One morning, I overheard the news anchors talking about words families use that nobody else uses in that way. They described it as their familiolect rather than dialect. I listened as they shared that they say they are having “experiments” for dinner rather than asparagus and one anchor said every time her daughter needs a diaper change they call it “the big message.”
While I only heard part of the story, I found it humorous and intriguing. I decided to dig a little deeper to see where the story had come from. Apparently, a doctoral student by the name of Iva Cheung started this conversation on Twitter in mid-January. She posed the question: “What words, expressions, or pronunciations are unique to your familiolect? Tweet with your favorites!”
Some of the responses were pretty funny as one woman described that she was unable to pronounce sausage when she was younger so she said, “hostages.” They still say they are having “hostages” for dinner! Another person said they call pizza crust, “the bones.”
Obviously, this whole conversation got me thinking about our own familiolect. I immediately thought of the fact that we have always called pony tail holders, wiggy tail holders. I don’t know why. It seems more difficult than pony, but to this day my mom still uses that term. It didn’t stick with my own girls probably because it made no sense to them. We also used the term, hair setter as opposed to hot rollers. I had no idea they were called hot rollers until my friends started looking at me strangely and had no idea what I was referring to when I asked to borrow their hair setter.
There are also the obvious names, Lowi & G, which were given to us by our nieces who were unable to say our names correctly. They have definitely stuck and some of our closest friends call us by these names. We also throw around the word “high” a little differently in our house given we have two daughters with Type 1 Diabetes among us. We definitely have experienced some strange looks when describing our daughter as being “high” all day. One of my favorite expressions though, is the idea of plugging in. When our middle daughter was young she thought hugs seemed more like plugging in. She used to just put her arms straight out and say, “let’s plug in.” She rolls her eyes and tells us to stop when we do it to her today, but we could all use a little more of that kind of “plugged in.”
I was talking about this story and the expressions we use in our family with my older girls. They started laughing because they had just had a recent encounter with the boyfriend regarding this very issue. Apparently, he overheard them discussing the topic of snoring. For years, the girls thought the sound of someone snoring sounded like someone saying, “honk shoe.” Whenever they imitated someone snoring they would say, “honk shoe, honk shoe” in an overly exaggerated tone. We always laughed about it, but it stuck. I don’t think the boyfriend or anyone else gets it, but that’s the point; everyone has their very own familiolect and it usually makes no sense to the rest of the world.
What words, expressions or pronunciations are part of your familiolect?
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G