Monday, December 3, 2007

envelope, on-velope

standing in line in the post office a mother came in with a little girl. "put the on-velopes in the slot," said the mother, and the girl made her way through the people to the slot. i thought to myself: is that a new york pronunciation? i grew up saying "envelope." but was that what my classmates said? or was i copying my western-born parents?

growing up in suburbs is to lack a common origin. i don't even know if my pronunciation of this word is due to the "local" pronunciation or that of my family. i don't even know what "the local" is. or was.

the mother steadfastly avoided making any eye contact with the people in line. she kept her attention focused steadily on her daughter. many people who live here would feel bound to make a small gesture of politeness, such as a quick smile to the person nearest her, an acknowledgement of the cuteness of the girl. this habit is not because of any local custom or practice, but the lack of one. in this lack, people are super polite.

so i concluded, from two pieces of evidence, that the mother came from new york. it is amazing. even with such a blurred notion of place and origin, we can still find clues -- we still dare draw conclusions.

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