I’m not sure what made me think of the word groovy this morning. Lord knows it’s not a word you hear often these days. But as I thought about it, I considered how it’s odd how we can refer to the rhythm of a song, as well as channel cut into a surface, as a groove. Sure, sometimes two different words can arrive at the same spelling and sound from different sources, but I assumed that groove in a musical sense was too modern not to be related to the already-existing groove.

Continue reading

Overpowered by Funk

Marge, when kids these days say “bad,” they mean “good.” And to “shake your booty” means to wiggle one’s butt. Permit me to demonstrate…  – Homer Simpson

What do you think of when you hear the word funk? Possibly music, with a particular catchy, sexy kind of grooviness. Or perhaps not necessarily music, but something else with a similar kind of cool. You might also be thinking of the 1970s at the same time, but funk of course is truly timeless.

You may, however, think of a smell. Not just any smell, but one so overpowering, so ripe, so pungent that it’s completely repulsive. Old blue cheese wrapped in a dirty sports sock on a hot summer day kind of repulsive. That could certainly be described as funky. But why would we use the same word for two such different things? Continue reading

How do You be Doing?

When does English sound like jazz?

When you’re Irish.

When I was a younger man I thought nothing of talking about my habits and routines in such terms:

I do be going to the park regularly.

I do be often working on Saturdays. 

If I were to translate that into more standard English, it would be:

I go to the park regularly.

I often work on Saturdays.

These latter sentences are in the present simple tense, which we use to talk about routines, habits, and general truths. So why would I choose a more convoluted form instead of something more… simple? Well, you can’t change where you’re born. Such a structure (I do be +-ing), while not so common anymore, was a common part of Irish English (or Hiberno-English). Continue reading