It’s no secret that I love language, vocabulary, euphemisms, colloquialisms, etc. What I love most is the “language” that develops within families or amongst friends. My maternal grandmother was always “old” to me. She was 70 years older than I and riddled with arthritis so I always remember her sitting. Because she was born in 1888 and reared in New Haven, she had an old-fashioned quality to her speech. My grandmother used to announce she had to make a call and then disappear into the bathroom. As a child of the 20th century, I assumed she needed to use the telephone and was confused because we had no phone in the bathroom. Welcome to the world of euphemisms.
About five years ago, I was at school explaining to my students that I would be absent the remaining four days of the week because my father passed. One student asked, “He must be old. What kind of test did he take?” Another savvier student replied, “She means he died.” Yup. That about summed it up. This generation of kids doesn’t understand the need for euphemisms.
On to peculiar vocabulary that is meaningful to a few and has no recognizable derivation…. I often crack myself up. Does that happen to you? Be thankful, it’s a blessing. Anyway, in my new residence I have a stackable washer/dryer. It gets the clothes clean but I have to do laundry frequently because the load size is smaller. In my head I reminded myself, “put that laudy in before you forget.” That rendered a chuckle. Then the voice in my head said, ” And it’s Wedsay. How appropriate to be doing laudy on Wedsay.” Those words, among a few others, harken to our new Internet world where people post their thoughts without concern to spelling, grammar, etc. I confess to creating new words while texting due to auto-correct, but I try to use our language correctly.
Friends of mine visited recently to see my new digs. We dissolved into laughter frequently and I realized a person outside of our circle would have been lost in our conversation. We have several terms and phrases unique to us but I will give them full credit for coining them. I think my favorite is the word “Laguardia.” Most people would assume we were talking about the airport of the former mayor of NYC. No way. Here is the correct usage. “Do you remember lugging Laguardia around whenever company was coming?” Laguardia was the shop vac that my friends had to use to vacuum their home. It was loud, just like standing outside at, you know, an airport. On the occasion one of us experienced intestinal distress that may have included gas, bloating, and/or flatulence, it was referred to as a viral attack. As in, “Betty it’s not nice to make fun of me because I’m having a viral attack.” The end result of a viral attack is X-105. This requires making a call and the liberal use of Lysol.
Chime in and let me know of any of your strange vocabulary, euphemisms and phrases. I’d love to know! But if you’re shy, don’t worry your gut eyeball about it. In the meantime I must shift the laudy to the dryer before I make a call.