Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

February 22, 2010

Winter Games in Vancouver and SLC Oly Redux...

I don't know...as I watch all the thrills and chills of the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and how global warming only seemed to hit there and not in the snowbound East, I still can't dismiss my feelings about how much we idolize the athletes and their feet feats! How much we make celebs out of people who can snowboard and ice skate and fly down ski slopes and sled tracks at breakleg speeds, who brave death and have great muscles and skills - and who are awarded with prestige and international adulation and medals galore.

But they're not gods, people, no matter how much the media wants us to adore them, how much teeth and giggles they show on Oprah and other shows and breakfast cereal boxes. Sports are elevated to such heights, yes Olympian heights. I for one just love the snow and wish I could go play in it. But I hate the interviewers who ask the same questions of the winners, hoping for different answers - or maybe just to get the same answers all the time and hear the word "awesome' a thousand more times! Yes, congrats to all the players and I hope the rewards are worth it for the years of preparation and toil. But as high as they fly, I hope they keep their feet on the ground - and I for one won't be worshiping any of them.

Now, having the Olympics in Canada meant we got to hear things in two languages, English and French. As I reminisce about the Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002, I bring to mind that we almost had them in two languages there too - English and Utahna. Forgive my little jibe at a state I've come to love for 23 years, being born and raised myself in the East. I just have a few problems with the linguistic regionalisms of the locals here, per a little essay I sent out to all the papers at the time but updated here for later publicaton ...

Winter Olympics 2002 Was The Rill Dill (My Utah-Speak Daze) – By Doug Curran

"Now that I’m older and “wiser”, I have more questions than answers. Like why do I love Utah so much when they talk so crazy? I'm a Maryland boy myself with a midwest non-accent. With the 2002 Winter Olympics distant history and the 2004 Summer Games already past, it's nice to know that my concerns with its political success have been basically unfounded. If there really were any terrorist jihadists around, I hope they mistakenly wound up in some ice cave in the high Colorados, trying to bomb the 'Avalanche Venue.' The fear of traffic problems in Salt Lake City turned downtown into a ghost town, we became the porta-potty capital of the world if just for two weeks, and our arsenal of green jello is still intact to share with the a starving world out there. And I think we can safely say that we have impressed the world with how many times we can use the word "venue"(can a porta-potty be a venue too?).

"No, what I was really worried about was an even greater threat to the Games and to world peace than those visiting protesters against rodeos, abortion, the Mormons, global warming, the Mormons, valley pollution, and the Mormons. I was more concerned with the potential for significant international misunderstanding every time a local folk might open his mouth in well-intentioned gushes of good will, not knowing he might be some poor visitor's only English manual. Did it happen? And I’m not talking about the Utah-speak of years ago, still pleasantly alive in some of our older generation's more memorable lines like 'Let’s go horness the harses down on the form in American Fark befar we read the Book of Marmon at the wahrd house.' And what about all those more youthful generational 'Dangs' and 'Oh my hecks' and 'My words' and 'Fer neats'!

"No, no, this is something far more recent and insidious and makes the Great Vowel Shift(or is that Movement?) pale in significance to another linguistic anomaly. What I’m talking about friends is what nobody has yet protested and I want to do it before the world gives us the powder. I call it the 'Demise of the Diphthong!' What’s a diphthong, you ask? Well it doesn’t take a diphstick to know what a diphthong is. It’s one of those things in language that…well, it’s when you’re talking and you…ok, it’s like this, see.

"Let’s take the word “real", for example. There are two vowels together in that mono-syllabic…uh, single syllable wonder - 'e' and 'a. In more midwest English, they are each given a separate sound value akin to something like 'ree-uhl'. That is how most people say it - except in Utah. In Utah, it is pronounced 'rill'. No kidding! Rilly!! Have you listened to your local radio commercials lately? Or to your neighbors kids? Or to yourself? Ever?? Hey, this is serious stuff!

"And what about the two vowels together in the word 'mail', 'a' and 'i', or its homonym 'male'? The word in every English class I’ve ever been in (MA English , ESL certified, but seriously considering changing careers to becoming a curling sweeper) sounds like 'may-uhl'. There are supposed to be two sounds there - two together. It's a diphthong, people! We can actually pronounce those two sounds separately!

"But what I'm hearing is something like 'I’m going to the Post Office to pick up the mell.' No, that’s exactly what I’m hearing. Mell! Mell? Like ‘through rain, snow, sleet and hell(not hail) the mell will get through?' And I used to deliver the stuff as a sub postal carrier in the East to earn money for an LDS mission in Brazil.) And it seems to be only those specific diphthongs used with 'L'-sounding endings. So what the 'L' is that all about? Help me out, here! And I know some wiser-than-thou linguist out there will! Are we just getting too lazy to use those poor little vowels?

"But what if someone visiting from another country had gotten sick on fry sauce, let's say. It could happen! Would the attending medical person have said something like 'How do you fill(feel)? You look pretty pell(pale). What was in your last mill(meal)? If I can’t hill(heal) you, maybe I can get you a good dill(deal) on a coffin.' Or what about the tourist who was shopping Utah for some souvenirs? Did some retell (retail) store say something like 'Hi folks, come on in, we’re having a sell (sale) on fishing rills(reels) and shingle nells(nails).' Nice target marketing. Doesn't anyone else see some serious international implications here? Is it just me?

"And finally, how did we do helping all those brave Olympians who had a rill ordill on the ice and slopes, hoping they'd prevell over their competition, not well in anguish if they lost, or who had to go to jell for felling the dope test? Did we just smile and say 'Happy trells, pardner! The devil's in the detells!' And I’m not trying to be pompous or coy here - much. I've just gotten so used to those little 'ea's and the 'ai's, that I don't want to see them disappear. And they ARE disappearing! And I didn’t want our guests to leave Utah filling confused and felling to see us as we rilly are, out standing in our filled. Ooops.

"Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love Utah! It’s been home for 18 years as a transplant from the East Coast via Hawaii. So I'm really not affected by local regionalisms so much. But I do love selling on Deer Creek and riding the rells on the Heber Creeper. I just hope that when President Bush was in town, nobody sang 'Hell to the Chief!' But hey, those Winter Games were the rill dill, weren’t they? How did you fill about them, rilly? Nobody went to jell. Will never know if the terrorists were here because if they felled in their plans, or didn’t still any money, then they didn’t sill the dill. Yes, happy trells, partner, as I sell into the sunset...oh boy, gimme that midwest linguistic makeover already."

1 comment:

  1. Just think of it, I was there for the entire pizza journey. There will never, however, be a pizza memory without the one in Hawaii where Doug gave our long-awaited-for homemade pizza to a neighbor, forgetting that I had already given them a homemade chicken dinner the night before. Write that one up, Doug.
    Love my husband so much. Colleen