Scholastic Saturday: Getting Rid of the Facade

So, disclosure of the day:  sometimes I pretend to know words and phrases that I don’t really know.  Isn’t that something you learn in school?  When you’re learning to read, and you come across a word you don’t know the definition of, before you look it up in the dictionary, you use the context of the sentence and see if you can figure out the definition yourself (yes, I realize those were a whole lot of commas in one sentence.  Sorry).

There are certain words and phrases that I’ve seen so often that I don’t know the definition of, but I feel confident in knowing what it means that I never look it up.  Also, FULL disclosure:  sometimes I’m just too lazy to look it up in the dictionary.

But today that changes.  At least for one word and one phrase.  Baby steps and all that.

The first comes from my recent obsession with interior decorating.  This summer and fall, I checked out like a million (okay, maybe about 40 in reality) decorating books.  In almost every one, I saw this word:

*CHINOISERIE*

The ironic thing is, though they were design books, there weren’t a lot of pictures.  Apparently the term “chinoiserie” is so huge in the design world that it’s just assumed that you know what it is, like “chair” or “table”.  One doesn’t need to see a picture of those things; they already know what it is.  So it was sort of a point of pride for me to pretend to know what it meant.  And what I thought it meant, according to what I read, was something along the lines of:

Chinoiserie: (n).  A fake wallpaper backdrop used to simulate a real inanimate object.

Do you know why I thought that?  Because the only picture I saw associated with the term chinoiserie was a real library on three sides, then a fake wall of books (it was a graphic that looked extremely real).  So, I ask, what would you assume chinoiserie meant?

Eventually, though, I had to go and check my bases to see if I was right, and this is what I found:

chi·noi·se·rie 

/SHēnˌwäz(ə)ˈrē/

Noun
1. The imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, esp. in the 18th century.
2. Objects or decorations in this style.Okay, guys.  Come on.  Now what in the world do BOOKS have to do with that definition?  I feel like I’ve been tricked.  The problem is, I’d already returned said book to the library.  So I couldn’t further inspect it.  The only thing I can think of is that those books in the library were artsy Chinese books.  Who knows?  Anyways, since I felt I was cheated a real picture of chinoiserie, I looked it up on Google images, and found these.

There’s even a whole blog about it, which I actually think is fabulous!  It’s called Chinoiserie Chic.  I have to admit it’s fun to browse all the chinoiserie.  My favorite one that I found (I’m biased because it’s purple) is this one:
Purple Chinoiserie
But for sure, the monkey ones are a really really close second for their cuteness and quirkiness:
Monkey Chinoiserie 1Monkey Chinoiserie 2

You’re welcome.  :)

Then there’s the phrase that I learned that comes around every football season:

12TH MAN

I have to say first and foremost that I’m NOT a sports fan.  If I were to choose one that was my least favorite, though, it would probably be football.  I know, I’m totally un-American.  My favorite would probably be basketball or extreme sports.  But out of all the sports at my disposal, I’d have to say football is the hardest to understand.  Like baseball, I only care or get swept up in it when I’m at the game live.  If it’s just on TV, I don’t care.  I’d much rather watch sitcoms or talk shows or reality TV.  Anyhow, I hear talk of the 12th Man a lot, and especially this year when it comes to the Seattle Seahawks.  For the longest time I just assumed that it was some dude on the sidelines, or the guy that wore the #12 jersey.  Silly me, though.  Apparently you can only have a maximum of 11 players on the field at a time, and that the Seahawks retired the #12 jersey awhile ago (as per Wikipedia).

The 12th man, for the slim margin of people like me who don’t know, refers to a team’s fans.  In this case, the term is specifically reserved for Seahawks fans and Texas A&M fans.  According to Wikipedia, this phrase was supposed to belong exclusively to Texas A&M, even though several other sports teams used to use it.  But the Seahawks, and the Seahawks only, settled a suit out of court with Texas A&M to be able to use it and they pay them to use it.  The other sports teams who previously used it couldn’t afford to pay it, I guess.  Or?  Other theory?  They, like me, think it’s absolutely ridiculous to have to pay someone to use a phrase.  Anyhow, it’s 12th man time.  Excuse me while I knit and/or read a book while others watch the game.  :)

And that, folks, is my self-education of the day.  Have a great Saturday!

To Not Having to Pretend Anymore (and being legit!) (and crazy monkeys!),
Violet

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2 thoughts on “Scholastic Saturday: Getting Rid of the Facade

  1. I like that you own up to it :-) Few people are brave enough to admit they didn’t know what a word meant. My internal definition of Chinoiserie was pretty fuzzy as well, but I had the advantage of knowing that it meant Chinese in French, so that context clue helped a lot.

  2. After finding the definition, I kinda did one of those facepalms where I was surprised I didn’t recognize the “chinois” part of it in the first place. That’s a pretty big clue right there. :) Ah, well. I’m happy for the chance to look at pretty, colorful things, so I’m not complaining.

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