If they need help with their clothes, my children will ask me to “off-button” them. They want their trailer “off-hooked,” and say that Dad “off-hitched” the horse. When Eric has his big box of firewood carried up, he gleefully off-loads it into the woodbox.
The prefix un– doesn’t have a spot in my children’s vocabulary. I’m guessing they get the word off from our German dialect. Sometimes I’ll correct them, but mostly I ignore it, hoping someday it’ll correct itself. The day I found the word off-load in one of my favorite columnist’s pieces was the day I gasped as I read: “An hour later I was off-loaded and ready to go.”
I couldn’t believe it. I read it again. Still it read off-loaded. To really top things, later he had written, “When the off-loading was done, she had an accurate count of plants.”
“Listen to this,” I told Allan. “Some big boy never learned to let go of his Dutchy phrases.”
Later it struck me. Something was wrong. Never before had I detected a mistake in that columnist’s articles, nor in any other part of that newspaper, for that matter. The dictionary would know, I knew.
Gulp! There it was with all the other common off- words like off-season, offside, and even off-the-wall. In bold, dark letters it read “off-load,” and its meaning was simple: unload. Better get busy off-loading that wood, boys.
Enter to win a copy of Simple Pleasures below!
*Excerpted with permission from Simple Pleasures: Stories from my Life as an Amish Mother
Marianne Jantzi is an Amish writer and homemaker in Ontario, Canada. Formerly a teacher in an Amish school, Jantzi now educates and inspires through her “Northern Reflections” column for The Connection, a magazine directed mainly to Amish and plain communities across the U.S. and Canada. She and her husband have four young children and run a shoe store among the Milverton Amish settlement of Ontario.
Sign up here to be the first to get exclusive news delivered to your inbox monthly. New books, cover reveals, coupon codes, giveaways, first-look excerpts and much more.