Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Family Language

Neil Gaiman totally started this, but he doesn't know it. I was reading his journal a few days ago and saw him pictured in his beekeeping outfit with a person he called "Birdchick." He's also got a Web Elf. I was thinking, how cute - being a writer, he's so creative that he renames everyone he knows with an imaginative nickname. My train of thought continued . . . . It dawned on me that we have loads of nicknames for our kids, along with all sorts of verbal oddities that the outside world would not get. In short, we have a family language, which has been created over the years we have shared rubbing shoulders in the same household. We have inside jokes based on our shared experiences, and movie scenes we regularly quote (i.e. "Let me fix you some eggs, Margie" from Fargo, or "Is that the machine that goes ping?" from The Meaning of Life). I pondered our family language for more examples:

The hubby loves to purposely mispronounce words. He says "red-eye" for "ready" when we are trying to leave the house. He says "cha (say the "ch" as you would in church)-mo (long "o")-mi (short "i")-lee" for chamomile. He does this with lots of other words, as well.

Some of the nicknames we have for our kids: Doodle, Dude, Daughter, Man About Town (or Boy About School), Young Son #1, Young Son #2, Bubby, and Buddy. Those are just the nicknames not based upon their names, but in the sake of privacy for them, I won't be revealing the name-based ones here. We each also have an opposite-sex name for the fun of it.

Young Son #2 calls me Mammy and his father Pappy. He does it with a twang, too. The daughter calls me Bob, which is how Mom comes out when she has a cold. (That's my opposite-sex name.)

The hubby calls me Lovin' Spouseful or wifey; to the latter I reply with husbandy. Of course, we're also full of the Honey, Baby, Sugarcakes, Sweetie names, too. Sometimes, hubby says, "Submit to me, woman!" in a joking manner and I give him a withering look and sometimes an "eff-you" with a smile. He says, "Okay."

When someones says, "Hey, I quacked!" we all know exactly what that means. This was something started in the extended family. Whenever someone has to get up from their chair and wants their seat saved for when they return, they say, "Quack, quack, seat back!" which has shortened to "Quack!"

We go really crazy over our kitties with the special family language. Rosalyn, the gray old kitty, is called Roz, Grumpy Old Lady, Cranky Old Lady, or simply Old Lady. Inky, who is white with black spots (and would have been called Rorscharch after the ink-blot tests if hubby had had his way) is called Rotten Spotty. It's a name my brother coined. Our white kitty was originally called Snowball, then Schmutz, and now goes primarily by Stinky. She is the sweetest cat ever, and we call her that often, too - "The Sweetest Cat Ever." Roz likes to meow at us in a grumpy way and I meow right back. Stinky says "brrrt, brrrt" to us and we "brrrt, brrrt" back. I like to call the kitties my puppies or babies. When we want the kitties to come running, we don't say, "Here, kitty kitty kitty." We make a pss, pss, pss noise. When the kitties start acting crazy and running all over the house (especially Stinky), we say they have brain worm.

Okay, you probably get the picture. Family language: it's worth a college thesis. If you're so inclined, feel free to share an example of your own.

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