Monday, February 22, 2010

Pig Latin Ponderings

Ix-Nay on the Upid-Stay”. That’s what I heard coming from the backseat as we drove to town the other night. No, I didn’t have a foreign exchange student back there. Nor have I enrolled my kids in a Rosetta Stone class. They were quoting lines of dialogue from the movie The Lion King. Do you remember it now? Yep, pig Latin.

I still remember when I learned to speak pig Latin. Riding the bus home from elementary school, the spring sun shining in the windows and warming the vinyl seats so they emitted that funky, chemical smell. I turned sideways in my seat and faced my “tutor”, a sixth grader who seemed so ultra-cool at the time. He raised his voice to be heard over the rumble composed of the bus tires against the road and kids high on the effects of a sunny, spring afternoon. I caught on quickly and by the time my mom doled out after-school cookies, I was a fluent conversationalist in pig Latin.

So, imagine the treat for me when, last week, I translated the phrase for them (“Nix on the Stupid”), then taught my three characters to speak pig Latin. They practiced the rest of the way to town, all through Walmart, and back home again, laughing and entertaining each other and the fellow shoppers who caught on to what they were doing. I remember them learning to speak as toddlers too, but this was fun in a new way—they all learned at the same time.

That got me thinking about language and more specifically the language of our family. I learned that our family has its own language and I have a huge role in what it will be. Do you know that every family has its own “language”? I know, if you are reading this, you speak English, but I’m talking about the language of your home. Some homes speak the language of love. Others the language of laughter. Some speak sarcasm in a witty, clever way, while others also speak sarcasm but in a cutting and cruel style.

So ask yourself the questions: What language am I teaching my kids? What language do I use with my spouse? my co-workers? my parents? myself? Do you spew negativity or speak words of encouragement? Do you pour forth words of gratitude, patience, and peace like in the book of Job where it says, “They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.” Or rather do you drown others with your words of complaint, guilt, or pride like it says later in Job, “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?”

Ask yourself a few questions today. What is the language of my family? Is that the legacy I want to leave? If so, how can I continue reflecting that in my speech? If not, what can I do today to change it? Then go and teach someone pig Latin.

See you on Wednesday when we will do something a little different. But you won't want to miss what you can learn in a raspberry patch.

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