Having learned English through my parents’ accents, my speech was decidedly off-mark on some pronunciations when younger. I took “meditzin” when sick, counted out “fivty, sixdy,” and other such bon mots. As time went on, matters got much worse as I learned high-falutin words through my reading, but never heard those words properly pronounced. I drank “beeveriges” and talked about the poor “Haytee’ins”. And then, as time went on, I noted my speech is always somewhat off. I might know some pronunciations but mispronounce anyway without censure, for certain words roll off my tongue just wrong. Magnesium is one word (I say magnee-shium) and, no matter how many times I am corrected, for whatever my oral muscle’s reasoning, it feels more proper for me to say the word wrong. Yeah, yeah, stubborn even on this count. I also mix up vowels. Not a Spoonerism; I miss up the middle of the word very often, instead of the beginning of the words.
But all that pales when contrasted with my real oops moments, when the wrong phrase will come out. A few summers ago I kept dehydrating. One of those times, I took my weary, dazed self to the doctor’s office. As he discussed with me my mineral and vitamin levels, we came to the fact that I was deficient in some. I owned up to taking supplements, he asked me for the volume I took, and, blithely, I responded, “2,000 IUDs”. I remember the fog on my brain, I remember something didn’t sound right, but I was too weary to think what might be wrong. The doctor blinked and said, “What?” And I repeated, “2000 IUDs”.
Yeah, not one of my more intelligent moments.
I was asked to help a dinner honoree with her speech-writing. She told me the Torah portion, I opened the Sefer, and before you know it, we had the most inspiring speech that began, “in this week’s Torah portion…” Except that, as I sat there at the dinner event and heard her speak, I realized that, oops, wrong Parsha. I must have opened the Sefer wrong. It was a great speech, just not tied into the week, as I thought it was.
Last week, I put up a post for the Parsha for a brief day, but then had that same “oops” moment when I realized I had put a further Parsha’s insight in the wrong slot.
It happens a lot, my oops moments. Most times it happens when I am exhausted beyond words. But that doesn’t really excuse it.
Yup, this is a confession post. I need to be working on my “thought-out” muscle, to engage brain before operating mouth. To listen to the sages who instructed us that we must always think through what we will say, BEFORE we say it. Double-check our words.
Last week’s Parsha, somehow or other, the Shevatim’s mouths overshot what they should have said and they owned up to a younger brother. Yaakov berates them for that – tells them they should have refrained from saying it. This week, we see Yehuda carefully choosing his words to placate Yosef and then we later see Yosef choosing carefully his words as he revealed himself to his brothers, his carefully-worded missive to his father, and even his instructions of what should be said to Paroh. Thought-out words are way more effective and do way less damage.
As Twain wisely said, “’tis better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
Me needs to learn it. Or I ‘ll continue to have athlete’s foot in my mouth.