TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1400 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
Texas Hotels
 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Lost in Translation

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
I suppose it's a natural function of age that makes our conversations and word usage change from time to time. When I read that sentence back it doesn't make a lot of sense, but I'll try to explain.

Last week, my wife and I took a little time off to recharge our batteries. When I told our youngest son we were going to be gone and how to call us if he needed, I told him…."your mother and I are on the lam."

He replies…"What Lamb?"

"The lam…not the lamb."

"Who's lamb? Why do we know that has a lamb?"

I then discovered he had no clue as to what I was talking about, so I screwed it up further by adding…."Yeah, she's my moll and we're headed out, but we aren't carrying a gat or a rod or a heater of any kind."

He answers…"It's not cold…why would you need a heater?"

Then the phone went dead for a period of time and then he finally says…"Dad, are you OK? Is something wrong?"

I started laughing and tried to explain, but I'm afraid it got lost in the translation and ended up taking longer and got less funny by the minute. By the time I finished explaining, I was worn out and wished I hadn't started the whole thing in the first place.

It got me to thinking that each generation must have it's own slang and application of various words. The word 'bad' can mean one thing to one generation and something entirely different to another. It's almost like trying to speak a foreign language. Folks my age have a hard time understanding nearly anything a teenager might have to say today.

To complicate matters, think about the differences in the way men and women speak to each other. Yesterday, my wife asked me, "Have you done such and such?".

I immediately got on the defensive and told her that I had not had time to do anything yet, but I was working on it as fast as I could. She wanted to know why what she had said had set me off. I told her it was the way she asked. She wanted to know what would have been a better way to ask.

I thought about it and said, "Well, if you had phrased it like this….'Are you going to do such and such', then it would have been a lot better."

"Why?" she asked.

"I don't know, it just sounds better and doesn't put me on the spot."

Well as you can imagine, we went round and around on this one. She claims it sounded the same to her, no matter which way the question was asked. I said that using the word "are" instead of "have" implied that whatever needed to be done could still be done. The word 'have' was a question with the implication that it needed to be done already.

Does any of this make any sense? I hope so.

Last night we had dinner with our youngest son again. The one who didn't know the difference between lam and lamb. He agreed with me that the word 'are' instead of 'have' was much easier to deal with and wasn't as threatening.

My lovely wife still could not see the difference and then comes up with the theory that men don't like to be questioned on something they don't have an answer for. Her explanation is that using the word 'are' gives men a pass since they can always say…"sure, I plan on doing that today or tomorrow or whenever I get time." Using the word, 'have' puts men on the spot and narrows the time frame as in, "Have you taken out the trash?"


If she had phrased it as, "are you going to take out the trash?" A man can easily answer in the affirmative and not have that guilt hanging over him because he hadn't gotten to whatever it is he was supposed to have taken care of.

I'm certain someone has probably done some type of scientific study on discussions like this. Men don't like being placed on the spot and not having a definite answer for some question. Why is this?

Who knows? It doesn't seem to bother women; they are comfortable answering either way the question is posed. Just for drill I asked my wife…."have you swept the porch?"

She didn't take the bait and answered…"no, but I will this afternoon."

So much for my grand experiment.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America >

October 26, 2006 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to www.pearyperry.com
Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South |
West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | State Parks | Rivers | Lakes | Drives | Maps | LODGING

Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII |
History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books | MEXICO
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators |
Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Corner Stones | Pitted Dates |
Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs

TEXAS HOTELS | Hotels | Cars | Air | Cruises | USA

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Links
Contributors | Staff | About Us | Contact TE |
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2006. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: October 26, 2006