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The topic for the 54th Edition of Carnival of Genealogy is “Family Language”.  Does your family use words and phrases that no one else knows or understands? Where did they come from? Did you ever try to explain your “family language” to outsiders? Tell a story about your family-coined words, phrases, or nicknames.

 

 

I’ve been struggling with this topic because nothing jumped out at me.  Then I realized I “lived” my family’s language!

 

My mother had the normal “mom-isms” when I was growing up:

  • Were you born in a barn?
  • If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?
  • You’ll see yourself coming and going (this was in response to asking if I could just have clothes bought from a store instead of hand-sewn)
  • Whose glass is this? (in response to seeing a half-empty glass sitting somewhere – a glass that someone is still using!)
  • My skin’s crawlin’ (describing nerves)
  • I forbid . . . (usually something I wanted to do or someone I wanted to be friends with)
  • I have eyes in the back of my head. (this even worked when I said it to my niece and nephew!)
  • Like a bull in a china shop. (Referring to me because I run into things, am clumsy, break things and knock things over.)
  • Did you comb your hair?  (Always said to me because with naturally curly, baby fine hair my hair is always a mess!  Most of the time I wanted to reply, “No, I can’t comb it because I can’t get a comb through it.”
  • Do you think money grows on trees?  Not a good thing to say to a 6 year old who witnessed my grandparents receiving for their 50th anniversary a “money tree”.
  • Get back from the TV, it’ll ruin your eyesight. (Actually I think it’s hereditary!)
  • Carrots are good for your eyes. (Oh yeah, you don’t like them either!)
  • I hope you have children JUST like you.  (Well, guess what? I did. Happy now?)
  • You’re so hateful!  (Usually when I’d misbehave, talk back or yell at my niece and nephew)
  • There’s kids starving in China (ok, send this stuff to them!)
  • What would (neighbors, relatives, or the normal “everyone”) think? (I really don’t care!)

Then there are the unusual ways she puts things. 

  • That’s a bunch of hooey!  Her definition: that’s a load of crap, a bunch of marlarkey, that’s a lie.  (Dictionary.com lists this as an interjection. 1. used to express disapproval or disbelief; 2. silly or worthless talk, writing, ideas, etc.; nonsense; bunk.
  •  She looks tough.  Warning: this does not mean she’s a police officer, body builder, member of the armed forces or a strong woman.  Definition: Girl or woman who looks street-wise, a young girl trying to look older for the wrong reasons, “loose” or easy.  Usually said when someone is wearing way too much make-up, or heavy duty eye shadow or eye liner, too bleached hair that looks unnatural, clothes that are too short or immodest.   Also describes a regular woman or teen-ager who has a mouth like a sewer, and is spouting off loudly in public.
  • Pretty Soup Red (this is what she called tomato soup when my sister was young because even though she likes tomatoes, she didn’t like tomato soup. We still call it Pretty Soup Red today!)
  • We’re having stuffed “mangoes”!  (Boy, doesn’t that sound appetizing?  In actuality, it was stuffed peppers.  For as long as I can remember, Mom has always called peppers – mangoes.  I didn’t even know what a real mango looked like until I was an adult  And yes, I’ve eated mango – just not stuffed!  I’d prefer green bell peppers!)

Since Mom spent several years in Japan, she’d also use Japanese sayings:

  • Dōmo arigatō – thank you
  • Gomen-nasai – I’m sorry

In my present life (husband, 4 kids, 3 grandsons) most of our expressions stem from an incident that will be remembered forever just by the terms we use.

 

Upon smelling someone grilling, we’ll ask: “Should we call it in?”  This is because a neighbor did just that – call the fire dept. one day when we all smelled barbecue. Turns out – he was right.  Another neighbor left their coffee maker on when they left on vacation and it burned into their attic.

 

“Dive Bombing Birds” – the grackles (big ugly black birds) in North Texas just don’t like me.  During a garage sale I was having over 10 years ago, I was talking to the birds on the roof, when one of them swooped down and dive bombed me!

 

“Suicide Walls” – if you’ve ever driven in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area – then I don’t need to explain this.  But if you haven’t, be forewarned that driving on some of the highways you’ll come across high concrete walls on both sides of the roadway.  No where to move if you have to – therefore, it’s like taking your life in your hands.

 

Tommy-toes: a term we call tomatoes made up by my son.

 

Then there are the “Texas” terms that have crept into this native Buckeye’s slang:

  • I’m fixin’ to . . . (going to do something)
  • Y’all (I don’t really have to explain, do I?)

And of course, we must not forget the way we (mis)pronounce stuff due to our Midwestern speech inflections.

Mom’s: Huh-woi-ya (Hawaii), Figger (figure), pronouncing the double “o” in words like Cooper the same as in look, the last syllable of motorcycle is like icicle, pilla for pillow.

I still have trouble with Wash or Washing or Washington.  I pronounce it like woish or warsh.  I also say cooshun for cushion.  My sister & niece spell the word small: s-m-all!

 

Children’s terms: When I was 3-4 years old, I called a tissue, a “Boo”.  I’m not sure why but perhaps because we’d play “peek-a-boo” with tissues.  My oldest daughter used to put her hand on her hip and say “bop” when she had to potty – this was just as we started training her.  To this day I can still see that image of her saying that, and I laugh out loud.  It was priceless!

 

And that’s not a bunch of hooey either!

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