Thursday, November 09, 2006

you float my boat

The other night at the Fall Festival, I forget how, I posited the phrase "it floats my boat" for Luigi and Wario's consideration (now I remember how -- it was because we were talking about learning to talk cool and say things like "hook me up with a sandwich," and I brought up antithetical uncool things I had learned to say).

Given the decided un-cool-ness of the phrase "it floats my boat," I defended it as a substitute for a passive liked-ness that I didn't see elsewhere in the English language. For example, in Spanish, you can say, "me gusta la playa," or "I like the beach." But it's literally "the beach gusts me," or, in a roundabout way, "the beach has an effect on me that I find pleasing." [For all the purists out there: you can also translate it "the beach pleases me," but I think that's really uninteresting and prudish.] So it transfers all the gusting to the outside object, leaving the speaker as the passive recipient.

Anyhow, so I was impressed with this grammatical apologetic. So much so that on Saturday I presented it proudly to the two of the most grammatically-skilled bilingual people I know, my mom and Timothy.

They were not impressed.

They thought it was folksy. They thought "it pleases me" was perfectly legitimate and a perfectly non-solipsistic substitute for the active verb.

I said I liked folksy.

Timothy said (broadly paraphrased) that this taste was painfully apparent in my choice in sweaters.

I tried to throw the napkin-holder at him.

The conversation then turned to the use of the Spanish "gustar" referring to people. Is it okay to say something like "yo le gusto a ella"?

The answer to this question depends, we discovered, on whether what you're trying to say is "she likes me," or "she likes me likes me" (somehow I learned this distinction without ever going to junior high).

Basically, my mom confessed to me a couple of days later, it's the difference between "I like you" and "you float my boat," proving that the latter phrase does indeed enjoy its own unique usefulness (for people who don't mind folksy).

I feel absolved.


David said...

Whoa, just had an "it pleases me moment!" This post reminded me of Luther's emphasis on the passive nature of faith, especially in regard to all matters soteriological (ie, God chooses you, gives you the gift of faith, predestination, etc.)

Yes, going from "me gusta" to "God saves me" is a bit of a leap, but that's how I roll. I'm a jumper. Apparently there's an area of the brain associated with this kind of thing called the "association cortex." Aaaaaaaaand I need my own blog...

Tu mamá said...

No era una confesión sino una observación que me causó gracia.