Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stuff my Mom Say (or How to Invent Words)

Sometimes I make up words or have unconventional ways of saying real words.  Sometimes I use words my friends' kids make up.  The best though, is using words my mom made up. When it comes to making up words, there are a few basic principles you can follow to be a new-word-inventor in no time.

If word-inventing is new to you, start out by using abbrevs.  That is short for abbreviations.  As in, "I got the hungs.  Are you ready for dins?" This means, "I'm hungry.  Are you ready for dinner?"  The trick is to choose words words that do not make you sound like you are the kind of person that says, "OMG. This cupcake is totes delish."

Once you've mastered abbrevs, try doubling up words.  "You ready for dins? We're having spaghet spaghet."  Obviously the point of this is not actually to use fewer syllables since "spaghetti" is in fact easier to say than "spaghet spaghet."  It should be no surprise that "spaghet spaghet" is in fact something that has been said in my family with all seriousness.  Another double abbrev that I picked up from talking to kids has been "Chipoltz Chipoltz" to represent Chipotle, obviously.  I am also realizing my only examples at this point have been food related, so that's saying something.  I'm not sure what. Probably that it's easier to invent new words when in a hunger-induced haze.

The next step for inventing words is to find inspiration for new words.  My favorite source for new words is my mom, to whom English is a second language.  I actually think that most of the mistakes she makes are common even for native English speaker.  Thankfully, my mom knows that we find her quirks endearing, and that we actually are laughing with her because she's so quick to laugh at herself. 

Mom also tends to add "s" to the end of words that don't actually have them and subtract them from words that do.  For example, "Can I get you anything from Starbuck?" 

There are actually a few word that my sister and I have pronounced wrong our entire lives because it's how my mom pronounced them.  The thing you put in your mouth when you have a sore throat has always been a "lozenger" (with an "r" at the end) to me and my sister rather than a "lozenge."  I think my dad finally noticed and corrected us sometime after we'd both graduated college.

My mom knows that if I've asked her to repeat something for a third or fourth time, it is usually because I love hearing her pronunciation. 

Mom: "Should we have salmon or chicken for dinner?"  (while pronouncing the silent "L")
Me: "What?"
Mom: "Should we have salmon or chicken for dinner?"  (still pronouncing that "L")
Me: "What?"
Mom: "Should we have.. hold on..."
*Mom gives me a suspicious look.  We both laugh*

Another classic word that I've gotten from my mom has been a result of misspelling, what are admittedly confusing words.  Take the household bleach brand, Chlorox.  It appeared on my mom's grocery list one time as "chlox."  My dad saw her list, and it was all over from there. 

Now the final step in inventing words, is you just have to take that word and own it.  "Chlox" has been used in our family to mean many things including: 

As a nickname - "To: Chlox, From: Chlox" has appeared on Christmas gift name tags
As a substitute word - "I need to stop by Starchlox for some coffee"
As an interjection - "Oh chlox! I forgot my grocery list."
For whatever it sounds like - "We don't need that anymore.  Just chlox it."

That's the great part about making up a word.  It can take on whatever meaning you give it.

The downside of making up words is that Jason is already concerned that our potential future children won't properly learn English. He now no longer respond to words that aren't in the dictionary so I have to rephrase most things I say.  Something about developing good speaking habits now.  Additionally, if my sister or I were ever to homeschool her kids/ our future children, our husbands have banned us from teaching English.  Which is of course, ridic.

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