Words, Their Special Meanings, And Experiences

Words… amazing words… Some words recently stick in my mind and do not leave me alone as if reminding me of their special and unique meaning. These words are all around us and we use them without fully considering the reasons for their usage. One such word I heard today while talking to a classmate was “ծույլիկ” which literally translated from Armenian means “lazy.” In school we always had kids who did not do well in class. Sometimes these kids would also get into fights or create trouble but often they could not keep up with others who got good grades. I think the equivalent is “troublemaker” in the American culture. Perhaps there’s another word that I don’t know but the Armenian word resonated so strongly this morning that I had to write about it. Why is it that in a language with over two hundred thousand words, the word to describe the laggard kids is lazy, especially when they were not lazy when doing anything but school work? My son had his first few days of school this week which is probably why this word suddenly left such an impression. Our challenge will be to ensure that he’s not lazy when it comes to school work.

Another expression that I thought of yesterday, also in Armenian, was “մայրենի լեզու” which literally means “mother tongue.” This represents the first language of a child, which in my case is Armenian. Why is the language of a child represented as the mother’s language? Why not father’s language or the village language? Seeing my children grow up in a country where English is the first language I now fully understand this expression. My wife speaks Western Armenian while I speak Eastern Armenian. Even though my son understands both languages very well (they are not so different), he speaks his mother’s Western Armenian. In addition, he speaks Armenian vs. English almost in the same proportion as his mother. Having observed others, the same is roughly true for many other children. Of course, the time we spend with them is what causes this to happen. So, if I were to be a full-time stay-at-home Mr. Mom, they would probably speak what I speak. But time aside, given life the way we have it, I finally understand why generations have called the first/primary language the “mother tongue” rather than anything else.

The third expression that does not leave me alone is “giving someone the benefit of the doubt.” I do not know whether this has anything to do with the Jury system or the standard of being certain “beyond any reasonable doubt” but for me that’s exactly what this expression represented. While sitting in the Jury room, all I did was give someone the benefit of the doubt of the facts until I could no longer doubt the facts.

Having thought of these three, I am now looking forward to other words that stick out in daily conversation because of some special unique meaning.

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