Sunday, October 29, 2017

Looking Back at You

Many of our quirkiest sayings crept into our vocabulary from our parents or grandparents, and few of us know the history of how the terms originated. After telling our kids to stop hemming and hawing, one of them said, “I’m not hawing.” I’m sure the context helped them understand the term, but the exchange prompted me to do a little research. The web indicates the term dates back to the 1700s. “Hemming” refers to clearing one’s throat, preparing to speak. “Hawing” means to hesitate, and together, they translate into stalling to avoid acting or responding. Since the concept is so old, stalling is not new.
Nothing we do lacks historical context. In school, one of our kids is studying the U.S. Constitution and other documents that helped form our nation. It’s surprising to see what we remember about the country’s beginnings. Take a look:
People say that if we don’t know our history, we’re bound to repeat it—and not in a good way. No doubt, you’ve benefited from past. Which part of history makes you the best version of yourself?                




Saturday, October 21, 2017

What About Them?

Not all mammals go to heaven. Obviously, that’s only one opinion since some people believe they’ll see Fluffy or Fido in the afterlife. What about racoons or bears—will they be left out? It’s weird imagining everything on Noah’s ark, flying and running around heaven. But, it’s not too difficult to imagine monkeys lying beside tigers or birds hanging out with cats. They do it now. Somehow, they overcome their basic instincts, doing what “higher species” have a difficult time doing. Take a look:


 The key is exposure. The trio has been together since their early years, and there’s no reason to quit at this point. Unfortunately, people box themselves into categories, then erect walls to segment themselves even more. If a cat and bear can get along, surely, we can do as much. What people do you avoid, and how can you reach out to them now?      

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Where the Power Is

When is the last time anyone talked about “selling wolf tickets?” This is another old school word. I’m not a linguist, but here’s my definition. Selling wolf tickets refers to an assertive speech peppered with claims to back up the talk with potential resources, ability, or intent. For various reasons, the audience often believes the speaker lacks the credibility to support or follow through on their claims. Basically, the audience thinks the speaker is bluffing, trash-talking, or to use another term, talking smack. Listen to this:

Although the hand gestures look convincing, this is an example of what audiences hear when someone is selling wolf tickets. It’s usually a case of talking loud and saying nothing, but that’s not always true. In a friendly debate concerning a topic you’re passionate about, what “wolf tickets” could you sell because you possess the wisdom, power, or experience to support your claims?     

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Timeless Word

By now, you’ve probably heard the word. It’s turning up in all sorts of unexpected places, so imagine my surprise when the newscaster used it twice during the weather report. I’ve heard it before, but my mouth dropped open anyway because no one expects to hear that lingo during a weather forecast. Now, a Merriam-Webster tweet is circulating about potentially putting the word in the dictionary. 

“Jawn,” I’m learning, is a unique-to-Philly word. It’s an all-purpose noun. People still use it, and if you need to learn more about its origins, check Google. This word, like many, should only be used by those who know how.  


That’s a funny concept, but it’ll encourage people to mangle the dialect. Remember how you laughed at your parents when they used teen lingo? Right on? Jawn, right on, shade, cooyan—when you don’t quite know how to use the word, leave it to the experienced. What word do you wish people knew how to use?