There are certain words that make me wince. In fact wince is one of them. It just sounds so, er ghastly (another one that I can’t stand the sound of). Followed closely by moist and yeasty (not even necessarily in conjunction) and irregardless which is a word that my husband uses and I am sure isn’t even real.
I am also not very partial to the words slacks and blouse and I absolutely hate it when people say space when they are talking about anything other than having air around them or the solar system. I don’t love the word sink and would replace it with basin every time even if it was not correct and I would never ever utter the word hankie, I would rather wipe my nose on my sleeve. Honestly.
Unlike a lot of people I don’t have a problem with the word panties (although I know a lot of you just dry retched just then) but it was the most common word we gave to female underwear in South Africa where I grew up, so it sounds natural and normal to me.
But there are a whole host of words that I can’t say in public, not because I can’t stand the sound of them, but because nobody other than my immediate family would know what I was talking about – like smoosh is ice cream that has been softened, and leeanza is lasagna and lawt is water. Long stories with rich histories that make the words sound perfectly normal around the family dinner table but quite insane to the bystander.
Johanna Gohmman wrote in a hilariously funny article in Salon recently:
When I was growing up, my family developed our own unique form of communication. This kind of makes sense, as we are the size of a small Sioux tribe — I have six brothers, one sister, and 13 nieces and nephews — and while our language may lack the majesty of the Sioux, it is nearly as voluminous. We call ice cream “beluga,” a remote control a “mocha” and bathing “souping.” Partly this can be attributed to my father, who loves wordplay, and will happily address anything or anyone with gibberish. He found his children’s early attempts at speech hilarious, and he held onto our garbled words, encouraging the mispronunciations.
However, there is little doubt that a big part of our family’s special language can be attributed to my parents’ minor Freudian hangups. They absolutely abhor “bathroom words.” They share such an intense aversion one wonders if this wasn’t what united them to begin with. I picture them meeting — my father, 6-foot-4, handsome, a golf enthusiast and virtuoso insurance salesman, approaching my mother, 5-foot-7, the former Miss Clark County.
“Would you like to have dinner sometime?” He’d wink. “And maybe later, we’ll have a baseball team’s worth of children?”
“Why I’d love to!” My mother would flash her blue eyes, discreetly adjusting her bouffant.
“Excellent.” My father smiles. “Oh, and by the way, I hate all words related to the excretory system. Maybe we can make our children hate them too?”
“Wonderful!” My mother beams.
It’s easy to imagine the scene. After all, my parents have been married over 40 years and still hold hands. And while they have many other things in common — a mutual love of iceberg lettuce and watching the television at ear-shattering levels, to name two — perhaps one of their greatest bonds is a disgust for those words that rhyme with shmart, shmoop and shmee.
Maybe my father was disgusted at his children’s names – what other reason would he have to refer to my sister as Frog Face and me as Lana Banana Cabana Beach Pie ?
Are there words that you simply hate the sound of and are there words that you or your family have replaced?