Do you get a bun with that?

by Kyla

Here’s the deal: I have the vocabulary of a horse-fly.

For reals.

While this wasn’t so much of an issue when I did nothing all day but read People magazine, my glaring word deficiencies became apparent to me once I started at VIU. Always willing to be the person who asks stupid questions in class (in fact, stupid questions are the only kind of questions I ask), I’d put up my hand.

“What does ’empirical’ mean,” I called out in the middle of class. And then, later, upon coming across the word hegemony:

“What’s hedge-a-moan-ie”?

“Well,” said my professor, “some people pronounce that hu-gem-a-nie.”

“Right,” said I. “How should I pronounce it if I want to sound less illiterate?”

He repeated his pronunciation, and I wrote it down phonetically as best I could, so that later I could stand in front of the mirror and practice it, all part of my campaign to pretend that I actually belong at VIU and not, say, on a reality TV set somewhere.

Over the last couple of years I picked up a few words here and there, so as I can now compose a sentence that doesn’t appear to have been written by a second grader. Ever eager for a chance to show off how S.M.R.T. I am, this morning when discussing my recent cruise with my friend, Kim*, I said, “frankly, it all felt a little bourgeoisie.”

“Bourgeoisie?” said Kim. “What is that? Like a soup or something?”


“Do you get a bun with that?” Kim asked.

I nodded. “Sure. It’s like a gumbo.”

“Really? Because I was thinking something chilled. Like vichyssoise. That’s all I could think of.”

“Nah,” I said, “that’s more of a compote. Bourgeoisie is more of, you know, bullion-based.”

This, right here, is one of the benefits of a university education. As much as I enjoy learning historical facts about Canada, I am particularly thrilled by the opportunity to increase my vocabulary, and furthermore the vocabulary of my friends, whether they want me to or not.

*Actually her real name. I didn’t check with her before using her real name in my blog, but I am sure she’ll be thrilled. Right, Kim?