Regional dialect in the U.S. – Pardon me for my nerdiness

two women talking

“I’m sorry I laughed at you for calling the ginger ale, ‘Coke.'” “That’s alright, Mabel. I’ll forgive you if you pardon me for laughing when you called the spigot a ‘spicket.'”

Like most people who read and write SF and fantasy, I have a tendency towards nerdiness. I watched Star Trek loyally (until I ditched my TV at age 24). I read graphic novels. I watched foreign films as a teen and young adult and snubbed “Forrest Gump” and “Titanic.” And my idea of a fun day out could easily involve a museum, planetarium, or library.

Yes, I sat at the table with the nerds, geeks, and dweebs in high school. At least the social consequences of nerdiness drop drastically at some point during college.

One of the things I studied in college and graduate school happens to be sociolinguistics, and the topic still fills me with geeky glee, so when Discover Magazine directed readers to Joshua Katz’s work at NC State University, I had to give it a look-see. Continue reading

blogging again

Our family welcomed our newest member a month ago, another precious baby girl, so I haven’t had a chance to post for a while.

Here’s just a goofy little story that I invented to make nail-cutting more calm and enjoyable for my boys. It’s particularly appropriate now that summer is here.

Cat Claw

There once was a little boy named Salvador, but all the children in the neighborhood just called him “Cat Claw”. He hated having his nails cut so much that his nails just grew and grew, until he could hardly write with a pencil. His toenails eventually tore through his shoes. Luckily, this was summertime, and Salvador didn’t find it necessary to hold a pencil or wear shoes. His mother tried to tell him that he looked more like an animal than a boy, and neighbors teased and taunted him, but he simply ignored them and continued to avoid his mother’s attempts to trim his nails.

One day in July, the weather grew particularly hot. The sun beat down on Salvador as he scratched in the dirt outside his house, even though it was still morning.

“Mom!” yelled Salvador. “Do we have any lemonade?”

“Yes, would you like some?” his mother said.

“Please…and remember the straw,” he answered. He had to drink with a staw because his nails were too long to hold the glass.

After drinking the lemonade, Salvador went back out to play. He enjoyed himself for a while, but as the sun rose higher and higher in the sky, he could no longer tolerate the heat.

When he’d finished his lunch, he said, “Mom! Let’s go get some ice cream!”

“Sure,” she said. She grabbed her pocketbook and they walked to the ice cream parlor. The only way Salvador could stand the heat was by thinking about the ice cream he’d shortly enjoy. He spent the whole way to the shop discussing with Mom what flavor he’d pick.

“Maybe fudge ripple or triple chocolate,” he said, “though brownie fudge is good, too.”

“How about butter brickle?” his mother suggested.

“Nahh…not chocolatey enough.”

They finally made it to the store. As his mother reached for the door. She pointed to a sign:


“It looks like you can’t come in, Salvador,” said his mother. “Just look at your feet.”

As usual, her son was shoeless, with long, claw-like nails curling from his toes.

Salvador wiped the sweat from his forehead and exclaimed, “But Mom, it’s hot and I want ice cream!”

“Too bad,” said his mother. She began to turn back towards home.

“What if I let you cut my nails and start to wear shoes again?”

“Let’s do it when we get home!”

Salvador ran all the way home. As soon as his mother unlocked the door, he darted into the bathroom. With only a moment’s hesitation, he cut all his nails, all 20 of them. Washing his hands, he found his old shoes, the ones his nails had NOT torn through. He shoved them on his feet and grabbed his mother’s hand.

“Let’s go!” he said to her. “I want some triple fudge, and I want it now.”