Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Does Your Family Have a Secret Vocabulary?
As a children's author, I have always been fascinated with language. I have read that in the days of cavemen, it was common for the people in each cave to develop their own language. Assuming this is true (which I have been having trouble verifying), this may explain why families sometimes have developed some of their own unique words. Everyone in the family understands, however these original words may cause raised eyebrows among outsiders.
Now, I’m sure every family has its own term for “thing-a-ma-jig”, “whosie-watsis” or “watchamacallit”. But, do you have a word like “fungilated?” If you didn’t live with my daughter, would you know that this is the term used to describe mold that is growing someplace that it shouldn’t? (As in “The shower doors are fungilated.”)
How about “furbie?” How would an outsider know that we are referring to any bits of just about anything that are lying on the carpet? (As in “What are those furbies all over my newly vacuumed carpet?”)
Then there’s the “baselet.” Since our townhouse has no basement, we have a small storage area that we have renamed. (As in “Bring me a hammer from the baselet.”)
And what about “kattywompus?” This, of course, means crooked. (As in “That picture on the wall is kattywompus.”)
Have you ever entered a room that is “furshniggled?” You have if my daughter’s kids have been there. (As in “Kids, why is the living room so furshniggled?”)
Has your TV ever become “frizzled?” In my day we called it "snow," however my family coined their own term. (As in “Mom, help us. The TV is all frizzled!”)
And, has your young child ever put his hands on his hips and yelled "Pommit?" If so, did you know that this is his version of "dammit?" (As in "Pommit!!!")
I’m sure you’ve never “franned” a cake, unless, of course, you knew my elderly Great Aunt Fran. Always refusing a large slice of cake or pie, she would gently eat her share, sliver by sliver, finally consuming the equivalent of quite a large piece. (As in “I’m not too hungry. I’ll just fran the cake a bit”)
And, as you don your overcoat, if someone asks you whether you are coming or going, do you ever answer that you are just “inbetweening?” Do your kids ever tell you that the dog has been "stinkified?" When you leave a room, were you ever told to “outen the lights?” Did you ever enter the house with muddy shoes, only to be scolded for leaving “mud waffles” all over the house?
If you can answer “yes” to at least three of these questions, you must be a relative of mine. Hello, Cousin!