R.J. Anderson (rj_anderson) wrote,
R.J. Anderson
rj_anderson

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The Odd Legacy of Grandma Michell

Pollywog just asked me to put his favorite video game on the computer for him (due to his aforementioned love of bulls, that would be Extreme Pamplona, naturally). But he wanted to make sure the screen was maximized first: "Full-scream it, Mommy."

That bit of cuteness reminded me of how my kids still refer to "breakfast" as "brekstef" and talk about cutting paper with "snizzors", but it also made me think about the odd bits of vocabulary that have been handed down through my family over the last couple of generations -- words and sayings that we all take for granted, but which cause strangers to go "Huh?"

My maternal grandmother died before I was born, but by all accounts she was an affectionate, good-humored, and unapologetically quirky character. She was a Cornishwoman born and bred, and she passed down to her children and grandchildren not merely a patriotic love of Cornish pasties and Saffron Cake, but also an assortment of strange and wonderful sayings.

In my grandmother's household, minor acts of naughtiness among her children would be rebuked with phrases like, "Oh, you rotten rubber duck!" or if the incident were truly irritating (such as the cat getting into the milk), "You demon blackguard wretch!" On the other hand, someone who suffered a minor mishap or disappointment would be soothed with a pat on the shoulder and a softly intoned, "Nizzles." Or she might even say "Bless your screeds and gizzards." (I know what "gizzards" are, but what on earth are "screeds"?)

My grandmother also had the perfect description for the impulse that leads a finicky mother to clean off some smudge on her child's face by rubbing it with spit: she called it "clane base-tliness" (clean beastliness). And I can only blame my grandmother's influence for the poem I use when trying to remember the months of the year:

Thirty days hath Septober,
April, June, and no wonder.
All the rest have peanut butter,
Except for Grandma, and she rides a tricycle.


What about the rest of you? What unique words, phrases and/or sayings have been passed down in your family?
Tags: family, kids
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