• Richard Scrimger

don't unpause

So here we are, keeping summer hours for our blog. Heavens, it's 7:30. Practically lunch time. And our word for today is -- unpause. Which, as you know, is what you do when you've hit the pause button in your video game or DVD and wish to resume playing or watching. Pause, which used to be an intransitive verb, has starting taking on an object. Pause it, my children will shout when the phone rings in the middle of a movie. And whoever has the remote will press the appropriate button. (Almost never is this me, but remote management is a topic for another day.) Your language is like your neighborhood. New words and phrases are always moving in or moving out. Some of them don't make much of an impact, but others seem ubiquitous, at least for a while. (Ubiquitous moved out of our neighborhood years ago. I still stay in touch, though.) Over the last couple of years my children have spent a fair amount of time hanging. They are not hanging pictures, or meat; they are not hanging lefts or rights; they are simply hanging. That verb (without an object in life, the lazy thing) moved in a while ago and doesn't show any signs of moving. Chill, which moved in just ahead of hang, has moved a few streets away. My daughter used it the other day, but she was embarrassed. You know how it is when you run into someone you used to know, and don't have much in common with any more. Seinfeldisms took over the whole block a few years back, and stayed for while. Most have moved on. Boratisms barely had time to unpack before they were gone. Which brings me back to unpause. Interesting word. First time I really noticed how interesting was during an exchange among my children that went something like: Ed (to Imo, holding the remote): Okay, I'm back. Unpause the movie.

Thea (on her feet, poised): No, I want to make a phone call. Don't do it.

Ed: Unpause.

Thea: Don't unpause.

Me: You know, I don't think I've heard that before. Don't unpause. You could say, Don't start. Or

even, Don't do anything.

Thea: Quiet, Dad. Don't unpause, Imo.

Ed: Unpause.

Imo (waving the remote): I tell you what I won't do ...

Sam (yawning): Whatever you do do --

Ed (laughing): Do do.

Thea: Quiet, Ed.

Sam: Well, make sure you don't not unpause. See, you start a car; you stop the car; you restart the car. You boot the computer (actually, boot moved out of our neighborhood a while ago -- we turn on the computer), then shut it down, then restart (we used to reboot. You know, I kind of miss reboot. We had some good times, just hanging together). But with the remote in hand, you start, stop, then un-stop. I wonder why we choose here to undo rather than redo. Is there another example like this? If your heart stops, they don't un-stop it, they restart it (you hope). Cancer does not go into un-remission. Don't get excited, thinking I'm about to make a killer observation here. I'm not going anywhere with this. I'm just a neighbor with a welcome basket, wondering how long unpause is going to stay. So far it seems friendly and easy to use. Might even have wider application -- summer certainly seems to be hiatus season, and in a couple of months we'll all be pushing the unpause button in our lives.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada