Well, in the Hansen household, we have put in some effort to coining new words as well. It’s all part of the zany humor that goes back and forth between parents and kids.
My first original came when our middle child, Paul, was still in early elementary school. Paul was always quick to laugh—even at a pathetic joke—not because he couldn’t tell the difference between clever and lame jokes, but because…he liked to laugh. So one day, I came up with the word “humperschnick.” That is a clear original.
“What does that mean, Dad?”
“It means doing anything that your dad finds irritating.”
“What if I irritate Mom?
“Then that’s called hoppleschnicking.”
“What would you call me if I humperschnicked?”
“That would make you a humperschnicker. If you irritate Mom, then you’re a hoppleschnicker.”
“What if I irritate my sister or brother?”
Humperschnicker and humperschnicking got reduced to simply schnicker and schnicking. Hopple got left behind. And now, about the only one we use schnicker and schnicking on is our Golden Retriever, Biscuit, who is the ultimate schnicker. She turns twelve this month, and either is going deaf or is pretending to go deaf so she can ignore our commands. She always hears, “treat” or “food” (she knows those words soooo well), but “come” is ignored. My kids at least came on the third or fifth call. Biscuit simply ignores calls except when we say, “Biscuit, food!” Then, she’ll jump up with all the energy of a puppy.
Our next foray into word-smithing came by finding a nickname for spaghetti, “spaggots” (rhymes with “maggots”). Our youngest didn’t like spaghetti growing up, and, as he tells me now, “I’ll eat it, but it’s not my favorite.” So whenever he’d ask me, “Dad, what are we having for dinner,” I’d answer “spaggots”—something grossly akin to larvae. Even now, when nineteen-year-old Evan asks the dinner question, and we’re having spaghetti, my standard answer is still “spaggots.”
Biscuit is the occasional and unfortunate victim of (facetious) verbal abuse. In her early years, she earned the nickname “Stinker.” Calling her that became a coping mechanism to help the humans deal with the frustration of a hopelessly rascally pup. Whenever she was naughty, out came the name Stinker, and then everyone laughed, some gave her a hug, and some of the younger family members even gave her a kiss. In response, she smiled as if she was the essence of innocence. Schnicker was another nickname (already explained). But a third name was “cave-dweller.” Early on in our endeavor to understand the family pet, we read that dogs in the wild instinctively chose caves to dwell in, and that in the home, that instinct played out by sleeping or resting under chairs and tables. I’d ask our kids, “Where’s Biscuit?” and the kids answered, “Cave-dwelling.” Biscuit could crawl under the lowest of benches, chairs, tables—anything to give her cover. Even now, when there’s food on the dinner table, her cave is always directly under wherever the most crumbs fall.
Our next venture in word-creation came with Paul. One teenage day, he started calling me “Pa-rent” (though we are from Seattle, this name is pronounced through the nose in two distinct Southern-twang syllables). My wife is “Ma-rent,” and grandparents are “the grand-rents.” And in our typical back-and-forth style, I told Paul, “if we’re going to be rents, you’re going to be a runt.” And though he is now 22, I still call him “Paul-runt.” He’s living in the DC area and calls us almost weekly, if not more than once a week. Our conversations begin with, “Hey Pa-rent.” I respond with, “Hey Paul-runt, what’s going on?”
The most recent Hansen addition to the English language is a rather unsavory one—“bafoop.” I take Biscuit outside to take care of business—to bafoop. I refuse to take her on a walk until she has bafooped. I show her the plastic bag and the leash, and say, “Biscuit, you wanna go for a WALK?” She gets all excited, walks around in circles until she has made a sufficient deposit on the designated corner of the lawn, and then we go on her most glorious moment of the day—a one-mile walk (remember, she’s twelve). The old lady becomes a two-year-old dog that loves to bark and growl at any dog in sight, but suddenly transforms into a smiling creature of angelic disposition when passers-by dote on her.
Okay, maybe we in the Hansen household haven’t coined 1700 words like Mr. William Shakespeare did. We haven’t even coined 17. But, we’ve enjoyed our attempts at word craft, and are proud of our silly contributions to the English language.