A Series on Regional Dialect and Marriage
I asked first on Instagram and then on Facebook the name of the action my husband was doing in the photo above. It’s been a stress* on our marriage since forever ago. I, hailing from Western Pennsylvania, call that action “weed whacking.” My husband, having grown up in Southeastern Ohio, calls it “weed eating.”
He’s obviously wrong.
I remember the first time he said he was going to go out and “weed eat,” and I just kind of blinked at him. A lot.
“You’re gonna what now?”
And we have this conversation every. single. time. he goes out to weed whack. Which is what it is. Weed whacking. Why? Here’s why, folks. Prepare for me to blow your mind with this logic, with this amazing use of words as an example.
A Weed Eater is a brand of weed whacker just as a Kubota is a brand of tractor. You no more say, “I’m going to go weed whack the lawn,” than you would say, “I’m gonna go Kubota up the grass!” No. You weed whack and you mow. You don’t brand name things, people. We learned this in Journalism 101 when my professor chastised us for making Life Flight a verb. You don’t “life flight” someone to the hospital; the patient is flown to the hospital by Life Flight.
QUIT VERBING* THINGS THAT AREN’T VERBS.
So when I asked my friends, a lot of whom live in both Western Pennsylvania and Southeastern Ohio, to describe the action pictured, I got the answers I expected. People back in the Pittsburgh area referred to it as weed whacking. People in this area of Ohio called it weed eating. People not in this area of Ohio defaulted back to weed whacking by and large. Outlier answers included trimming, edging, weed whipping, and my personal favorite from Natasha at The Stay at Home Feminist and her Chinese in-laws, “whipper-snipper.” My husband now says he will use that term whenever he is going to go whipper-snipper the lawn.
Out of 76 comments on my Facebook post, two of which were from my dad because he is very passionate about weed whacking, I ended up with a total of 85 answers. Those who said both were thrown out because you gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, and this is obviously very serious business. This is my marriage, yinz guys! I counted when people said, “I say such and such but my spouse says such and such.” That’s important information to me. I’m pleased to see other people living in multi-regional-dialect homes too; it’s hard at times. We need a support group.
And so, the totals. I know you’re waiting with deep excitement.
Other (trimming, edging, bushcutting, whipper-snipper): 12
And with that, my friends, the discussion is solved. From henceforth, the act of taking the weed whacker out to do that action shall be called weed whacking. Thank sweet baby Jesus, because if I hear weed eater one more time, I’m gonna break that sucker in two over my knee. It’s no big deal though, because recently BigBrother forgot that he likes to be contrary just for the sake of being contrary and referred to it as weed whacking. And my soul leapt with great joy. Great, Western Pennsylvanian joy.
Stay tuned for more installments of Pittsburgh Married Ohio: A Series on Regional Dialect and Marriage. While most of these posts will be written with the understanding that my husband is wrong and I am right, I can come up with at least two pieces of regional dialect that will put me squarely in the “wrong” category. Maybe I’ll write about those on days when no one reads the blog. Like Christmas.
stress = Something we fake argue about because fake arguing is the best arguing.
verbing = I can make up words. I’m an editor. But that made my point, didn’t it? Right.
We’re working to settle into a school year routine.
We’ve got soccer practice on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and by evening I mean five o’flippin’ clock, so I’m usually making dinner while on a conference call. As we always end up with Thursday evenings, the boys will miss the first few months of Children’s Choir, cheating us out of our one hour Thursday night dates. Homework gets done right after school. Right now it’s the easy stuff: read for 15 minutes, go over the math facts you already know, do this worksheet that is eleven billion times less complicated and less interesting than the workbooks your mom made you do over the summer. We try to get outside to play, to ride bikes, to take a walk, to go on a run, to breathe the fresh air while it’s still warm and inviting and not bitter and depressing.
We haven’t quite gotten used to everything just yet. We’re forgetting to do some things, clinging still to others we’d rather be doing, but we’re getting there… slowly and together.
With that comes the return to our library trips.
With the end of summer came the frenzy of “let’s go do all the things.” And so I just renewed the books we had online or dropped off any that simply had to be returned that millisecond. We didn’t make time for browsing aisles and looking up new series on the computer and sitting at the tables while mommy walked the aisles, running her pointer finger along the spines.
Tuesday will be our new library night. The library stays open until well after our early dinner hour. Chores can be finished up, books rounded up, and everyone piled into the car with the sun still shining… for now.
I made them stop at the new books shelf in the children’s section before setting them loose on their own. I like to help them find new books or series or interests before they go off in predictable directions: Pokemon, Star Wars, Puppy Patrol/Place, Hardy Boys Secret Files, anything super hero, and so on. I grab a book here and there and toss it in their bags; this month the library featured a shelf on the solar system, complete with worksheets, so I grabbed two books and some papers for their bags. I never tell them that a book is too old or too young for them. I let them sort that out at home.
At one point, they both wanted a pair of books in a series. The third and fourth book. While all of the books we borrow from the library sit in the same place in our house while we have them checked out, there’s always a “claim” over the one each boy checks out. I suggested that they each check out one of the books and switch when they finish reading. It was as if the idea never occurred to them. They both snatched a book from my hand and dropped it into their bag, moseying onward.
I grabbed some non-fiction for myself, before heading over to the Newbery winners and grabbing three, two off of Janssen’s list and one I knew I hadn’t read before. I want to get some reading in first to find some really good read aloud books before the winter sets in, pushes us inside where we curl up on the couch under crocheted afghans and read by the light of my favorite lamp. I don’t know what we’ll read together this winter, but I bet I’ll remember it forever.
Eventually, the boys made their way to the librarian’s checkout counter. BigBrother talked the one librarian’s ear off about Pokemon. Bless her, she carried a quality conversation on the subject; she must love a child that loves some Pokemon, that’s all I can figure. The boys carried their bags to the car, never once complaining how heavy their bags felt as that is the price you pay for being able to select as many books as you so choose. By the time I got myself in the car and buckled, they both planted their noses firmly between the pages of their book picks.
The ride home was silent.