Fascination with language
Long ago and far away an electrical engineering major decided he really wasn’t an engineer and, after 90 semester hours, switched to being a history major in a Bachelor of Arts program. That person was me.
History was my second love. My first love may have actually been Physics, but I was thinking practically when I graduated from high school. “Be an engineer!” Seventeen year old males should not be that practical; they will evolve after seeing things in college they had never imagined. I’ve said that, if I had started college as a Physics major, I may have finished that degree from the start. As it is, I have enough semester hours to have a minor in Physics, save for not having a course in Astronomy.
However, my second love introduced me to language and communications in all its glory. Reading. Writing. Humanities classes (the same I would have had as a Physics major, by the way). I even voluntarily took a course called “History and Structure of the English Language.”
As an interesting side note, having that linguistics course (History and Structure) put me in good stead the first time I met my late mother-in-law. She was from Friesland. West Frisian, her first language, is the closest language to English. She had several plates on her wall with sayings in Frysk and Nederlands. There is one a tried to translate, based on what I had learned in the linguistics class:
It is de boer allike folle,
oft de kou skyt of de bolle.
I was getting close (but not quite). She saw what I was doing. She translated it for me:
To the farmer it is alike
whether the cow shits or the bull.
Of course I laughed. I think that was the moment she decided she was going to like me. And, I learned that the more literal translation of the verb used for defecation is not as forbidden in Frisian as in English. In this case, I chose to use the literal translation, and not a softer word. You can more easily see which Frisian word corresponds to what English word.
Brea, bûter en griene tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk.
Bread, butter and green cheese is good English and good Fries [Frisian].
I was sidetracked from learning some Scots Gàidhlig after my parents moved here from Missouri. In the past few years, I’ve gained a fascination with ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. (To be honest, I’ve gained fascination with anything Hawaiian.)
Why did I stay at what is an institution of science and engineering when I switched majors to History?
That answer is best answered by Mohammad Dehghani, PhD, Chancellor of the MIssouri University of Science and Technology. His Friday email on the week after I wrote this blog piece answers that question: To the End of the Earth!
For the record, Dr. Jack Ridley was my academic advisor as a History major. I survived Historiography (with its dreaded scavenger hunt in the library) with Dr. Wayne Bledsoe.