Tuesday, June 7, 2011


By Drew Martin

When I was a much younger man, a student, I reasoned that my pursuits of biology and art would be best fulfilled by raising children. What else could be closer to the "study of life" and creation? The truth is, whatever your calling, having children and watching them grow gives you insight to every little detail in life.

I became interested in languages and linguistics when I lived in Europe for several years so I always like to listen to my kids speak and express themselves.

My 12-year-daughter is fond of ending thoughts with "...and yeah."

According to an online slang dictionary, "...and yeah" finishes a sentence making it complete. It is used when the rest of a sentence would be either redundant in repeating what they already said or they forget what they were going to say, or they just felt like ending the sentence then and there.

The contributor from that source did not know the origin, but noted its use at least a decade ago.

"And yeah" used to drive me nuts but now I like it. There is something upbeat about it.

My 11-year-old son is the master of avoidance. He likes to get out of things, such as chores and other obligations...especially answering me. So recently he distilled the perfect answer and in doing so has created a new usage of the word "ish."

As a suffix and and adverb ish indicates approximation and can mean about, almost, around, close to, loosely, near, nearly and roughly.

Let's meet around noon-ish.''

She's already a mother of two. How old do you think she is, ish?

This creature, pictured right, looks fish-ish.

How was the show?" "It was good, ish"

I had, however, never heard anyone simply use "ish" as stand-alone response until two weeks ago when my son started using it as the all encompassing answer. It is actually the ultimate usage of ish because now it spans nouns and adjectives.

So if you ask, "What time will you be home?" Instead of being answered "Seven or eight-ish," you simply get "Ish."

This could seem very frustrating but for one thing it is generally a positive response, and at worse, a diplomatic "Yes and no." So while it sometimes leads to a circuitous discussion as a parent, I actually love this usage and open-ended meaning.

Have you been following the news?