sister Mary Yankelvich, our homeroom teacher, used at Immaculate Conception School when I was in junior high. S.M. Yankelvich (with emphasis on the Yank), would announce a mandatory meeting, or parent-teacher-student conference, and if we balked, our collar would become a noose.
A few years back, local high school seniors took home notes from the secular school announcing baccalaureate services that, the note said, were mandatory. A number of students correctly reasoned that, “Hey, that’s a religious service and some of us belong to different faiths, or to none at all.” Like magic, “mandatory” became “optional.” It would have been better had the distinction been made before concerns arose of mixing church and state matters.
Fortunately, there was no “collarboration” needed. But if our homeroom nun had become angry over our unwillingness to attend mandatory meetings, the word “cholerboration” might also have applied.
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As I get older, I find it necessary to ask people to repeat things I failed to understand. What? Me losing my hearing? But even more disturbing is my having to repeat things, sometimes twice.
How often has this happened to you? You speak to a clerk, and well into the discourse, he or she interrupts with “what?” Well, the above-mentioned I.C. teacher would never approve of that. No, we’d need to say, “Please?” “Pardon me?” or “Excuse Me?” but never “what?” or “huh?”
I wonder whether some young people are simply programmed not to hear the first few words of a customer’s statement. No matter what! When that happens, and it happens more frequently than I wish to admit, I either blame myself for failing to articulate or merely assume the other person wasn’t listening.
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When people mangle a common expression, it’s easy to assume they’ve only heard that expression but not seen it in print. That’s why I cringed when on local radio I heard all about, “The mare and city council” and “Taxpairs (or taxpears or taxpares).”
The most amusing expression was, “I didn’t bite into the conversation.”
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For more than a year, I’ve been trying to acquire a reading knowledge of French. Like most languages, French has a number of cognates, words similar to their English equivalent. And sometimes, French simply plucks out whole words, and we get terms like “le weekend.” English does the same thing.
Something quite new to me deals with the plethora of social network groups like Twitter and Facebook and their influence on the language. It was amusing to hear a man and woman conversing at the rec center, with the male reminding the girlfriend to have her computer on that night “para Facebuquiar.”
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The Spanish word for “namesake” is “tocayo.” Attorney Art Vargas often approaches me with “Yo se que eres mi tocayo, pero no me acuerdo tu nombre.”
All right, Tocayo, Art Vargas. If you know I’m your namesake, then you remember my name. And yours.
Getting effluent water at the plant south of town Monday, I met a city employee who cheerfully did his job of jumping on to the back of my son’s pickup, attaching the hose and filling up our 250-gallon container.
As the man chatted with my wife, Bonnie, I heard him tell her he’s my tocayo. His name is Art Rivera. The next time I see my namesake at the plant, I plan to say, “I know you’re my tocayo, but I can’t remember your name.” I wonder if I’ll get away with it — or is that just for lawyers?
Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.