Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Local Language

We've all had the "pop vs. soda" and "car-a-mel vs. car-mel" debates (hopefully bringing up such controversial topics will not result in a tremendous flame war in the comments section of this post). Americans are fiercely devoted to their geographic idiosyncrasies. Soon consuming the same media and moving around will homogenize our accents and we’ll all sound the same. I grew up in California where everyone already has the generic TV non-accent. I thought I’d never have the pleasure of sounding different, however, it turns out that many of the words and phrases that I grew up with were geographically specific (often the geography was so specific as to be restricted to the confines of my parent’s house). All communities, cliques and families speak their own language and there are few things more revealing about a group of people than their words. When we invent language we capture ideas not previously deemed important enough to warrant their own word. These are the concepts that my family and childhood friends saw fit to name.

Fish Bite: term used to describe when a person's underwear rides up into the crack of their butt. The term is essentially a synonym for "wedgie" you can "have a fish bite" or, if you are a bully, "give someone a fish bite." According to my friend Elizabeth you can also shorten the term to "fish." A fish bite can only be rectified by "going fishing" for your underwear

Fishmas Eve: The evening of the last Friday in April (the last Saturday in April being Fishmas itself). This holiday celebrates the opening of fishing season traditions include: digging for worms, making sandwiches to take out on the boat and singing Fishmas carols like "Velveeta Catches Fishies" which is sung to the tune of "Hello Mudda, Hello Faddah" or (as I identified the tune in grade 3) "Velveeta vs. Cheddar." (if only I could remember the words…) I think my dad invented this holiday, he certainly wrote the lyrics to the carols.

Poop on a Stick: What my father claimed we were having for dinner on 250/365 nights each year (on the other 115 nights "grasshopper pie" would be served.).

Underdutchies: underwear for the under five crowd. Another Horst Klemm original (thanks Dad!).

Wish on a Hay Truck: When a hay truck passes your car on the highway you make a wish, the wish will only come true if you never look at the hay truck again. This usually requires that the wisher not look behind the vehicle for about 3 minutes. When the wisher is also the driver the lives of all passengers are put at risk, it is possible that the wishes of most teenaged drivers are not worth risking death but it's also possible that life would not be living if Rick did not try to kiss me (never happened, surprised I survived the extremely dry spell that was high school). All normal wishing rules also apply (no telling other people your wish, no wishing for more wishes, etc).


amy said...

this reminded me- I was going to send you this link: http://accent.gmu.edu/browse_atlas.php

themikestand said...

This is an awesome post. I'm going to try my damndest to link to it. Expect up to 5 extra hits because of this fact.

You've been warned.

Anonymous said...

"I grew up in California where everyone already has the generic TV non-accent."

Everyone thinks they have no accent

You have some sort of accent yourself... what with the raising of the voice at the end of the sentence and all..

And let's not forget Moon Unit Zappa and her "Valley Girls"

And crazy california surfer dudes...

Anonymous said...

though poop on a stick made me laugh coffee out my nose...

Tell Horst that Old Joe said hi!