Words and Language

I am fascinated by the history of words and different languages. You’d think that would mean I speak a lot of different languages, right? Nah, I married a linguist instead. LOL Ok, that’s not why I married him, but it’s a definite plus!

When I met my husband, I was beginning to study Russian. I was already working towards a goal I had made for myself to understand and speak some Russian because my heart’s dream was to help out in a Russian orphanage. God had different plans though, obviously, because instead I have spent the better part of the last 16 years in Japan, instead. And, while I did get to briefly interact with and help out a bit with some of the orphans here and I have zero excuse for not being fluent in Japanese, I am so familiar with the Japanese language that when I hear it spoken I can often understand what is being spoken, the idea anyway. The sound of the Japanese language has become like music in my ears, a comforting background that used to be more of a culture shock. Now when I visit family in the States, the background language is often Spanish, and it sends me into a type of culture shock that says, “Wait! Something is not right here!”.

As a Christian, I often use what I call “Christianise” (I didn’t come up with that “word”, but I can’t remember where I got it from). As much as I dislike many of the “key” phrases that have become sort of cliche’-like and habitual rather than heart-felt, I speak this often around other Christians, because it’s how we relate and identify with each other.
In our home we have a few token Japanese phrases and words we use. We also have developed our own “family” language which consists of words and phrases David and I have come up with naturally over the years, and then has been added to as our children were/are learning to speak and as our relationship with each child grows. I won’t give the name of the child, but one funny phrase we often jokingly remember is when one child told my mom over the phone, “I went poopie for chocolate!!” because I used chocolate chips as a reward for a job well done. When my daughter was learning to speak, she would tell us confidently, with her green toy phone rattle, that she had to make a “cone fall”. The moon will forever be known to us as “the banana moon”, we often tickle each other’s “armpicks”. One of our favorites is the “earwax” plane that Jonathan just loves to see. This is one of my very favorite parts of being a mommy: watching my children grow, and seeing the creativity and learning process each child uniquely goes through. I love my job!!!

The words people use say a lot about the person saying them, to me. It’s often easy to see someone’s heart through what they say and how they say it, whatever their passion is comes through in their language. I find that fascinating! I can learn more about a person through the words they choose to use than through what I see them doing, often times, and that has many times helped me to either be able to identify with them, or realize I can’t identify with them, and I need to find something we have in common so we can have positive interactions.

Of course, if they speak Swahili only: I am out of luck!

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