Magic Words


While she was in the kitchen and returning to the dinner table, I asked Miriam to bring me something. She asked, “What’s the magic word?” My grandmother avers that the ‘magic word’ is ‘please,’ which can make so many things easy that would be impossible without it. We have never played such a game in our house; we try to use courtesy but do not require it.

I told Miriam I did not know the magic word and asked for a hint. “It begins with a ‘p’ and ends with an ‘e’.” This is the sort of hint Miriam has given in playing the game “I am thinking of a word” (described in ‘Pre-Readers’ Concepts of the English Word’). So I guessed: prime, purple, people, pupae, pleistocene, prune — all to no avail. “It’s ‘please,” Miriam chortled as she went to get what I wanted.

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