Word Optimism

The photos in this piece are from the recent wedding; there is a reason for that so read on.

I read a piece today, quoting Susie Dent, who may be known to British readers as the wordsmith on the TV programme Countdown. She is leading a campaign to bring back into use some words that are more usually associated with their negative form.

She wants us to be ept at our use of words and gruntled when we get the use right. We should be ruthfull about dismissing them and not feel combobulated when confronted with something unusual.

I wholeheartedly agree. I intend to take care and be feckfull in my future uses.

It did make me think a bit about one question that has been bothering me since my son married a month or so ago. I have acquired a daughter in law, and delightful she is too. She joins a son in law that fell into the family a couple of years ago and he’s an excellent addition.

More to the point their parents are grand company. Two weekends ago we spent a few days with the DIL’s parents and in two week’s we are being hosted by the SIL’s.

But what do we call them, to identify how they relate to us? I was slightly perturbed by being relegated to my son’s mother’s partner by a teacher at his primary school who struggled to categorize me as she didn’t know the status of my relationship with his mother. It made me a little third hand.

So if we are not to be our son’s parents in law, what are we?

We thought outlaws might suit and so far everyone favours that nomenclature but has anyone else confronted this and come up with a solution?

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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26 Responses to Word Optimism

  1. Darlene says:

    So very pleased to see pictures of the wedding. Everyone looks smashing! I read that very same Susie Dent article and thought it was very clever.
    As for your children’s in-laws, I would suggest you just call them by their names, John and Betty or whatever. Even Mr and Mrs so and so is too formal these days.


  2. In the search for equality and fairness I have taken to calling everyone Madam. It gets a little confusing sometimes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gordon759 says:

    Susie Dent might well be able to give you an answer. There is an obsolete term for ‘The father of one’s daughter-in-law or son-in-law’. It is brother in law, or of course sister in law.
    The first reference is, of course, Shakespeare (in The Winters Tale). it is also the last reference given in the OED.

    On the other topic you mentioned, I was reading an early seventeenth century description of Dorset the other night, and I was delighted to see that the Spanish Armada was described as vincible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmmm. Can’t help. We always called the in-laws by their first names. Of course, when they were out of sight I would call them your mom and your dad. With others, I would say “My wife’s parents.” My parents had passed so there was no confusion at all there. The wedding photos were great.


  5. Sadje says:

    In my language, Urdu, we have a name for every relationship. In laws of a child are called “samdhi “ two people married to sisters are called “humzulf “ and all the uncles and aunts have different names, like a Khala is mother’s sister and phuphi is father’s sister. It’s a bit complicated! 😂🤣😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Samdhi… is that pronounced with a silent h? As my son is Sam I suppose that makes his inlaws ‘Sammy’s Samdhis’ Thanks Sadje, English has a lot to learn from Urdu!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sadje says:

        Yup! That right. Sometimes it becomes too much but it’s useful at times. You’re welcome


      • I think there are many English words which are of Indo-European origin, going back to well before colonial times. It’s a really interesting subject. As I understand it, even though the modern English language contains a lot of words of Anglo-Saxon/Germanic origin, the Anglo-Saxons had developed their language from the Indo-European influence.


  6. willowdot21 says:

    Beautiful photos Geoff. A lovely couple and yourselves and your outlaws certainly cut a dash. I used to call my Mother in Law the outlaw. With our in law’s we just call them by first names.
    As for words we can use as many as we like, and I do like to, yet in the end it all means the same. Have a good day.


  7. Don’t worry about it. Whatever you choose will be non-pc fast enough


  8. trifflepudling says:

    I’ve never heard of Susie Dent! I don’t know what you’d call them when talking about them to other people – Outlaws sounds slightly as if you don’t like them(!)
    Lovely photos.


  9. We’ve used the term ‘outlaws’ too and it always gets a smile. Lovely photos. Congrats to the groom, bride and families.


  10. p.s. I like those old and weird words and wish we wordsmiths would create some entirely new ones too. I try to slip in at least one made-up word into my books, hoping some clever reader will catch me out.


  11. noelleg44 says:

    I’ll be feckfull in the future so as not to be combobulated in my use of terms. My Dad always insisted he and Mom were the outlaws.


  12. Elizabeth says:

    It gets even more confusing when there has been a divorce. My ex husband’s mother? I always kept on thinking of her as my mother in law, despite the confusion.


  13. Widdershins says:

    Non-kissin’ cousins? 😀


  14. Love the photos and I have enough trouble with words evading me to add rare old words to the mix. I love words. Outlaws works for me too.


  15. JT Twissel says:

    Such beautiful pictures. You’re lucky – my son-in-law’s parents are deceased and my daughter-in-law’s parents are very conservative. I’m afraid of what they might call us!


  16. “I was slightly perturbed by being relegated to my son’s mother’s partner by a teacher at his primary school who struggled to categorize me as she didn’t know the status of my relationship with his mother.” You have nailed it, Geoff. You might not be a husband, or the father, or even male for that matter in today’s interesting world. I have in-laws and may well be an out-law, or not. It depends on whether marriage still exists in a few years time.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jennie says:

    I think you would enjoy ‘outlaws’. Love the photos, especially the one of you walking up the aisle.

    Liked by 1 person

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