Thursday, January 3, 2013

Shocked in Translation

My Dar and Granny with my Mum, their daughter-in-law, in the middle
(With thanks to my brother Jeremy for uploading our old family pics on Flickr!)

Warning:  This post contains a naughty word expression for those living in Australia and presumably New Zealand.  Bear with me as there is a wholesome point to it all!

I had a delightful Granny.  She passed away a few years back at the ripe age of 97.  I loved her dearly but boy could she crack me up!  It was the generational-gap-lost-in-translation thing.  You know what I am talking about, words that have changed their meaning or gained another meaning like gay, sick, bad etc

As kids we used to laugh at Granny calling our youngest brother a little faggot.  Obviously she meant a bundle of sticks because he was always wriggly and hard to hold.

But the one that got us all in fits of muffled giggles, probably because we had naughty little minds, was her story of how she coped with our grandfather's snoring.  Like many elderly couples, they slept in separate beds although they shared a bedroom.  It was more comfortable for their aged bodies I guess.  But Granny used to complain that her sleep was being disrupted by Dar's chronic snoring.

With a cheeky grin she would say "everytime he snores, I just get up and give him a root*!"

After our shock, and a little disgust at the thought of it, we would then realise her meaning and laugh at hearing her say something so 'naughty' without knowing.  What she meant was she would grab her walking stick that was next to her bed, lean over and poke Dar in the ribs to get him to roll over and stop snoring.  We knew that, but our little corrupted minds would laugh at the other thought, of our grandparents doing-it (eeeewww!).

I grew up in a household that tolerated swearing.  Each of us, my siblings and parents alike, have hot tempers.  The rude words would fly around frequently.  It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I don't swear.  It is a do-not, a deliberate decision to not swear and raise my children with the same amount of dislike for swear words.  But every now and then, the 'old woman' in me, the former person before I made a decision to love Jesus, would rear her ugly tongue and let the f-bomb or s-bomb out.  I have to be mighty angry, but with my temper, well, I am a work in progress.

But only the other day, my boys, 3 and 4 years, began saying the f-bomb. After questioning, they told me a boy at kindy says it.  It broke my heart (and relieved they didn't hear it from me!).  It is crushing to hear such young boys say such an ugly word.  I know that they don't know its meaning, and is said innocently but it reminded me that there is a big world out there that will continue to shock me in translation.

Many of my friends swear and I don't take offense.  They don't swear at me, it has just become so intertwined into our language that for most, there is no longer a 'naughty word' attachment to it.  In one of my former workplaces, I had a colleague who would apologise to me after each time she used the f-bomb in conversation with me.  In the end I simply told her I take more offense to her using Jesus Christ as a swear word.  Different standards.  She couldn't see the offense. That's ok, I was just trying to let her know what I found offensive, if she really wanted to not offend me.

So my wholesome point?  Not to judge any person for the language they use.

Romans 14:13
Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother (or sister or neighbour or stranger)**.

My new reflective, is to say nice things, to be nice, to think nice, and show love through kindness and gentleness.


*for those in the northern hemisphere, the word root has a double meaning down under. . .  are you getting my drift?
**my own emphasis

By the way, I am totally digging my Mum's Suzi Q hair-do and that dress!  Think I might get myself a hair cut!!


  1. Funny story ...I don't like to watch movies that have tonnes of language but I can tune out when I hear it from others....I too cringed when my son tries out a word he hears in the playground...but use it as a good learning tool. xx

  2. When I moved to Australia 7 years ago I misused this word too...My understanding was that root meant to rummage through something. When we had visitors and someone wanted a bottle opener I said "I think Byron is in the kitchen. Why don't you go find him and see if you can have a root for it" from the shocked look on everyone's faces I knew I'd said something wrong. Never again!

  3. Haha! That was such a cool post, Fiona. Your Granny was a hoot! It reminds me of The Faraway Tree series. When we were little I didn't blink an eye to Fanny and Dick (even though I normally would have giggled at the same things you did with your Granny). I must've been so engrosed in those favourite Enid Blyton stories that I missed the whole Fanny and Dick thing being 'inappropriate'. I really hate how they've changed those names to Fran and Rich. bring back the old days when words could be used without anyone taking offence.

    Also, i wanted to say how relevant your post was to a conversation/slight argument I had with a friend the other day about swearing. My point was the Romans 14 scripture you quoted. It's so important to remember, I think.
    Happy New Year to you, Fiona. x

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Hey thanks for popping by! I read all your comments and really try and get to your blog too. Despite my good intentions, I don't always reply to each message but I am very grateful for the time you take in sharing your thoughts with me. Word verification is back up because I am getting spammed big time. So thanks for taking that extra step in commenting. Blessings, Fi xxxxx

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