Jaqui's Daily Blog

Our Mother Tongue and the Daffy-Down-Dillies

Language. It’s a funny thing.

 

As in, funny peculiar, not funny haha, as my dear Mum would surely have pointed out. See what I mean?

 

Indeed several people gifted with linguistic dexterity have made small (and large) fortunes out of the vagaries of the English language.  I am not one of them and if you were hoping to read this for the illuminating insights it may contain then I have to remind you that this is, after all, the Daily Blog.  The only thing the Daily Blog sheds light upon is my life. From time to time I do endeavour to write a post which is vaguely educational, but this is almost always by accident. 

 

It was Mr B who started me thinking about language this morning.  We had just left the house and he was locking up, prior to getting into the car, starting up the engine, and heading off to our Friday morning choir session. I was gazing around the estate (aka our front garden), saying hello to our resident blackbird and counting the daffy-down-dillies.

 

“Don’t call them that!” Mr B objected, severely.  “They are daffodils...” Well, of course they are, but what’s wrong with elaborating a bit? Daffy-down-dillies has been my own word for this most welcome of spring flowers for everso long.  Mr B says it sounds childish at best and downright stupid at worst.  A little harsh, I felt.  What Mr B calls childish, I call quirky. It’s a question of definition, wouldn’t you agree?

 

I have lots of pet names for inanimate objects.  Everyone in the family knows, for example, that if I talk about a “casserole” I am referring to a carousel. (Strangely it doesn’t apply the other way round; a casserole dish is never, but never, a carousel. Don’t be silly.)

 

Nowadays the Middle of the Darling Daughters puts me in the shade when it comes to loony language.  Since becoming a mother all the most important words in her Baby Vocabulary have to be repeated: milk is “milky milky”; lunch is “lunchy lunchy”; bathtime is “bathy bathy.” She changes the baby’s “bum bum” not his bottom, and doesn’t look forward to “The Poo Poo” which happens once a day.  I presume this is why we refer to our Mother Tongue. It was all very well when she was still on maternity leave and mostly communicating either with family (who are generally forgiving) or with other new mothers (who are similarly afflicted.) Now that she is back at school, she has to remind herself not to announce “lunchy lunchy!” when the dinner bell rings. “I forgot once,” she tells me, “but I think I got away with it...”

 

Repetition, of course, has the advantage of pressing a point home. Listen to Marco Pierre White on Masterchef Australia The Professionals.  Our Marco never says something once when he can say it four times. “Push, push, push, push!” he bellows at the hapless contestants. For a moment there I thought we were watching Call The Midwife.

 

I have to concede that Mr B may well have at least a fraction of a point.  Can you imagine good old Wordsworth waxing lyrical about seeing a “host of golden daffy-down-dillies”?  

 

Though it does have a certain, well, ring-a-ding-ding to it....

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Latest comments

15.10 | 11:13

I don't remember seeing this first time round.... but thank you for sharing with me. You write beautifully, and brought a tear to my eyes. Lots of love xx

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10.10 | 21:37

Jaqui I think your grandchildren are very lucky. You have spurred me on to write a letter to Amelia who like Hazel is away from home for the first time. 💕

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03.07 | 22:43

Wouldn't have missed it for the world. xx

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12.06 | 02:31

I love that you talk to your plants ... I used to on my allotment ... seemed perfectly rational !

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