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Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Have you ever thought about what vacation means?  I mean, not what it entails, but linguistically, what it means. I never really did.  I know people think about and want different things from vacation.  

Some people are all about doing nothing on vacation.
Some people want to do as much as they can on vacation.
Some people think of vacation as a time to splurge, to buy things they wouldn't normally buy, to treat themselves well.
Some people save and penny pinch all year round so they can afford to go on a vacation.
Some people go into debt because they don't save and penny pinch and still go on extravagant vacations.
Some people like to vacation with family or friends.
Some people think being with family and friends doesn't count as a vacation.

As my husband and I set out on vacation a few weeks ago, I connected the dots between two words in Slovak (the language that I'm learning) and that made me want to connect the dots in English as well.  

Consider it a linguistic journey based on curiousity.

dovolenka: the Slovak word for vacation
dovoliť: the Slovak verb, "to allow"

Often Slovaks use this verb about themselves when they are saying they can't allow themselves something, food, a haircut, time to relax, etc.

This leads to the speculation that somewhere along the line, Slavic language and culture saw a connection between the act or event of a vacation and allowing yourself something.  To take a break?  To spend money on a hotel or a nice meal?

Seems to make sense.  Cool.

vacation: the American English word for vacation (I realize that holiday is used in Britain, but I won't comment on that)
vacate: the English verb indicating emptying.

Hmm.  Interesting.  I can still track with it, but it's interesting that in English vacation comes from a word that is more about what it's not than what it is.  Leaving.  Not working.  Not being stingy.  Not staying home.  Not being stressed.

Now, I am by no means an actual trained linguist, nor am I a trained cultural analyst.  However, I do think that language indicates subtle things about our general thinking and actions as a culture.  And I think that learning other languages can give us different perspectives on how to think and act.

So how do you think about vacation?  What things have influenced the way you look forward to, plan and experience vacation - your family, your job, your friends, your interests, your personality, your language?

Just curious.

And now I'll just vacate this post and allow myself to enjoy the road trip part of my current dovo-cation.  Or Vacalenka.  Whatever. 

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