Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Words and Phrases

(This is an old photo of me with two of my sisters)

My family has included, developed, and adapted a few words and phrases that I feel are unique and may sound weird and foreign (some are literally foreign) to outsiders. These are just the ones I can remember on my own, I am sure there are a few more!
  • KP duty: military speak: "kitchen patrol"
  • verboten: (German) "forbidden", don't do it
  • raus mit: (German) "out with [you]": get out/go away
  • pulled a grandpa: bought the right item but wrong type (like low fat instead of regular)
  • visit Mrs. Murphys chowder house: need to use the toilet. I was often curious about this phrase but my mom didn't know the origins and just said it because it was something her parents would say. Unfortunately, I found out and it is racist. Apparently a restaurant named "Mrs Murphys Chowder House" was one of the first non-segregated restaurants in the United States. So the phrase suggests that this restaurant is a toilet. So not great. Only my grandpa and my mom have said this phrase, none of my siblings picked it up. As I've gotten older I have come to the shameful realization that my depression born grandpa was actually pretty racist. Oy vey, I'm glad I didn't have to introduce him to my Japanese husband...
  • whatcha makin' ya stupid Jamaican?: What, another racist phrase? Please don't hate me! My older brother made this up one day, directed towards our mom. This is asked of the person who is cooking and you want to know what they are making. I know it's horrible, but it rhymes and it's unfortunately pretty catchy. My husband will say this to me sometimes when I am in the kitchen.
  • pickle in the middle: person sitting in the middle, usually in a car situation
  • grazing: constantly going in the kitchen to get snacks (usually said: Stop grazing! Dinner is almost ready)
So you can see there are definitely some World War 2 influences on my family. I am not proud of all the phrases, but they do make my family unique... Are there any words/phrases specific to your family or friends? I find all of this fascinating, that each family develops it's own language and culture within the home, and I try to figure out why things are said and where they came from. Not on a professional level of course, but it is something that I tend to notice. 

I went to a friends house for a BBQ once, and as she and her mom started eating the cupcakes I brought I noticed that they both started saying things like "Oh these are awful" and "I have to eat another one, that one wasn't right" or something to that effect. At first I was confused, because they delivered these lines with straight faces, but I figured out it was their joking way of eating sweets. Which on a certain level it's demonizing eating sweet things by rationalizing (making excuses for bad behavior), so I don't care for that, but it was interesting to notice.


  1. This was cool. A friend of mine has about 1000 kids and she has always used "verboten" for some reason when telling them they can't do something. I guess because the German sounds so harsh. "No, it's verboten!" sounds scarier and more intense than "No, you can't."

    Also, a thing with some of my friends and me is that when we steal each other's food, we say it was poisoned - like, one will steal a french fry from another and say "I just saved you; that one was poisoned." But everything is poisoned, especially chocolate.

    1. German does seem more aggressive and suited for "scolding" :)

      I like saying that things are poisoned! That's funny :) I like tongue in cheek teasing. When I eat my husbands food, I just tell him it tastes better than mine (even if it's the same thing), but maybe now I will go the poison route. I'm doing him a favor!