รดรด

What's Your Family Slang?

Pants are "ralls." Ficus trees are "Normans." What's your family slang, familect, or kitchen table lingo?

By
Mignon Fogarty
Episode #659
A family at their kitchen table.

 

In 2017, I asked people on Twitter what it's called when a family has words only they understand, and some people said it’s called family slang or kitchen table lingo, and a couple of people said it’s called a “familect” or “familiolect.” 

If a dialect is the language of people in a certain region or group, and an idiolect is one person’s way of speaking, then a familiolect is one family’s way of speaking. People shared their funny stories, for example, Caroline’s father calls the microwave “Chernobyl” and Norma’s family calls pants “ralls” because they are the bottom part of overalls

A familiolect is one family’s way of speaking.

Here's an example from my family: We call ficus trees Normans, and I bet nobody else does that. 

When my husband and I were students, we had only one car, so I rode my bike a lot. Well, one day, I was out on my bike and I decided to buy my husband a small potted ficus tree. I put it in my backpack, but it was so big the backpack wouldn't close, and then it started to rain, so by the time I got home, the tree and I were both a muddy mess. The night before, we had watched a movie called “City Slickers” in which Billy Crystal’s character delivers a calf named Norman in a muddy field or barn in a rainstorm, so when I pulled the muddy ficus tree out of my backpack and presented it to Pat, he said, “It’s Norman!” Ever since, when we see a ficus tree, we call it Norman.

When we see a ficus tree, we call it Norman.

I’d love to hear and share the stories behind your family’s kitchen table lingo. Share a story about a word you use in just your family by leaving me a voicemail at (833) 214-GIRL.

Mignon Fogarty is Grammar Girl and the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips. Check out her New York Times best-seller, “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

You May Also Like...

The Quick and Dirty Tips Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.