July 10, 2010

Greetings from Daren

So, this is my first contribution to the corkboard, so I'll start with a basic introduction of myself. First I'll confirm or deny the rumors on my bio. Yes, I'm Irish, but only part, as I'm a typical American mutt. I call myself Hiberno-Gallo-Anglo-Algonquin. Yes, I love potatoes, but only because they are the toughest veggie on the planet, and the easiest to grow (i.e. the hardest to screw up), barring another occurrence of the Blight (made famous in the 1840s, and yes, 2009). I love languages, I learned some useful ones (like Spanish and Turkish), and some not so useful, like Irish. I mostly learn that one because the English used to not let us. Anything to make the Queen mad, eh?

Anyways, enough about me. In my first post I'm going to give a quick survey of the languages spoken on the farm. We of course have English, but full of jargon related to our field, and then of course inside jokes and a "groupspeak" that has arisen amongst our veteran crew. Every day an outsider could listen in and hear something that to them, would be incomprehensible. Victoria may request that the packers do the "blue letti" and put them in "Narnia" when they're done. ("Blue" refers to which CSA site they're going to. "Letti" is a hypercorrection form of the Latin 2nd Declension Masculine Plural, -us changing to -i, and "Narnia" is the affectionate term for our walk-in cooler.) See Windflower-isms.

From years of being friends, and then co-workers (mostly in that order), we have plenty of inside jokes that only require a word or two to be referenced. I won't bore you with inside jokes you're not in on, so I'd just recommend you think of yourself and your groups of friends, and those times that you need only say one word, and everyone is laughing, smiling, or maybe scowling as they each remember what the word refers to.

Besides our Windflower English, we also have Mexican Spanish on our farm. Our crew of migrant workers hail from rural southern Mexico, and it's been fun trying to decipher thick accents that one does not find in the typical American "donde esta el banyo?" kind of classroom. Spanish has had a marked effect on our English since the languages have mixed. A large part of Windflower English includes heavy word borrowing. Many times, two Americans will prefer the Spanish words for vegetables. A typical example, "should we do the papas first, or the remolachas?" Common farm items might also have a preferred Spanish term. We are more likely to talk of banyeras than tubs, we like ligas over rubber bands, and an American favorite is to talk of agua more than water. We also regularly greet each other and take leave in Spanish (yes, even American to American), making for an interesting morning of "buenos dias" and later an always-welcomed exchange of "hasta el lunes" as our weekends start.

The final language to mention is the Windflower Pidgin which has started, which is neither proper Spanish, nor proper English. In fact it's not proper anything. It's similar to our English, as it involves lots of Spanish nouns, especially for vegetables, whiles the verbs are split between using the English verb, or just using a poor ole dictionary form of the Spanish verb (a common feature of pidgins, look at Haitian Creole, or even Afrikaans). Some samples of our Pidgin- "Cosechar nabos en el campo norte," which is "Harvest turnips from the North Field." Or we might say "Las remolachas, no bueno!", our common way to express basic displeasure with something. The rule is, you can take a noun, say it, leave a pause in for a moment, and tack on "(no) bueno/bien" and express your opinion on it. Basically it's Tarzan-speak Spanish with occasional lonely English words thrown in the mix.

So, that is our basic linguistics survey. Full of jargon, idiolect, word borrowings, word coinage, and all the other fascinating features of human language.


  1. Dear All,

    It was such a pleasure meeting as many of you as I did this weekend and getting a chance to learn more about you! Thank you for being so generous with your stories and spirit! I am so looking forward to August and to having you out to Brooklyn for a visit! I will definitely be checking the corkboard regularly, and again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone!

    Johanna T.
    Prospect Heights CSA

  2. Yeah it was a great time, and thanks for the patience as we told the stories, haha. And don't worry, we'll take it easy on the politics next time, eh?

    A further note on potatoes-
    I love them because if you bury stem, it will become root, and if you expose the eye shoots to the air, it will become stem and leaves will form. Whatever circumstances they are put in, they change gears and make things work. I guess I like them for the metaphors they provide...they always react to their environment and make do. A role model vegetable, who would have thought of that?

  3. Hey, thanks for commenting. We'd love to correspond with more of the "city folk" and get to know what they think about Windflower. Spread the word around Prospect Heights and let them know that they can ask, tell, or laugh about their own stories and ours.

    Also, it was great to have you and Elizabeth up for the evening. I enjoyed chatting and can't wait for the chance to visit the city to introduce you all to canning and pickling some veggies.