Slice of Life – Tuesday – family language

Words or phrases we grow up with are very interesting. Each family has their own references to people, places or events. It is like the air we breathe – it is all around us and we don’t really pay attention to it.  We don’t realize that others don’t have a clue what we are taking about.

Some of our phrase are related to the area we live in. These descriptors fall into our language without our thinking about it.  I often use the phrase “down the road” – that works well if you live on a country road but I live in a big city with streets and I never lived in the country although my Grandparents did.

We have a variety of names for our parents or grandparents. They might be mom,  mother, pop, dad, papa, grandpa, grandma, nana, – the list goes on. Each family has a culture that helps to develop this language.

Do you have a yard or a garden? Do you walk by the creek or a stream?

There are the phrases like “shape up or ship out”, “Like it of Lump it”, “Don’t burn your bridges before you come to them”.

I am guess there are thousands of these – I don’t know where most of them came from but I grew up listening to many of them. I know I have used some with my children. I am curious what phrase they laugh at that I still use.

There are names for parts of the house – my family farm had two areas that were called the Summer kitchen. Now I get a summer kitchen is/was a kitchen outside a bit aways from the house. It was a place that was cooler to cook in the heat of the summer. Often found in southern farm homes. But my family lived in Iowa – not extremely hot and very cold in the winter. There were two places called the summer kitchen in this farm house. One a small attic room off a second floor bedroom. No way were you going to cook in this hot small attic. The other was a shed just off the kitchen and it might have been a place you could cook but again it was small, not much for windows and a small door. It is hot as hell in that shed in the summer.  Who would be cooking in there?  Why do we call these places the summer kitchen?

So now I am left wondering where do this phrases come from, who started them – are they connected to a community or to a family culture. I am on the hunt to find out where some of our family phrases have come from and what or where was the real summer kitchen.

Do you have a family language? Are there phrases you use that make people look at you a bit odd and wonder what you are referring to?  Please share!

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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6 Responses to Slice of Life – Tuesday – family language

  1. cvarsalona says:

    Joanne, when I went to college in Boston my friends called soda, pop. They had other names for objects that I did not know what they were talking about. It’s fun to hear regional words. Summer kitchen is a new one to me. We only had one kitchen. Thanks for sharing today. What is your Twitter handle (if you have one.)?

  2. I have no idea why, but my mother always called green bell peppers – mangoes. I am sure there are others, but that is the one that came to my mind.

  3. cvarsalona says:

    I found you and followed.

  4. Adrienne says:

    I grew up in Canada. I had to learn some new vocabulary when I moved to the US. The hardest new vocab for me has been using “gutters” in place of “eaves trough”. In my heart they will always be eaves troughs.

  5. mukhamani says:

    We use this phrase in my language, Kannada, when someone irritates us. It literally means ‘ don’t eat my head ‘. :))

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