Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Observations on the South and Southerhoodness (Part 3)

Pronunciation Problems

I am currently an existential alien in the South. So not really, but I hear that term a lot in one of my grad classes and I just wanted to apply it to real life. The truth is, for the most part, I fit in here. Apart from when I buy organic food, I only portray my west-coast foreignness when it comes to the pronunciation of certain words.

It usually goes something like this: I say a word or phrase. I get corrected on the word's "true" pronunciation. Then I argue. Then I try to use phonetic logic of the English language to strengthen my argument. Then I'm told I'm still wrong. Then I resolve to stop arguing with southern tradition and I go drink some sweet tea.

If you're curious how you would fare in the South, I have prepared this short quiz so that you may judge how you measure up to southern culture. Read each word aloud, paying careful attention to your pronunciation. After you have finished, read aloud the southern pronunciations to compare your results. Good luck.

1. Cairo
 (as in Cairo, Egypt or the lesser known Cairo, Georgia [not to mention on Dublin, GA, Athens, GA or Berlin, GA...Georgia is the little state of all the world])

 2. Cousin Will
(as in the son of your aunt or uncle who happens to be named Will)

3. Martinez
(as in the popular Spanish last name or as in Martinez, Georgia)

4. Pecans
 (as in the nuts often used in pies)

5. Pecan Pie
(as in the pie that often uses said nuts)

6. Vidalia
 (as in Vidalia onions from Vidalia, Georgia)

7. Beaufort
(as in Beaufort, South Carolina)

8. Men
(as in "I need some strapping men to help me get some tea")

Do you remember what you said? Now let's compare it with the proper southern pronunciations:

1. Cairo
pronounced [CARE-O

2. Cousin Will
pronounced [KUHZ-UHN / WHEEL]

3. Martinez
pronounced [MAHR-TIN-EZ]
not to be confused with [mahr-teen-ez]

4. Pecans
pronounced [PI-KAHN]

5. Pecan Pie
pronounced [PEE-CAN PAHY]
I don't know why you pronounce pecan differently when you are referring to the pie, but you do.

6. Vidalia
pronounced [VI-DAYL-YUH]

7. Beaufort
pronounced [BYU-fort]
and don't bother trying to explain that the word beau is pronounced BO, it will get you nowhere.

8. Men
pronounced [MEEYN]
...ok so I might be exaggerating this one a bit, but they really do throw in extra "y" sounds after vowels.

Scoring Guide:

5 to 8 correct:
You use the verb "fix" to describe most of your behaviors: you're fixing to go to school, you're fixing dinner, heck, you're even fixing yourself a glass of water. You are so southern, you're offended I'm not recognizing and paying homage to the many different southern dialects. You think Florida is a "Yankee State" and needs to detach itself from the southern part of the country and drift into the sea.

2 to 4 correct:
You may have read "Gone with the Wind" or just seen a few Matthew McConaughey movies (and right now the real southerners are offended that I would even use Matthew McConaughey as an example because he is actually from Texas) or listened to some Kenny Chesney in your day. You think Paula Deen is the quintessential South (which is unfortunate and you should never say that to a real southerner).

1 or fewer correct:
You fail at being southern. Go back to L.A.

And because this post didn't feature any pictures and I know it's hard to just read text (Karyn), I have included a picture of the market down the street from me.

GA Spelling of Hawaiian

But we'll get to southern spelling issues another day...
(In their defense, Hawaii is really far away)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On being a Cyborg

One thing I really dislike about Andrew's deployment is my increasing paranoia. I hate being home alone at night -- every noise makes me jump and I sleep with a camping hatchet. While I think a lot of women can relate to this "left-alone-to-fend-for-myself" fear, I may have taken things to a new level.

Over the last few years, I have become obsessed with the notion of cyborgs. Not so much cyborgs like Darth Vader or Data (Star Wars and Star Trek [Next Generation] if you are unfamiliar with these allusions), but the cyborgs that can take over other people's bodies and the rest of the world doesn't know it. In fact, this idea has become a popular theme in recent fiction, such as John Locke and Mad-Eye Moody (LOST and Harry Potter if you are equally unfamiliar with these allusions) -- just to name a few.

However, there is a more pertinent example from my childhood that really started all of this. It involves one Carl Winslow of Family Matters.


It wasn't a cyborg episode per se, but a valuable one nonetheless. As you probably know, Carl is/was a cop. In fact, he worked with the same partner his whole career (or so I remember). In the climax of this particular episode, Carl had been trying to capture some thug/hoodlum/bank robber. When he arrived back at his office after unsuccessfully trying to locate the man-at-large, he suspected something was amiss in his office. His "partner," was in the other room behind a closed door and Carl decided to ask him a series of questions to make sure everything was ok. After what seemed like an innocent enough interaction, Carl finally said, "alright, I'll see you tomorrow." To which the man responded, "alright then." At this point Carl suddenly turns and karate-kicks down the door. The suspected criminal had actually broken into the office and had tied up Carl's partner and was holding the detained partner at knife (gun?) point and forcing to him to answer through the door. And how did Carl know something wasn't right? -- because for the last however many years, anytime Carl said, "I'll see you tomorrow" to his partner, the man always responded, "not if I see you first."

Bam. Just like that, cyborg crisis averted with a little shared, inside knowledge. I've realized how important it is to have some catch phrase or inside question to ask the "person" just to be sure. What if one of you suddenly showed up at my door? How could I be sure it was you and not a robot or someone just dressed to look like you? What could Dumbledore have asked Mad-Eye Moody that would have solved so many problems (because you never know who's been taking Polyjuice Potion) in The Goblet of Fire?

Therefore, I have come up with a series of cyborg-proof questions for my friends. If you cannot properly answer your question(s), I have reason to doubt your humanity and must dub you indeed, a cybernetic organism. I don't claim these questions to be easy, but you must rack your human memories to come up with an accurate semblance of an answer.

Kendra: When we were little and shared a room, we would often argue over who would get the last word at night. What word, if said early on, cemented your right to have the final say of the night? Bonus Question: What did you say your name was when you were little?

Kari: In college, when we were super bored one weekend, we made collages from magazines that included our "perfect" lives. Who was I married to? Who were you married to? Bonus Question: What club did we think would be so super awesome to visit that turned out to be a total bust?

Sarah Officer: Name two ways I tried to secretly stop you and Amy from snoring at night. Bonus question: name all four ways.

Sarah Whaley Johnson: What tried to kill us while we were praying on the roof in Jamaica? Bonus Question: What opera did you, me, Karyn and Holly see together where everyone feel asleep before intermission?

Karyn: What mythical creature did you claim to see multiple times in the field by your house? Bonus question: What is my brother's real name?

KeriAnn: What letters or phrases did we spray paint on the sheds of the Corban soccer fields? Bonus Question: What stranger bit your shoulder at a soccer game?

Sharaya: When we "stalked" boys in high school, what song was on our essential soundtrack?

Amanda Brown: What did my strange hippie neighbor name her equally strange daughter who was "too cool for school" towards me at the pool the summer you lived with us?

Rachel Brown:  What sappy Christian romance novel did we discover be had both read multiple times?

Elizabeth Brown: How did I almost get us killed by a street gang in Spain?

Aunt Kathy: What was the first dessert I ever brought to your house in order to make a good impression?

Carmen: Where did we go shopping the first time we officially met?

Kayla J: What book did I actually want to read for the Finer Things Club before (unfortunately) suggesting we all read Angela's Ashes?

Jenny: What animal seems to be a recurring theme in our "how to be a graduate student" class?

Sarah Y.: What Whitney Houston song did we dance to on several occasions which really just included us jumping up and down and skipping around for the entire duration of the song? Bonus Question: When someone defaced my 7th grade science book, what innocuous word did I spell from the profaned letters?

Mandy: Which author did you pretend not to know the name of during an extremely annoying game of 20 questions?

Audrey: When we carpooled to Medford together, you took a freeway corner a little too fast and I dumped something all over your car. What was it?

Mom and Dad: You never read this blog because you don't know how to use the internet. Cyborgs wouldn't find your minds super helpful in their technological quests. I love you anyways.

Andrew: You can't have a cyborg question because you're already part cyborg and we both know you don't have the greatest memory anyway. I'm going to have to come up with a different safety plan for us. Not to mention, I know you would never let a cyborg take over your body anyway.

Good luck. Feel free to question my own humanity, although it is clear no cyborg could have accomplished this list in his or her own doing. I hope you take this forum seriously and come up with a cyborg game plan of your own and post it next to your fire safety plan. Picard would be proud.