Wednesday, February 17, 2010

peanut butter

the other night my dad told me that when i was little and they took me to disney world (or land?) i had just learned the word 'peanut butter.' as we walked about the park, i kept repeating the word, sometimes shouting it out.

i laughed hearing this. glomming onto new words and then randomly and annoyingly using them in any possible situation is exactly how i learn them. i remember as a second grader annoying classmates with the teacherly rejoinder to whatever they said to me at recess, 'that's not necessary.' or with the neighbor kids one day, repeating over and over the 50's-english phrase, read in a tintin book, 'its a rum thing, mr. Mate, the longboat has vanished.' ('crab with the golden claws,' i believe)

i do it a lot in foreign languages when i am trying to learn them. and this habit leads to me usually learning the weird sounding, quirky words (like 'rum thing' and 'peanut butter), faster than the solid, useful words. like korean 'posong-posong hada,' for fluffy, or madurese 'apukulu-puk,' for flip and flop, or arabic 'kerkedeh,' for that deep red flower that brews into a delicious drink. . can't think of the name now. right, hibiscus. sara has regretted telling me some of her dad's crusty, crass taiwanese expressions, used inevitably to blast bureaucratic namby-pambying or absurd unreason. i grab up a funny sounding word with the delight of a little boy picking up a shiny new toy. and whatever it's meaning, i invest the very sound of the word with my own delight.

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