Friday, June 13, 2008

MY Lexicon -- Part Two

And now for Part Two of my lexicon
Random words and phrases not derived from Italian:

Again, in no particular order:

1. Bim: I've asked my mom where this is from and she has no idea. It's not derived from Italian; as least, I don't think it is. But this is a word that was said regularly in my household and now Todd has adopted it into his lexicon as well.
n. a Fart v. to fart. Example:
Todd: might want to leave the room for a few minutes.
Me: What? Why? Oh...NO. Did you do a bim?
lso: bimming, and bimmelations (very bad gas.)

2. Scrook: My grandmother would say this all the time. Something I realized about people from Philly: they are short on patience; they want to say and do things as fast as possible. This one word expresses an action that could take a whole sentence to describe.
v. to place something carelessly, or at the last minute, or both. Examples:
At the eleventh-hour, uncle Joe said he was coming to the wedding. We'll just have to scrook him at table 9.
past tense: I had no idea where to put the ficus tree she gave me. So, I just scrooked it in a corner somewhere.

3. Tanked up: I guarantee you, it's not what you think it is. You're probably thinking it has something to do with being drunk. Not at all. It's a great phrase and I think you might find yourself using it in the future! This phrase is, I think, unique to my family.
v. to be detained, or overwhelmed by a person, usually by having them talk your ear off. Example:
Sorry I am so late! I would have been here sooner, but I got tanked up on the phone by aunt Mary!

4. Tindle: One of the greatest words ever. EVER. Again, only in my family lexicon.
v. to man-handle, pick over, fondle, touch repeatedly. Example:
Todd: Oh look! They finally have that book that you wanted.
Me: Sweet.
Todd: Yeah, and it's the last copy.
Me: Oh...really? I don't want it, then. It's been all tindled.

5. Scrab: This is a rather interesting word. It was used regularly in my household.
n. any person, place, thing, situation in which you do not want to reveal the actual identity or truth. A secret. Scrabbelate v. to hide, place out of sight, or discontinue speaking about, keep secret. Example:

Mom: Did you get that scrab for Gina's party?
Grandmom: Yeah. I'll just scrabbelate it upstairs for now.
Mom: Good idea.

6. Geh head:
South Philadelphians slur their words into a jumbled-up mess of monosyllabic nonsense. But somehow, we all understand it. This is the truncated version of, "go ahead." It can be used several ways. You can use it sort of the way you'd use "roll up!" Or use it literally as "go ahead" to let someone go ahead of you. Or even use it as "continue." Interestingly enough, one would really only use this in conversation with another person. Here are some examples:
as "roll-up"
Todd: What should I eat for lunch?
Me: I don't know. What are you in the mood for?
Todd: You know, I think I really want to roll-up with some Chinese.
Me: Geh head!

as "go ahead"
This poor, old lady has been waiting here forever. "Ma'am? Geh head and get in front of me, I can wait."

as "continue"
Todd: So, this guy at the store said that he just got a new cat and---
Me: Oh! That reminds me, we need to buy more dry cat food. Sorry, I interrupted you. Geh head, finish.

7. PU:
(pronounced like the 2 letters: pee-you. Never pronounced poo or pew). I'm not sure how common this might be among other people. My family used it all the time, everyday. I have noticed it used in old Bugs Bunny cartoons!
This is basically an exclamation of frustration and/or disappointment. Sort of like saying "That sucks," or "big deal," or "who cares." Example:
I won first prize in a poetry contest and the prize turned out to be a lame t-shirt. PU.

8. Teh
or Tay-Ah or A-Ah (the "A" pronounced like the a in "pay"): This is more South Philly sludge. These all can mean any of the following things, all of which involve the act of handing over something to someone:
"Here." (Teh). "Here you are," or "Here you go," or even "Here it is" (Tay-Ah or A-Ah). Example:
Todd: Where is my eyeglasses case?
Me: I don't know.
Todd: Help me look for it?
Me: Ok ...[rummage around and find it]. Todd, a-ah.

9. It's a sin (and a shame):
This phrase is actually more endearing than it would seem. On one level, it's a direct replacement for "That's a shame," when you feel badly about something. But also we used it as a little declaration of endearment. Almost as if to say "Oh, how sweet," or "Isn't that cute?" Example:
Todd: Have you noticed where Fi-Fi is?
Me: No, where?
Todd: She's in her bed making biscuits.
Me: Aww. It's a sin.

Now, if you add "and a shame" to the phrase, you change the meaning to "it's unforgivable," or "it's a disgrace." Example:
Have you seen that old historic church lately? It's a sin and a shame all that graffiti on there.

10. Act right:
Uttered by every South Philly mom ever. And for full effect, you should pronounce act as "ack." Remember how I said South Philadelphians were not the most patient people around? Yeah. Well these two words are the ultimate reprimand to give to a child without wasting a lot of time doing it. Example:
Picture a child of about 9 with his mother in a crowded shopping mall. He's being obnoxious, whiny, and disruptive. His mother, at the height of exacerbation, just leans over to him and within an inch of his face she says gravely, "Act right."

11. Hen:
No, not a bird that lays eggs. Basically a substitute for the interrogative "What?"
Todd: [from the basement] Hey, G? Did you batyo a nwt tac fuss rolbth at the store yesterday?
Me: Hen?!

12. Larrigan:
This I know for sure is a man's last name. It was my grandmother or my great-grandmother that institutionalized the term "Larrigan" in our family. What does it mean? Well, it's been used as an expression of distaste, disapproval, and disappointment. It is always used as a stand-alone word. Who was this Mr. Larrigan? Again, not sure. He could have been a milkman, a fruit man, a Fuller Brush man, gas man, electric man, etc. But, apparently, he pissed off my grandmom or great-grandmom somehow to have his name immortalized forever as a routine negative exclamation in our household! Here's an example:
Mom: So I heard that cousin Elizabeth bought a new house in the suburbs. It has a lawn and a sun-room in the back with all windows on three sides.
Grandmom: Yeah, but then somebody's got to cut that lawn and clean those windows. Larrigan. They can keep it.

note:Yeah, my grandmom was kinda negative about a lot of things. But she did only go as far as the 6th grade (because she was the oldest girl and had to take care of her siblings); and she did nearly die twice in her teens from 2 unrelated illnesses (appendicitis, and a dental issue); and she buried younger siblings---babies who died, even; she she did survive the Depression, and she did have 3 miscarriages. A lot of trauma for one person, don't you think? But she loved us more than life itself. So, it never bothered me that she tended to see the glass as half-empty most of the time.

13. Making buttons (all colors):
Another grandmom-ism. I can't imagine where this got started. It's possible that it had something to do with her father, who was a tailor. But I can't be sure. It means: to be angry, fuming, impatient, frustrated. The addition of "all colors" intensifies those feelings. Example:
Todd: Why are you so late?
Me: Oh the line at the post office was insane. It looked like Calcutta in there.
Todd: Wow really?
Me: Yeah and you should have seen the guy in front of me. He was making buttons, all colors because the lady in front of him had about 17 packages to mail overseas.

14. Not for nothin', but:
Leave it to South Philadelphians to make terribly improper grammar seems like it's perfect. This is a commonly uttered phrase by us cynical, irritable people from South Philly. It's said usually as a segue to a statement of rationalization, (or sometimes immediately following for dramatic effect). I think a close equivalent would be "I don't mean to make an issue out of it, but" or "Not to sound rude, but" or "Not to seem ungrateful, but." Here are a couple examples:
Not for nothin', but I think I deserved that promotion instead of that asshole.
Not for nothin', but with all the money I spend at, I should get free shipping when I order from now on.

15. Louder that:
SO South Philly, it hurts. It means "to increase the volume" of something, like a TV or a radio. It is the direct counterpart to "lower that." I actually do not say this very often. Example:

Todd: Do you want me to put the TV on for you?
Me: Yeah, is Spongebob on?
Todd: Yes, here he is.
Me: Good. Louder that before you sit down.

16. Sweating bullets:
Probably pretty obvious. To sweat profusely. Example:
Turn that a/c on, I'm sweating bullets in here!

17. How cheap!:
I've heard other people from South Philly say this. It's not in reference to the price of anything. A close substitute would be "How embarrassing" or "How disgraceful" or "That's shameful." Example:
Grandmom: Guess who I saw today at the store with his secret mistress?
Mom: Oh no! You're not serious?
Grandmom: Yeah, and they were all over each other, too.
Mom: Oh, how cheap! In public, too!

18. Can:
This has been the standard was of saying "butt" in my family as long as I can remember. Example:
Go upstairs and clean your room! You've been sitting on your can all morning watching cartoons!

19. Pack your chiches
(pronounced chih-chizz): Here's another phrase that is entirely unique to my family. To this day, I don't know what "chiches" are or why it would be bad to "pack" them. Anyway, this phrase is a funny way to mildly threaten someone. Have you ever heard Jerry Seinfeld's "Cookie? I'll cookie you!" stand-up? It's very similar to that. Also, I think the "send you packing" phrase might be a close facsimile.
Mom: I think I am going to try some of the jarred pasta sauce. I mean, how bad can it be?
Grandmom: If you even try to serve me cavatelli with sauce from a jar, I'll pack your chiches.

20. Cat rocks:
This is a more-recent introduction into my family lexicon. In fact, I think my sister, Helene, got this thing started. Cat rocks = kitty litter. Period. It just sounds funnier and it's 2 fewer syllables. A dream come true for anyone native to South Philly. Example:
Let's go to the pet store. We need canned food, cat rocks, and a new scooper.

21. Yitika: (pronounced yih-t-KAH) I'm not entirely convinced that this isn't from some Italian dialect. But anyway, I grew up with yitika meaning "jump, tremble, shake," as in when you scare or surprise someone. Example:
Me: GAH. What are you doing down here in the dark?
Todd: I have a headache and it's cooler down here than upstairs.
Me: You made me yitika; I didn't expect to see you down here.

22. Asking for: I think this might be somewhat common in South Philly. Once again, it's the simplest, shortest way possible of expressing concern for a person who is not in present company. Does that make sense? It's a little bit stronger than saying, "tell so-and-so I said hi." It's more like saying you are, "wondering how a person was doing." Maybe the examples will help:
Todd: I need to call cousin Eric tonight.
Me: Ok, tell him I was asking for him.

Mom: I saw uncle Mike the other day!
Grandmom: Oh, really? How's he doing?
Mom: He's fine. He was asking for you.

The first few times I said this to Todd or in his presence he was like "Wait, what?" But now even he says it.

23. Jafar:
Ok. This is quite a long story. About 15 years ago, (the early 1990s) when I was still living at home, my family had a cat. Yes, A cat. Just one. He was a black & white tuxedo cat. Very smart. My dad got him from some guy where he worked. The cat's name was Ippon, which we did not give him. We were told by his previous owner that the name means "number one" (or something close to that) in Korean. Not sure how true that is. He got that name because he responded every time the referee would call out the winners of the boxing or judo or wrestling (I forget which) match during the '88 Olympics in Seoul.

Anyway, this is not getting us to Jafar.

So, recall in the early 1990s a little Disney flick called Aladdin. I think it came out in 1992.
There was a character in the movie named Jafar. Jafar was the bad guy. There is a scene towards the very end of the movie where Jafar magically turns himself into a snake. I think many of you will know what I am talking about.

I swear this is going somewhere. Well at one time, Ippon had a terrible hairball issue. And he was horking up hairballs and food all over the place for a few days straight. One evening, my mom, my little sister, and I were all in the living room and in comes Ippon. He gets in the middle of the room and just hacks up the biggest, nastiest hairball I had ever (and still HAVE ever) seen. My mom goes over and looks and says, "Oh my God, look how big and coiled up it is; just like that snake guy in that movie---what's he called? Jafar?" I think I laughed for about 3 days straight.

So now and forevermore, when a cat throws-up or hacks op a hairball, it is called a jafar. The act of them throwing up is called jafarring. Here are some examples.

Me: What's wrong now?
Todd: There are jafars all over the place upstairs!

as a verb in the past tense:
Todd: Aren't you ready to go yet?
Me: No, Sophie jafarred on our bedspread and I have to clean it up first.

I'm sure I'll have an addendum soon. Lordy, there is a lot of crazy stuff I say!


Beth said...

I'm loving these. 'Tanked up' describes to a t how I'll be feeling by my sister-in-law when I'm in OC in July

Gina said...

LOL! The accompanying phrase to tanked up would be "head like a drum." Here's an example:

"I know that when I am in OC my sister-in-law will tank me up until my head is like a drum."

Which I think means that you are just filled with her hot air.


What's not to like about your blog!
I laughed so hard I jafared!