Saturday, February 11, 2017

On Tailors, Homographs, and Music Theory #socs

I was never all that good at sewing, and if I lost a button I’d have to sew it on myself, because Mom couldn’t sew, either (or more likely didn’t want to). Sometimes it would stay, most of the time it didn’t, but I’d keep sewing it on until I could justify throwing the thing out.

I sold men’s suits for a while when I was in college. The store I worked for had a couple of guys who were tailors. Like most tailors (at least when I was growing up) they were from Eastern Europe and had names you couldn’t pronounce. We called them Jim and Andy. Jim sounded like Bela Lugosi and looked like he had no forehead, while Andy had a voice a little like Peter Lorre. They kept pretty much to themselves in the tailor shop, but would come right away if you called them and did a spectacular job of altering men’s suits, jackets, and trousers. They almost always got it right. Not much for small talk, though. I tried talking to Jim once and he walked away. My boss explained later that neither of them could speak much English. Still, I tried to be friendly, and in their way I think they did, too.

“Sow” is one of those words that’s a homograph; it’s written the same way whether you’re talking about planting or female pigs (or bears). It’s pronounced “so” if you’re talking about the action or like “OW!” with an “s” in front of it if you’re talking about the animals. English is like that, which might be why Jim and Andy had trouble with it.

I didn’t know what to do with the word “so” until I read JoAnna’s stream-of-consciousness entry, where she mentioned “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.” I’ve also seen it as “sol,” and the do-re-mi called solfeggio or solfège. I got my baptism by fire when I tried playing with the Spanish Choir at my old parish. I’m used to seeing chord symbols like “Cm7” or “F,” but when I looked at their music I would see “Do m7” and “Fa.” Looking at the music, I’d see that the song was in B-flat and assume that meant “do” was B-flat and “fa” was E-flat, but no, they were still Cm7 and F. Took me too long to learn it, and their director said maybe I should stop playing with them, for my own good.

I was going to go really deep into this, then I thought, nah, my brain hurts enough…


Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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