You know how some words are just inherently entertaining? True, any word sounds funny if you say it enough times. But there’s certain words that always seem fun to me, even when you only say them once. Bubble. Finagle. Bogus. Words like that. Then, on the flipside, are the words that are intriguing to think about beyond how they sound. There’s a lot of words we just take at face value- we use them without really wondering WHY we use them. Tthe language major in me loves to break words down, explore their roots, figure out where they come from.
Today I got a friend request on Facebook from someone I don’t actually know. As I looked over her profile, I came to the job info section- and just started cracking up. Her title, as written on Facebook, was “chasseur de tetes.” Translated into English, that’s “hunter of heads.” And for some odd reason, it made me laugh so, so, hard. I got this amazing mental image and just couldn’t stop chuckling.
But once I did stop chuckling, I took a step back and thought about it a little harder. Really, this woman wasn’t calling herself anything unusual or funny. It was a literal translation of the way we say the same exact job in English- headhunter. The word isn’t exactly without oddities in English either, because it’s a bit weird to talk about hunting heads. But for some reason, when it was broken into three words, it made more of an impact on me. I took more time to think through the words, and think about what they implied. I don’t get a vivid mental image when I see the English word for headhunter. I might find it odd to say out loud and I might prefer using the word “recruiter” in its place, but I’ve definitely never laughed as hard as I did today when I was friended by this chasseur de tetes.
Which made me think a bit about what makes words compelling. Was it the French component that made it sound so different? Was it the fact that the usual single headhunter was now broken into three words? Was it simply due to the fact that I’ve been fighting some sort of illness this week and might be a bit out of it?
Unsure. But it renewed my interest in dissecting the language I actually use every day and thinking a bit harder about why we say what we do. So thank you, Facebook inviter, for stimulating such an interesting internal dialogue. And readers, I encourage you to spend a little time over the next few days just thinking about what you say and what those words really mean. You might just find a new favorite word!