Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eye Heart Ewe

If I were an ESL student taking a spoken English class, an early lesson would surely be pronouns.

For example, I would learn that the 1st person singular and 2nd person singular pronouns were (pronounced) "i" and "u".

Later, if I stumbled across the written words "eye" and "ewe" and heard that these words were pronounced "i" and "u", I would think (in my native language, of course), "Well that makes good sense.  Apparently English pronouns follow the 'e-e' pattern.  The 3rd person singular pronoun is probably spelled 'ehe' or something like that.  What a wonderfully predictable language English is!"

Of course, if you're reading this, you see where this is going.  "i" (the pronoun) is actually spelled "I".  "u" (the pronoun) is actually spelled "you".  "Eye" and "ewe"?  Those are completely different words with no relation to "I" and "you"--or to each other, except for their similar spelling.

There are weird things in English all the time.  Like this: The first names of our OBGYN and pediatrician were, respectively, "Elan" and "Leland."  What are the odds that the first name of your OBGYN would be laid smack in the middle of the first name of your pediatrician?  How many names does that work with?  Can't be very many.  It doesn't exactly rock my world--it's just a weird thing, that's all.

So it is with "eye" and "ewe".  Why are these two words--the meanings' of which have nothing in common--so similarly (and oddly!) spelled, when their homophones "I" and "you" are spelled nothing alike but have closely related meanings?  Just weird.

These are things I sometimes think about in traffic, bed, or less intense moments of church.  After sharing with Beth my discovery of the "eye/ewe" linguistic oddity, I would occasionally write to her the encoded message: "eye heart ewe".  Sometimes the word "eye" would become a drawn eyeball, "heart" would become a drawn heart, and "ewe" would become a girly little sheep.  Something like this:

or "eye <3 ewe" when texting

For me, this became a special way of saying those three magic words.  One of "our little things."  Beth is very special, and I don't tell her enough.  In the grand scheme of things, this doodle doesn't communicate but a fraction of a percent of how special she is and how special she is to me in particular.  But a fraction of a percent is more than nothing.  So I try to say "I love you" frequently enough that it is persuasive.  And when she sees "eye heart ewe", I hope that this special way of communicating those 3 words adds just an extra little dash of "...and you're super special to me."

So I had the image printed up on coffee mugs.

"Where's the ewe?"

"There she is!"

I finally presented Beth the gift a couple of days ago.  It went from being a birthday present, to a Mother's Day present, to an anniversary present, to a "just because" present.  Why all the delays?  (Quick heads up: I'm about to say something that you might think is just me being funny, but is actually true.)  Because I couldn't get the artwork right.  Yes, I know it's a 2-dimensional, black & white, stick figure drawing.  But I actually tried 5 different photo editing programs before I was able to figure out how to make one do what I wanted it to do: 1) make sure the blacks were black; 2) make sure the whites were white; 3) make sure the edges were smooth.  Rocket science, I know.

So, congratulations to anyone in the office pool who picked "He's probably designing a coffee mug" as their answer to "What's do you think Rob's been up to lately?"  And kudos to and the Sharpie marker company for helping make this happen.  And, of course, extra special tip of the cap to Beth for being so special.



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