Friday, July 22, 2011

Word Play

Messing around with the language is a family game. Sometimes the origin of word play is infantile, as it was when my daughter couldn’t manage the “y” sound. Instead of yogurt, she said logurt. Instead of you, she said lou. She didn’t have the same problem with yours. That’s because everything was “mines.”

Leah. (Still an occasional substitute for an affirmative answer.) I just tossed out a family joke.

I’m envious of the new words that earn enough popular use to earn a place in the Urban Dictionary, like carmageddon, or even become the vaunted American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year, like app.

New words happen all the time. We’re still creating words at home, though we’re beyond baby talk.

In our circa-1894 cottage, vegetable scraps go into the composting bin, but if we happen to drop something edible on the floor, we call on the disposdog to take care of it.

Thanks to my sister, I now know to call unidentified wildflowers glimpsed from the car window by their Latin name: roadsidia. The usage was chronicled in 2008 by Beverley George of New South Wales, Australia, in a literary blog, Haibun Today.

And we have to thank our friend Brian for sharing the euphemism barleypop, an entry that has met the Urban Dictionary standard. It's a far better substitute term for beer than another friend's original, “dad’s juice,” which caused a moment of extreme chagrin in the grocery store when her son learned to point and ask for items on the shelf.

What about your family? Do you have special words you’d like to add to the lexicon?

6 comments:

Heather said...

Most of my family-created words are not appropriate for polite company, but of the few that can be uttered without sending an FCC censor into anaphylactic shock is "lupper." We are really bad about eating lunch so late, that it is normally our last meal of the day

Chris Bailey said...

Ha! My husband is an excellent time manager, so this never happens to US--but when I'm home alone, I rarely eat more than twice a day. Sometimes only once. And by the time I recognize hunger for what it is, I may eat continuously for a couple of hours.

Carla Swafford said...

Not only did I stutter when I was a kid, I had a lisp and I had problems saying certain words. Three was Free. Or I used words backwards you could say. Like Grill-it for skillet. A mosquito bite scratched instead of itched.

I still mispronounce words, but it doesn't stop me from speaking publicly. It's a little quirk I've come to terms with. At least I no longer stutter (except when I get mad and that's rare).

Lexi said...

In my family, we have the commote contrail (remote control), yogrette instead of yogurt, ecklecise, instead of exercise, and, my favorite, muh-woe-shee-wah for MURDER SHE WROTE.

Chris Bailey said...

Carla--I'd almost forgotten the backward words! We sometimes still say beltseat.

Chris Bailey said...

Lexi, that's too funny! An entire title in family-speak! You went a long way for commote contrail. We've reverted to plain remote, after years of "TV Guide changer."