Monday, July 14, 2014

Words Charming and Alarming

The other day I happened to overhear my husband give an order to Agnes, our cat. It’s Vietnamese and sounds like ‘deety mouw’ . It  means hurry  up and I chuckle every time he says it. He and Agnes have a strained relationship and when she’s wanting to go out and he’s impatiently holding the door – well – sometimes salty language is called for. He was in Vietnam back in the late 60’s and brought home stray remnants of that culture. Fitting for our stray cat, I guess.

I’ve always been fascinated with the Amish and I have a few of their cookbooks and one on quilting, too. In the back of one of the cookbooks there are some phrases of interest, but the one that’s stuck with me over the years is, “Stay outen the light.” That’s what is said to the last cook leaving when you want the light in the room put out. Pretty cute, huh?

My Swedish cousin, Ulla, gave a little talk at last year’s family reunion. She was trying to teach a room full of vacationing Americans a few words in Swedish. Poor Ulla but she hung in there.  My favorite word, carved into my brain now forever, is “Bra!” It has nothing to do with keeping the “girls” in place or the virtues of padded versus underwire. Nope. In Sweden when something is “Bra!” it’s good, like maybe beer or cheese or, sure, that great underwire you found on sale last Tuesday. Simple as that.

You ladies will appreciate my distaste for this next word. Grande. In Spanish it means large. Not a bad word for the most part, but when they use it on the tags in the cute t-shirt you  have in your hand for 70% off at Kohl’s it feels rude. To me “grande” seems so much bigger that plain old Large. Then again it could be tagged Muy Grande – very large and when I need that it’s time to hit the veggie burgers and tofu for a while. “No Haagen Daz for you!”

One of my favorite foreign phrases also comes from the Spanish lexicon. Vaya con Dios. I listened to the song of that name on Mom’s radio when I was a little girl.  It was made popular by Les Paul and Mary Ford whom I’d never heard of until my husband talked about them. Really. You don’t remember who sings your favorite tunes when you’re little – and I was very little – but you remember how it made you feel. Les and Mary were able to wrap that song around you like a warm blanket on a chilly day.

Vaya con Dios means “go with God” and that’s what I hope for you this week.

Have a Bra! Monday.

Image: Free Digital Photos


  1. I like that. "Vaya con dios." I will, and thanks!

    1. Denada - you're welcome in Spanish. =0)