The English language is a funny, complex thing. We talked about that a lot in my education class this spring, especially in reference to students who are not native English speakers. One classmate came across a list of problem words that give students grief.
“The bandage was wound around the wound.”
“They were too close to the door to close it.”
“To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.”
Funny, but true. What’s funnier is this can happen between native English speakers.
My husband needed some new clothes, so I had him go through his closet to see exactly what he had.
“So you need me to fit these on?” he asked.
“No, try them on,” I said.
“But you fit on fenders. You fit on clothes too,” he argued, with his typical gearhead reference.
“No, you don’t,” I said, reminding him I’m the grammarian in the family.
We’ve done this before. In my family you put the car in the garage. In his family you shed the car.
“Oh, like a snake sheds it skin?” I ask.
Then we go back and forth, teasing each other a little about speaking Nebraska-ese, or being an Iowegan (that’s a person from Iowa). Widen the geographic regions a bit and you run into the pop and soda debate, the Grandma/Memaw usage.
This brings up a concept I found in researching my grammar project, the concept of code switching. People learn to do this when learning a second language, they study the different rules to learn to translate between the languages. People are starting to have to learn with technology too, switch between the codes of Standard English and techspeak (the language of texts and tweets).
Ironically we still need to do this with people from different regions of the country, even just from Nebraska to Iowa.
To keep communicating in all formats, people are going to have to keep switching codes from tech to Standard English, from region to region jargon, from family to family usage. Multi-lingual is a good thing!