I taught on a Native American reservation last week. What a beautiful drive to work----along the red faced mesas, or do I call them buttes....or maybe they are plateaus? I adored the sights but wanted to know what to call what I saw. During a break, I asked one of the participants. She kindly answered, "We call them mesas." I asked if she could tell me why they didn't call them buttes, and her reply, couched in a sly smile, was "I teach fifth grade". I get it---when talking about the Navy to my 4th and 5th grade students years ago, I avoided the word "seamen" like the plague.
I had the blessing to have a weekend after that training with two very dear friends. We stayed in a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia, hiked about four miles of the Appalachian Trail, tubed in the Chattahoochee River, and went whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. Great fun, all of it, particularly bonding with Jil and Angelle.
As we drove to the trailhead to hike the AT (laden only with water and a granola bar---no huge packs like the "through" hikers have), we drove through Scorpion Hollow. That area is a valley between two mountains in the forest. Why do we call it a hollow? Inquiring minds want to know....
Later that day, we cooled off in the river while tubing with 2000 of our closest friends. The goal of this adventure is to stick to the middle of the river (where at least 1500 of your closest friends are also trying to tube) so you don't get out of the fast lane (since we were in Georgia, Angelle called it the Peach Pass Lane). My tube and I disagreed at one point about where we should float, and we ended up in a pool on the side of the river.....in a not-just-slow-moving-pool, a NO-moving pool. As Jil waved as she floated past like her tube had an engine attached to it, I yelled, "I'm stuck in an eddy!" Her cackling laughter resonated all along the river. For the next two days, she mocked my use of the word, and it would send all three of us into fits of laughter.
Once we got on the Ocoee river to whitewater raft, the real thrills began. Lest you think you could possibly experience this adventure without getting wet, wonder no more. Not an inch of our bodies or clothes remained dry ..... and that was after only 5 minutes on the river. Our group leader for the 50 people on the bus had told us the basics like "your raft guide will say 'Get down' if you need to all get inside the boat." A mile or so into the trip, our fearless and educational guide named Ken called out, "Hit the deck!" Jil, Angelle, and I looked at each other with quizzical looks while everyone else is crouched in the belly of the raft already. "I guess it means the same thing as 'Get down!'" we surmised.
Loads of water and laughter later, we concluded that no matter what you call the experience, it makes us laugh.
Ken also advised that lily-dipping wouldn't be tolerated. Angelle looked at me with a "what the heck?" look on her face, as Ken said, "Get those paddles deeper in the water!" I giggled again because I love the imagery of "lily dipping".
We had a fabulous three days of fun-filled adventure and we all have war wounds and sore....... what do you call those? oh yes.....muscles.
Just for today, consider that when you use terms like "buggy", "pop", or "hot dish", you might stymie your audience if they aren't from the same area as you.