Thang About eight years

October 13, 2003


Thang

About eight years ago we were at an all-night contra-dance in central Virginia. One of the callers was from Texas. He had a remarkable accent. Among other things, he would call for the dancers to "swang" their partners. He liked to call dances with a lot of swanging; he was also a good caller and a lot of fun.

Afterwards, we started to use swang for swing. Through a process like that of Cockney rhyming slang, we began to use thang for thing. But, a "thang" is not a "thing" - the word had grown more precise meanings in our household vocabulary. A thang is a thing that you do that is distinctly yours, either in that no one else does it or more often because no one else does it the way you do. One of my thangs is making up terrible rhymes on the spot when singing nonsense to the baby. Another of my thangs is that I teach history with a focus on the words and ideas we use to comprehend our surroundings, and on the ways these words and ideas change over time. Popular intellectual history is my thang.

Recently, blogging about teaching, babies, and random mental effluvia has also been my thang.

Posted by Red Ted at October 13, 2003 10:48 AM | TrackBack