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Friday, February 27, 2009

Is Bush a Piker?

English is a strange language. Some words can mean two different things without changing the spelling. For example, "tear" can either mean to rip apart or a drop of salt water falling from the eye. Other words with multiple meanings are lie, date, peck, hail, and many others.
The way you pronounce some words depends on which part of the country you live. The way people in the south say Don sounds like Dawn to our northern ears. I remember hearing a speaker at Writers Conference say a deadline helps writers produce material. When he said "deadline" with his southern accent, a picture of a dead lion flashed into my mind. I couldn't understand how a dead lion could help a writer. As he went on speaking I finally understood what he meant to say.
The same thing happened again today when I was listening to the news. Republican Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner was talking about President Obama's big spending plans. He said, "The President is beginning to make President Bush look like a piker when it comes to spending."
I'm sure Mr. Boehner did not have a clue what mental image flashed through my mind when he used the word "piker." Those of us who have Old Order Mennonite background know that a Piker is a Stauffer Mennonite. Their church building stands along a road which was once a turnpike and was called the Pike Mennonite Church. So Stauffer Mennonites were nicknamed Pikers. They are often mistaken for Amish because they dress in very plain clothing, do not have electric, telephones, or cars.
Picture it! Bush wearing a big black hat, driving a horse and buggy.


Anonymous said...

Yes, and speaking of words with identical spellings, yet having gained completely different meaning over the many years---consider the word "gay". Originally the word meant "merry, or happy". Today of course it has gained the colloquial meaning to include those of the homosexual lifestyle.

HOWEVER, to our friends in the Old Order Mennonite and Amish communities, it has a distinctly different third meaning. For example, I have often over the years asked one of my Piker Mennonite friends (and Amish): "I have not seen Mr. _____ Stoltzfus recently. Whatever happened to him?" And the reply I invariably get is: "Oh, he went gay." Translation---It means that this individual decided to leave the Old Order/plain lifestyle, and join the progressive/fancy folks.

Can you imagine however, the shock of those who do not understand that special meaning in hearing those words!?

Gary Good

Gene and Amy Stauffer said...

He'd fit right in.