Saturday, May 17, 2008

Personal Etymology.

One day I noticed that one of my coworkers was reacting to a piece of news with a low, drawn-out, "Whuuuut." You know, like shorthand for "What the hell."

"Hey!" I thought. "She picked that up from me." I would have been flattered if the intonation had been mine in the first place, but the fact was that I had already stolen it from my former coworker Bill. Now my coworker from Hawaii was talking like my former coworker from South Carolina. American state fusion!

I am painfully aware that my speech patterns, catchphrases and laughing styles are 95 percent plagiarized from other people. I have stolen one laugh from my sister, another from my friend Haylie. I have a certain way of making pronouncements that comes from Jen, and a way of imitating smug people that comes from Marcel. I say "bummer" now because of Rosie, and have an anticipatory "get excited!" tone directly cadged from Crissy. I was one of those annoying people who picked up the inflection when I went abroad to London (though to my credit, I lost it after awhile, unlike you, Madonna). I mean, is there nothing original about my speech patterns? I wait for the day when someone imitates me -- and it's really me.