Sunday, October 3, 2010

We speak...?

When our oldest was about 18 months old someone gave him a chocolate lollipop. A few weeks later I was making chocolate chip cookies and he asked me for a “chocolickter.” I had no idea what he was talking about…until he pointed to the bag of chocolate chips. I always associated this with the lollipop – something chocolate that you lick – a “chocolickter!” The name stuck. I have a horrific sweet tooth and have learned (with time and patience) to satisfy it by giving myself about 20 chocolate chips after dinner. I might ask my husband, “Do you want some chocolikters?” or our oldest (who is now almost 5) will say, “Can I have chocolickters for dessert?”

Now our youngest is two-and-a-half. For some reason, he can’t say chocolikters. He calls them “choconilders.” So, when we talk to him, we call them choconilders. It has become part of our family vocabulary.

I think this is probably true with all families, but I see it being especially true for Foreign Service families because of the language mishmash. Jeremy and I had a handful of foreign words we used before the boys even came along. Two of our favorite words came from our time in Japan – “iinaka” for countryside (which has now totally been changed to campo) and “benri” for convenient. I especially love benri. We use it like, “Do you just want to stop and pick something up to eat on the way? It would probably be more benri.”

We also both tend to use the word “cheers” at the end of phone conversations – this is left from our time working in Belfast (and Jeremy’s Bunac days in London after college). And, then we have the ever-increasing Spanish. Now we even say things like, “Podemos ir a Jumbo (that’s the supermarket near us) and pick up some dinner. That would be mas benri.” The list goes on and on.

And then, we top it off with all of the abbreviations – both from State and Peace Corps. HHE, UAB, PCV, CBT, COS… WOW!

I sometimes wonder if our boys will even know the English words for things. More and more I just say this gobble of words from different places and trust that it makes sense…at least to the FS people.

I know I probably wouldn’t be able to get far back home with something like this (which will be an actual accounting of my Tuesday evening this week), “Since I’m going to be in Constanza on Wednesday doing the CBT charlas with the PCTs and since the Newmans are coming over for dinner after their HHE gets picked up, maybe we should just pedir a pizza or something.” Sounds like an evening to me…adding, of course, a dessert of chocolickters…or choconilders that is.


  1. When I studied abroad in college, I was in class with a foreign service/army brat who had never really lived in the US. He often didn't know random English words. The one I remember is that he didn't know the word for easel.

  2. if i'm surprised (i.e. getting cut off in traffic), i still curse like a sailor in french. i say things in french that i would never ever consider saying in english. i guess it's a linguistic safehouse for me :)

  3. That reminds me of how much I want to take up shouting "Coño!" in Spanish in similar's not nice, but I like it : )