Loony lingo a secret code
HERE’S TO GLUBS, GINKLES AND EYE BLINDS
EVERY family has its own special language.
I don’t mean their mother tongue, or some sort of eccentric offshoot like elvish or Klingon to put down on their Census form.
It’s what I call familingo – the language of various made-up words that are specific to your family.
Invented and used over years of cohabitation, they’re mostly charming, nonsensical terms that mean everything to your people but nothing to outsiders.
For example, when I was growing up our family always called kitchen tongs “snitchers” and the food scraps bin was the “muck buck”.
The little fluffy balls that form on your old jumper were “rovvlies”; any kids playing too boisterously were “raunging”; and growing pains were “poorly legs” (“endy legs” in my hus- band’s family). They’re comforting little familial injokes that confirm a shared history. A secret code that says “we might be a bit barmy, but we’re blood”.
I can’t tell you exactly where or who our words came from but you can guess how they might have developed.
Indeed, asking around for examples from friends, it seems the origins of familingo fall into several broad categories.
First are the words that evolved from some little kid getting them wrong in the first place.
“Glubs” for gloves; “tingy” for singlet; “bums and noodles” for pins and needles; “ha-ha birdies” for kookaburras; “eye blinds” for a sleeping mask; “roundthe-backs” for roundabouts; “wipescreamers” for windscreen wipers; and my favourite, “ginkles” for stars (twinkle, twinkle).
Then there are words that substitute the names of things that you can’t remember the names of (a common affliction among parents, I find).
We call the spatula “the scrapy thing”, but my extensive research shows the remote control is the top example of this genre, giving us the “zapper”; the “trols”; the “modern thing”; the “doofer”; and – for the garage door – the “putterupperer”.
Most mysterious are the words that emerged from deep family history, descended through the generations, provenance usually unknown.
I’ve heard “snippies” for prawns; “tasties” for the last bits at the bottom of a chip packet or roast pan; “woojee” for the feeling you get climbing into a comfy bed; “oomy” for feeling unwell; “shoppy cakes’” for anything not homemade; “bondoon” is someone’s gran’s inexplicable word for a rear end; and “griff” meaning dirty – named after some filthy neighbours.
Finally there is the genre to beat them all: the many, many family words for farts.
When I asked around I was almost suffocated with cute, coy and comic examples. I’d list them all here, but sadly they fail to pass the sniff test.