Family Language Blog Post - Money Dollars

My Family’s Secret Language

Family Language Blog Post - Playing Cards

The Conk

When I was growing up, in our family, the third game or round we played to work out the overall winner – if for example I won one and my sister one the other – was called ‘The Conk’.

Yes, ‘The Conk’.

I guess it is some shortened form of conqueror but I don’t really know and I am sure if I asked, no one in the family would know either. It was normal thing to say ‘lets play The Conk to decide the winner’.

Unfortunately I had no idea that this phrase was unique to my family’s lexicon and not widely known. After a couple of fierce lunchtime games of 500 with high school friends, suggesting ‘we play The Conk’ was met with lots of serious mocking and laughter.

Teenage humiliation now far behind me, I really like how we had made up words and used them naturally between us. We have even started to do this in my little family with some of the mispronunciations and cute ‘kid-made’ words that Dylan has said.


Correct Pronunciation

Like any young child, Dylan often gets words and phrases wrong and not all of these have ended up as part the natural language of our family. Sometimes we make an effort to correct his speech.

So, par-cark has been changed around to car park and bake-cano has slowly been corrected to volcano. I thought it important to teach him not to say ‘eel’ instead of ‘seal’. We are still working on putting an ‘n’ at the start of ninja.


Cute but Short-lived

Some of Dylan’s interpretations on words and phrases are too cute and we have repeated them back to him and even used them ourselves sometimes. But over time, they have corrected without much help from us. Cute but short-lived words and phrases uttered by Dylan include:

  • ‘parrot shute’ instead of parachute
  • washing lion for washing line
  • eye growl for eye brow
  • swimming gobbles for swimming goggles
  • flag instead of tag (the label inside a t-shirt)
  • machos for nachos
  • chicken pops for chicken pox

My four and half year old boy can now clearly tell me that he loves me, and that is exceptionally nice to hear. It is just not as cute as the first couple of times when Dylan said “I Bove You Mummy”.


Our Family’s (Now Not-So) Secret Language

Some of the things Dylan says have stuck. We have embraced them as a family and now say them as well. Why do we have to use the proper word when Dylan’s altered ones are so much better? I like how we have started our own family traditions. I can not only pass down ‘The Conk’ to my children, but they can pass a unique lexicon onto theirs – a kind of inter-generational secret family language.

So in our home if we play pretend shops and want to buy something, we use our ‘money-dollars’. When we hear an insect buzzing around, it is probably a ‘shoo-fly’. And when there is a loud noise, Dylan goes off to find his ‘ear-mupps’ to wear over his ears.

A few times when either my husband or I were going out, Dylan would ask us in a slightly worried tone ‘but who is going to keep me?’ It took us a while to realise that he was asking who was going to stay at home with him or look after him.

I now think this is a lovely turn of phrase and sums up what he asking perfectly. Well Dylan, who is going to ‘keep’ you? My darling, gorgeous boy, I will always ‘keep’ you.

I would love to hear your ‘kid-made’ words that have made it into your family’s secret language or unique lexicon. Post them in the comments below.

Family Language Blog Post - Money Dollars


2 thoughts on “My Family’s Secret Language

  1. Hi luv.. I can’t get to sleep so after reading I thought I would add a few things my Dad would say when I was growing up. When I was clumsy or tripped over dad would ask me ‘how many blue beans make 5?’ Well it took me years to figure the answer out! How to mess with a child’s mind. Another one was ‘please go by shanks pony and get the milk and bread’. This meant ‘please walk to the dairy’. And one more… if Dad felt someone was talking lots he would say, ‘well they can talk the hind legs off a donkey can’t they?’ I found myself saying this at work just last week and a young guy mid-twenties sitting behind me cracked up laughing and said ‘Trish, that’s hilarious’.

  2. hi Mum,
    Those are great stories. I am not sure if I like the thought that you read my blog to try and get to sleep but oh well 🙂

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