How do you Speak?


With being a manager of a museum I interact with many sorts of people. With having a degree in English, I listen to these speak. Now I can’t blame this all on having a degree in English. Part of it was growing up with my father and extended family. We tend to have a subtle, sarcastic humor. I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this but my dad and I have the sense of humor where we gently twist what we say to see if people are paying attention to what we say, they usually are about 2 sentences ahead of us so they don’t get the joke for about 5 minutes. I’ve said stuff in conversations with friends where they keep talking and I’m laughing at what I said and they stare at me and then realize what happened and start laughing too.

Quick story: I used to work at a clothing store with a database of frequent customers and I would ask for a last name and people would say it and would start to spell it and I would end it for them. They would look at me like they were impressed and I would shrug it off as in having a degree in English.

So language, the use of it and the proper use of a language is important to me. I think it’s partly why I understand foreign languages to an extent and why I excel in music.

With listening like I do, I hear how people use their words and I’ve caught myself being in a bad rut of judging people. I work with a lady that will use double negatives and her grammar isn’t great. It makes me cringe listening to her. I constantly find myself thinking “She doesn’t have the same education as you” which is true. But not every non-educated person has bad grammar. Louis L’Amour (Fellow NoDaker Yay!) dropped out of school and became a go-to western writer.

When I meet people for the first time, if I’m not told where people are from, I like to try to guess their background from how they speak. Or I’ll at least try to place how they speak or use their words to relate how others from the region would speak.

An author I’d like to point out is Lief Enger. His first novel was Peace Like a River. I was working in the tourist town of Medora, North Dakota at that time and I was in the book store and I read the first chapter of this book. I was entranced by the language. The author grew up in Minnesota and a journalist or former journalist, I’m not sure. I like his language because it was, I think, influenced on the old-timer cowboy who knew how to tell a story around a campfire. I love that type of story telling because it reminds me of growing up around farmers and cowboys. If you were wondering I only gave the book a 3 star rating on goodreads because as much as I loved the writing and the voice, I just couldn’t for whatever reason, fully envelop myself in the story.

I love reading books with a great voice to them (accurate voice, techincally). It helps take me away from what I’m going through and puts me into someone else’s space. It’s relaxing. I also like listening, in books and real life, to how people choose to state things. Do they put it positively or negatively? Are they happy or mad and how do they express that to others? I’m fascinated, obviously.

Anyway. Listen to how people talk, their words, their intonation. You’ll learn a lot about them without them saying. Where they’re from, what they’ve been through. You’ll always learn something.


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