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SpanFrenPunjablish 2… the UNCUT version…

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(thank you for bearing with my “Premature Publishing” problem of 2 days ago and returning for the rest of the story…)

panda shoots.jpg

I get confused sometimes. OK, often.

Language is a crazy thing, ain’t it?

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

“Why?” asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“Well, I’m a panda,” he says. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation.  

– Panda… Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.  Eats, shoots and leaves –          

eats-shoots-and-leaves

In 2003, Lynne Truss wrote a non-fiction bestseller titled… you guessed it… Eats, Shoots & Leaves. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at how communication can be thrown in the air like pizza dough, becoming a total gooey mess when simple punctuation marks are either omitted or improperly used in writing and reading.

……………………………..

I love languages like I love music.

Languages are music, they have a rhythm, an accent, a pace that distinguishes each in a similar way to how we distinguish folk music from country music from classical music.

When we hear a non-native person speak in English, most of us recognize their accent as Spanish, or Indian, or Russian. The notes and rhythm are different but unique.

It’s music, plain and simple.

I’m tutoring a handsome, oh-so-polite, young Indian man, we’ll call him Ramesh (no, it’s not his real name) who wants to pass his IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test to stay here in Canada (psst… don’t tell the Trump’ster, he might build another wall).

Unbeknownst to him, he’s teaching me as much as I’m hoping to teach him.

Learning can happen anywhere. I like that.

But Ramesh thinks I’m an English-language God… a golden deity of language.

I don’t want that responsibility on my shoulders.

I’m already sweating bullets, worrying that he may not pass his exams – at a cost of $350 – in January. Ramesh has a business administration certification but currently works at a gas station for $10.50 an hour.

I’ll probably have terrible stressed-out diarrhea the day of his test.

He respectfully calls me “Sir” but in a funny twist of formal vs informal language, he injects the filler word like 2 or 3 times in every sentence, so much like my own teenage kids did 10 years ago.

In a 3 minute speech he recited to me a week ago, I, like, stopped counting at 35 likes. It’s like those potty-mouthed F-Bomb guys at my, like gym, that I spoke about, like last year. They, like, can’t help themselves. (ASIDE: this week, Ramesh only used like 4 times in 3 minutes! That’s, like, commitment and progress…)

I’m pretty good with most grammar issues and … spelling? Well.. spelling is my Herculean strength. I possess rippling Arnold Schwarzenegger spelling muscles.

arnold-schwart

Olympians are often gifted with superior athletic abilities and skills. My Olympic genetic gift is a knack for spelling correctly without having to think or try. It’s a minor endowment, but I always appreciate it like a shiny toy from Santa under the tree.

I used to think I was a fair grammarian as well, but a simple query by Ramesh this week brought me tumbling humbly back to earth.

His question?  “when should I use ‘has been‘ vs ‘have been.

The rules of syntax I thought I owned rose like a helium balloon to the sky as I fumbled for a coherent answer. You probably haven’t hesitated a milli-second in wonder over this one, have you?

According to Quora:

Both “Has been” AND “Have been” mean something began in the past and has lasted into the present time.

  • This meaning is known as present perfect continuous.
  • Use “has” when describing specific persons (not yourself) or a non-person (e.g. an animal or an object).
  • Use “have” when describing yourself or a group (both human and non-human).

I know, blah… that’s boring. I’m with you.

My point here is that I take for granted the knowledge that lies within. Some things just … are.

I discovered a whole lot about the rules of language almost 7 years ago in Cusco, Peru while we were studying Spanish alongside shiny, intelligent, young, Dutch, German, Brazilian and American students.

We were learning Spanish, yes. But we were also uncovering the reasons for language usage that apply in English and other languages at the same time. It was like unearthing buried treasure on a beach while innocently making sand castles.

So here I am today, learning once again.

Ramesh is asking the tough questions that make me sit back and think, “Hell yeah, why is it that when two or more adjectives are used before a noun, they must be used in a specific order.”  

This is something we native English speakers do without thinking because we simply knows what “sounds right.”  

“The large purple cotton bag belongs to her,” is fine.
“The cotton purple large bag belongs to her,” is not.

Right?

Who wouldn’t be confused? Who can explain why this is? It just is.

But I can’t tell Ramesh I don’t know.

Actually, I do do just that (what a silly language where we place two do‘s together and it makes sense!). And then I come home and study the reasons why.

I’m having to put in my 1,000 hours of study and dedicated practice so I can understand and help Ramesh join Canadian society.

He’s a charming and amiable young man.

I want him to enjoy a life in Canada and experience ice skating and fluffy snowflakes made into snowmen.

I want him to idle in a Tim Hortons Drive-Thru and order a double-double.

I want him to learn to say “eh” and cheer for my Hamilton Tiger Cats football team.

Ramesh is helping me get past my own confusion, which is a good thing, because I don’t want him to, like, Eat, Shoot, and Leave this country.

a-woman-without-her-man

SEX? YES Please! … or is that GENDER?

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Yes Please

Sex is bloody wonderful, isn’t it?

Maybe even better than cheesecake and chocolate … I’ll let you decide.

You know, if I truly believed that God exists, I’d suggest to you that this gender-neutral spirit wrapped us up a big box of fun and called it sex.

Sort of like… “OK, it’s Day 7, this is how we rest.

“What… and you tell me it’s used for procreation too?!”  Now that’s a twofer …

Sex is a nice silk-swaddled divine present given to us when we enter puberty and beyond. It’s like a carnal Bar Mitzvah.

It’s right around the time we grow tired of playing in sandboxes but still want to get messy and dirty and fall into a deep slumber at night without imbibing alcohol or zopiclone or warm milk.

Sex is so wonderful that a well-known kids’ entertainer even sang a song all about it:

Having sex is beautiful,
Having sex is fine.
I like sex so much I do it all the time;
Sex before my supper and sex before my lunch;
If I had a hundred sexy orgasms, I’d have them all at once.

I’m a roaming and a rambling
And a wandering all along,
And if you care to listen,
I will sing a happy song.
I will not ask a favor
And I will not ask a fee,
But if you have a sexy moment

Won’t you share it all with me?

See?

OK… he was actually singing about sandwiches but I know for a fact that sandwiches are just a euphemism for sex. Children’s stories and songs have long been filled with symbolism. But children’s performers that sing forthrightly about sex end up on Sexual Predator lists… hence? Sandwiches.

But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about today.

I have a problem. Well, more an issue than a problem. Maybe a pet peeve.

I need help.

I’m challenged by the words “sex” and “gender”.

According to the World Health Organization,Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.”

sex gender

These English words sex and gender have specific meanings but I still have difficulty when I hear someone querying, “Their name is Chris? What sex are they?”

OK. I kinda get it. But the word sex has a definite meaning to me.

And that is why I get so confused (and a bit giggly) when I fill out forms and questionnaires and reach the part that says, SEX.

Do I write down M or F? Nope.

I always want to fill the empty blank next door with, “Yes Please“.

Or …”Heterosexual preferred“.

 

In my head, sex is a verb or noun that sweetly describes what 2 (or more!) people do with each other when they rip the other’s clothes off.

Sex is a primal animalistic urge, a delicious mingling of the naughty bits that bursts a fire-hosing gush of oxytocin and prolactin and endorphins that gives you that wondrous runner’s high, or in this case, f****er’s high.

The world is filled with ambiguity and so I suppose I should just accept that the word “sex” can have different meanings depending on its usage.

Lots of other words have multiple meanings so it doesn’t make a slab of sense that I stumble when it comes to sex.

In reality it probably comes down to my sex … er … gender. Dammit… I’m still confused.

I’m a man.

Pretty much every study out there tells us that we men think about sex … oh … 500 times per hour.

I’ve worked hard for years and have brought it down to 300 now thank you very much. (To get real for a minute, an actual scientific-based study carried out at Ohio State University uncovered a more moderate Male sex-thought frequency of 19 times daily compared to about 10 times each day for Females).

So when I encounter the word sex, my testosterone-based malemind immediately dives into the sexual cesspool. I can’t help it. It’s a biological response. It just happens. No VIAGRA required.

So world at large … I’m asking for your help. I’m begging you please.

Going forward, can you save me the hormonal confusion and blood surges to my nether regions when you use the words sex and gender. 

  • Please use the term GENDER on any form or questionnaire or statement that is asking if I have a penis or a vagina. This saves me a childish snicker and also an internal hormonal groin sproing. It’s easy for me to write down M when you ask the proper question.
  • But if you’re gonna ask SEX on the form, well … I just know I’m gonna need to distract myself with thoughts of playful golden lab puppies or a cold shower to make it through to the end.

Your kind assistance will go a long way from keeping me on topic and off any Sexual Predator lists.

Because really?

All I want to do is eat a “sandwich” and get back to my Key Lime Cheesecake and Chocolate.

key lime