Saturday, March 10, 2012

Say what?

Just recently while watching a commercial on TV, I thought to myself, How cheesy that is!, and immediately followed with, How on earth would I explain "cheesy" to a non-native English speaker? It doesn't translate directly. I can't tell the person it's akin to "sappy", because then I'd have to explain that. Besides, "cheesy" doesn't really equate with "sappy". They're more like distant cousins. Let's see...when something makes you roll your eyes when it tries to be too sweet and heart-warming. How's that? Feel free to help me come up with something better.

Language is such a powerful tool...this is why, when I taught, I urged my students to use as many different words as they could in their writing. They (we) too often limit themselves to the handful they hear all the time. This is why English teachers have handouts such as "50 Alternatives to 'A lot'". That phrase gets overused by students a lot. Too often. Many times. To the point of absurdity. Tons. Quite a bit.

As I teach J to speak, I have to repeat myself to get him to say basics, of course. I repeat the words "hi", "Dada", and "Mama" myriad times (a lot). "Penny" also gets a lot of play. As he begins to listen, learn, and parrot, I want to remain conscious of words and phrases I use around him. What will he pick up? What will he pick up that I don't want him to? What do T and I repeat without even realizing it? It all just makes me think about language and why I love it and all its levels and nuances.

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