I like words.
When Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame died, they called him a “curmudgeon”, a bad-tempered or surly person. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to use curmudgeon in a conversation. I haven’t found a good way to casually slip it in. But I will someday.
I like when words roll right off your tongue. Words like “onomatopoeia” and “lackadaisical” are slippery fish to handle. I feel so smart when I can toss one of these babies into a sentence like it was nothing.
I like words, but I suck at spelling. I am of the first generation to use computers. I was raised with Spell Check for words and calculators for math, so I’m a moron in both subjects. Now that I’m an English teacher I realize that it’s not entirely my fault. I blame the “schwa”. If you don’t know what a schwa is then you likely were never taught phonetics in Elementary reading class. Because of schwa, no one can tell the difference between any of the vowels in an unstressed syllable. If you can’t hear the difference, how can you spell it? So I’m sure that “Hooked on Phonics” is a scam.
There are some words that I misspell regularly. Words like tongue, tomorrow, vacuum, dilemma, definitely, furniture, curriculum, congratulations, and jealous are forever underlined red when I click my trusty Spell Check. When I was a Freshman in college I worked in a bakery. Every time I needed to write “Congratulations” in frosting on a cake I would write in on a piece of scrap paper first so I wouldn’t mess up someone’s sheet cake. I understand Winnie the Pooh when he says that his spelling is a little “wobbly”. Mine is too.
It’s true, I like words, but I’m seriously thankful that I’m not learning English as a second language. I think I might give up. Whenever I go through a fast food drive-thru and hear a foreign accent over the speaker I think two things: First of all, who was the cruel manager that scheduled that poor person to work the hardest job in the world for a non-native speaker; and second of all, I want to applaud that dear soul for making such a herculean effort to understand English spoken through a crappy intercom system. I doubt I could do that in Spanish without sprinkling my speech with expletives every now and then. That would most definitely turn me into a curmudgeon.