Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chice are going to England

A couple of years ago, I was having a very hard time both sleeping well and sleeping enough.  So I started taking Benadryl (or, actually, a generic equivalent) at night to help me sleep, and then this spring, I started taking two pills a night: it's made a big difference, and I get a lot more full nights of sleep now.

For better or worse, the Benadryl doesn't really seem to alter my dreams: I still rarely remember having any, and while I don't recall any recent alien-invasion dreams, I never did have them very frequently.

This morning, for whatever reason (Rosemary diagnoses the reason as anxiety: you can be the judge), I work up with a very clear memory of parts of a dream I had.  In the early part of the dream, I was somehow working as an Antiques Roadshow-style appraiser, where I was supposedly the specialist in identifying medieval things: I remember conducting one appraisal (in French, of course) for a small grouping of children's stuffed-cloth toys, printed on the cloth to look like pea-pods filled with peas.  I told the disappointed owner that they appeared to date from about 1890, and thus were definitely not medieval: I specifically recall saying: "look how these images are printed: if these were medieval we'd expect to see them look more like woodcuts."

Somehow, later in the dream, I was working with a group of students, and for some reason I needed to persuade them of the quality and value of their knowledge of the English pronoun system.  "Who knows all the forms of 'I'" I asked.  "I, me, my, mine?"  Everybody raised their hands.  "Who knows all the forms of 'you'?" I asked and followed it up with "he," she," we," and "they."  Everybody knew them all.

Then one student piped up with a question: "What about 'chice'?"

Of course I was dumbfounded. 

"Chice" I thought; "what the hell is 'chice'?"  But, in that dream way, all the students were looking around and nodding.  "What about 'chice'?" seemed to be a question on everybody's minds.

So I started in on a spiel: "Well, there's an old saying," I began, "that there's an idiot in every crowd, and maybe I'm the idiot here--but I've never heard of 'chice.'  What kind of pronoun is it?"  Of course, there wasn't much clear answer forthcoming, until one student brought me a grammar textbook of some kind, and there was "chice" printed right in black and white in the middle of a table of English pronouns.

Of course when I saw it on the chart I recognized it right away as doing the work of the Old English dual pronouns like "wit" (= "we two" or "you and I"--a kind of plural that can only include two members).  Naturally, I started in on a kind of historical explanation, but with the problem of "chice" apparently solved in my own mind, I woke right up. 

So: there it is--antiques and valuation, English linguistics, the value of knowledge about medieval matters and Old English.  I guess that's what's on my mind these days. 

But I think Rosemary and I may be using sentences like "Chice are going to England" for the next few days, perhaps.  Wish us luck!

1 comment:

Michael said...

Nice dream, but I'm confused. Is "Chice" a real word or not? And how do I pronounce it when I want to call you in the middle of the night and freak you out? ;-)