Guest Writer DSP Dad Eric Taylor: When the Language Barrier is Broken

In the place that is Portlandia, soccer is sort of a  big deal.

My children play soccer, watch it on television and have been to many a Portland Timbers game where we sit in the upper-level seats of the Timbers Army section.

With its flag waving and non-stop cheering, experiencing the fabled north end has been nothing short of glorious. The people who make up the crowd: a living, breathing, boisterous symbol of a proud city.

But recently my 10-year-old daughter and I had a chance to get closer to the field and we took it.

Be careful little ears...what you may hear.

Now you should understand the difference between the upper and lower levels of “this section” is like the difference between The Director’s Cut DVD version of Pulp Fiction and the one edited for television.  Meaning, the further down you go, the more grown up it gets.  Words begin to match lip movement and the imagery becomes more… shall we say… vivid.

Up to this point, thanks to my quick thinking, my children would tell you the Timbers are “trucking great” because they truck down the field.  And that we didn’t tell the referee to take another “bong hit” we told him to take another gong hit. You know, instead of using a whistle.

These things didn’t make sense and they really didn’t have to, after all not much has to make sense when the guy four rows in front of you is wearing a Mexican wrestling mask.

But now my cover was blown.  Every word was crystal clear and no amount of tinkering with consonants could save her from the ugly truth.

Grace: “Dad, who are these people?”

Me:      “Oh, your people.”

Grace:  “But I don’t talk like ‘these people’ she whispered in my ear.

Me:      “Thank heaven for that!  Another bite of pretzel?” (at least that kind of saltiness didn’t need explaining)

But as the team scored points, I scored an opportunity. An opportunity to be honest with my daughter about the words people use and a chance for her to demonstrate the kind of maturity that exceeds, well mine, at times.

As we left, Grace told me she didn’t hear anything there she didn’t hear before and that she would never use those words herself in or out of the stadium.   “Unless we play the Sounders, Dad. Then I am not so sure. ”

If my daughter can pick her battles then I guess I can pick mine.


Eric Taylor is a seasoned journalist, dad and soccer fan who lives in Portland, Oregon

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One Response to Guest Writer DSP Dad Eric Taylor: When the Language Barrier is Broken

  1. John says:

    Nice piece. Thanks for sharing.

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