Sunday, June 21, 2009


I may have mentioned to Beth during her visit, that I had been mulling over the idea of doing an entry about 'jargon and patois'. I tend to use jargon from a wide variety of environments, and mashed them together to create my own patois.

'Jargon' is like the geek speak for a certain genre or philosophy. There is so much technical and discipline specific language, that often as a casual observer, I have to wonder if those using the 'dialect' really understood what was being said themselves!!

Scott Adams and Ken's 'Sunday Silliness' make light of the 'buzzword culture' out on the cube prairies of offices or wherever it seems that paperwork backlogs. Because jargon actually is a description of something functional or an operation, it is in my mind to be taken more seriously than a 'buzzword'. 'Buzzwords' are more closer related to slang in my mind. The serve a similar function, as they are terms used to create an environment that has less to do with the real value or use of something and more to do with egoism and making someone feel something.

'Patois' is a functional slang, created to be a subversive, secret language spoken in front of everyone. Only a select group has full understanding of the speech, and it is an open secret. Not everyone can fully understand or appreciate the lingo, and it is rare for someone on the outside to understand and comprehend it. Rare indeed.

For me, words have always been interesting. There are certain terms that because of my early interest in the etymology of words, that I read differently or hear differently. Knowing a words past can be as useful as knowing a persons past, which is why how someone talks on line can be as revealing as a face to face encounter.

My patois is a snappy blend that reflect a variety of experiences in my life. I used to think that I spoke the way that I did, so that I could talk about someone while I was talking around them, only I would stand in their face! Often, they'd stand there like Moe would to Calvin, confused before deciding to pound him!!

Phrases, lyrics, they all carry a piece of something or someone with them. When you take them in the scene you first encountered them, and place that scene in new surroundings, you create something of your very own. That is part of why I get agitated by common slang and its (mis)use. Try to be a little original, do a little 'goat thinkin' (which is a line from Adam Sandler from his first or second comedy tape) and come up with something that you have created yourself, and can really identify with. Otherwise, you are simply being a sheep, led to where sheep get led to.

Jargon can become patois, but patois is never jargon. A jargon is meant to be understood by a larger group whereas patois is something that is only understood by those who are immeresed in a specific environment. I can imagine that Ken and Beth have witnessed scenes like today's video, if not participated in a discussion like that themselves.

I am wondering if it is like a 'chocolate in my peanut butter' kind of conundrum, where the texture of my life has me 'speak' the way that I do. My internal dialogue is clear as a bell ... I never sound confused in my head! When I look at what my fingers produce, I sometimes wonder what IS on my mind!

'Speaking straight away', is pretty simple to understand. And if I can't get my feelings across in any other manner, I can do that. For instance, telling Ken how to get back to the hotel from the Science Center was a bigger adventure than I let on. Every now and again, places look 'different, but familiar', like I am transposing a scene from another place unto what I am looking at.

That is what a lot of the Military jargon does for me ... reinforces my confidence. You begin things with the end in mind, and that is always with success as the objective.

Getting to the restaurant, and from the restaurant to the hotel was an example of that internal thinking. Because of it, I think that I am nothing if not cool under pressure, and I knew that if we weren't going to get lost, I had to remain calm ... and I think I did a good job of that! I didn't want to be wandering Detroit lost any more than they did!! In a situation like that, being clear and sharp is the most important thing. Ken is a pretty good driver, so I only needed to talk like I knew where I was going and he'd get us there!

"We knew the environment", which I got from Bob Davie as he led an overmatched Notre Dame into a football game, is a line that signifies that a person has a complete and deep understanding of what they are engaged in and the consequence involved. The side of the major artery I live on is 'chippy' to say the least (that is a term I associate with hockey ). To someone from out of town, it is risky ... and in a super sharp Mustang, it could be the longest three minutes spent anywhere outside of fighting a prime Mike Tyson (and there is more to him in this entry!!)

When Ken offered to drop me home, I told him that would be all right (or is that alright??), not necessarily because it is simply a risk, but it was an totally unnecessary one. Why take it? The best way not to become a cautionary tale is to use caution! Doesn't mean that risk is absent in my life, but I like to think that I 'know the environment' before I get started!!

The urban slang that heats me up, does so because it is missing the point. Rather than 'reinvent' a thought, it confirms one's ignorance or lack of imagination to me. Where does it come from and really, what does it mean? Context can tell you what it is supposed to mean, but what is the picture you are trying to create, the idea you are conveying with being 'jiggy wit it?' And yes, brother and sister, if you aren't either Michael Eric Dyson or Connie Rice, I do think you stop trying to be 'down' when you reach 30.

Someone who is seriously trying to hold a discussion with me 'speaking jive' is hard to take seriously. The irony of that is that they can't grasp my patois because they won't expand their imagination to accept the ideas I am expressing and I won't let mine shrink to accept and acknowledge their lack of that ability.

With a common background in science, there is a level of communication between Ben & Keth that allows them a closeness that is enviable. There is a shared experience separate from each other that allows them to understand in a more profound way than someone who doesn't have that experience, even in though they are different in their field, science is still science ...

... just like the Army is still the Army.


Before I entered the service, I beat a cat who beat Mike Tyson. And the clear victory that he had over Mike, I had over him. So with one degree of separation, I fully expected to be able to fight and beat Mike Tyson ... yes, THAT Mike Tyson. You can imagine what it sounded like to people in the service when some cat was saying that he felt he could beat up 'the baddest man on the planet'.

There was plenty of snickering ... you wouldn't DARE laugh out loud at me, but no belief ... well, almost no one did belief.

My SFC had my back.

We already have a 'couple language', where we instantly 'get' what the other is saying. That was something that I caught from our intrepid Hoosiers, that there is a communication that they have between each other that allows them to say whatever right in front of you, and you have no idea of what they expressing to one another. I mean, you can find the definition of the words in the dictionary, but that wouldn't tell you what they MEAN to them.

And again, that back ground ... different branches of science but still, the methodology is generally the same. That only deepens their understanding of one another.

Me and my girl are like that NOW. We can talk in a way that is intimate and feels exclusive to us alone. Usually having major common interests lead to other shared interests that are important to one another. Right now, I am thinking about how different she would have viewed my professional career ...

But I don't think long nor hard about it. She is here in my life at the right time, and if I can sell her on being 'Louise', we will kill at Halloween parties!!


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Love the entry "Thelma" :o)

As you would say, "nough said"

Wes said...


I enjoyed your entries, you make good points. As always you cause me to think in positive ways.

I'm going off a few of your entries I read tonight. As you can tell by my entries, I have my own language. Sometimes people confuse my words, I'm more of a face to face person.

I can do impressions of many people! Famous and people I know. You can't do those typing. My humor can be taken as sad sometimes. I just try to convey humor out of reality. The best I can sometimes.

I admit I use what I call Old School talk. Words or phrases that people don't use. I simply like certain generational speak.

Growing up I loved 1930's and 1940's phrases. My friends looked at me as if I was a Fuddy dud. I didn't care!

We did have our own language around people, especially one's with authority.

My wife and I have to use an opposite language around MJ. Kids listen closer than we think, I don't want to give a complex. She has been some what difficult at times, but we manage.

I pick up on code talk better than I use it. I have always been too truthful with people.

I used to try to sound smarter than I was. I would attempt big words as a teen, words I was clueless on it's proper use. I still do sometimes, I talk kid talk daily.

I struggle each day with kid show vocabulary insanely dancing in my brain.

That is one reason I stop by your place, to read a grown ups words. I try to connect with wonderful people, most of the time. Sometimes they drop me a line.

I thought about an entry of yours some time back. It was in the lines of a person asking why they don't see you more? That is a good point. I felt that at the recent wedding, but not so positive.

My entry is getting as long as my blog entries, so I will go.

I'm glad you have found a good person to share time with in life. :)

I'm glad you had a good time with Ken and Beth.

You also have a good life a well!

Maybe one day I will finally make it to Detroit? I've wanted to go since I was a kid. Most people have looked at me in wonder over that statement. Too many reasons to name here.

I wish you a great week my friend.


a corgi said...

I got this, Mark; thanks for helping me to understand some of the ways you might write/think/etc. I knew jargon but not patois, although I think hubby and me have patois but I never thought of it that we did (does that make sense) but we do know what the other is thinking, have little words said or actions done that would not be interpreted by others around us but only by us. so thanks for taking the time to explain this all; I'm glad you and SFC have that language :)


Beth said...

"Intrepid Hoosiers." I love that!

If you were worried about getting us around, I sure didn't see it. You did just fine! I see what you mean about "getting" each other, and I'm sure our science background has something to do with that. There's also a certain language that I think couples can call it couplespeak if you like. That also happens with people who have known each other for a long time (Cousin Shane and I have what we call the Cosmic Cousin Connection), and since you and SFC have known each other for so long, I suspect you either already have that or will develop it quickly. :)

Mr.Mischief said...

You are a very cool and intelligent guy, and I'm glad Miss Alaineus got me onto are a most intelligent and intriguing person, and hope to garner advice from you from time to time when it comes to !certain things that I quite honestly have no real experience in..good night, and hope things keep giong in a good direction for you