Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Conserving Family Lexicon

Think of all those words our children make up, or how they morph proper words into their own vernacular. Those small utterances are the most precious, silly or insightful things we’ve every heard. We think there is no way we could ever forget them. But, we often do. In the photo to the left, my girls are yelling their childhood words into a basin to catch a few echoes.

With the ease of word processing we can build a living legacy Family Dictionary. Enter these words as we hear them and secure the family lexicon for generations to come. The front pages of a dictionary should help one assemble pronunciation keys and proper layout. is also a great resource.

Be creative in defining the word. For example if the word is “moomie,” don’t define it as a movie. Write a definition from the child’s perspective like “a motion picture that is usually watched four times a month like the moomie, Babe.” Here are a few examples: (āb'soh-lōōp'pē) adv. why yes!
Origin: Little Poe, 1998.
Da.doo (dā'dōō) v. to offer gratitude.
Origin: Little Mommy, 1970.
(grās'pop'pər) n. any of numerous herbivorous insects, that jump great distances while simultaneously making a buzzing sound that is frightening but oddly intriguing.
Origin: Little Pie, 2003 while camping in a meadow in the Rockies.
Meesh.mal.low (mēsh'māl'ō) n. a sugar confection, usually soft and spongy, usually roasted on a
stick over the campfire.
Origin: Little Jimmy, 1964.
Pan.a.cake (pān'ə'kāk') n. a small, flat pat of batter, scientifically proven to have more valleys and ridges than Kansas, fried on both sides with Papa’s panacake Pan on Sunday mornings.
Origin: Little Pie, 2003.
Up.stairs Back.wards (ŭp'stârz' bāk'wərdz) adj. downstairs.
Origin: Little Poe, 2000 at Papa’s house in Virginia in the middle of the night.

A living Family Dictionary of Quotations also makes a great legacy too. Follow the format style of other books of quotations; they are usually organized in alpha order by person. I think it best to list the quotations chronologically. A sample may look something like:

Little Pie, 2001-

  1. Don’t bother my truth! 2004
  2. You are going to hear two different stories. Mine is the truth! 2007, Said to TKH while on a play date.
  3. Daddy, are you available for me to jump on your stomach? 2009
Little Po, 1997-
  1. The Dolly Mama is a Buddhist Chipmunk who teaches us compassion. 2000
  2. Brie cheese tastes like the floor of the hardware store. 2001
  3. This store smells like bottoms. 2001, Said while walking through a leather furniture store.
  4. We are playing “I Win!” 2001, Said in reference to her Uncle Kiko’s question: What card game are we playing? You keep changing the rules.
Enjoy it! To think you might start something that spans the lives of many generations. I think our children would be proud to see their names in a dictionary or book of quotations. There is no doubt it would make them feel important and loved and give their children a good laugh at what their parents said when they were once small.


  1. how true! My seven year old son Quinn has tons of Quinn-isms.

    "man-boy", his description of a teenage boy is my favorite.

  2. How about "mick-a-donalds?" Little Pie?

  3. Just the other day ma petite 7 yr old mentioned that she was "writing a work of friction". I wish I had taken the time to write down all the amazing things my soon to be eight year old has said over the years. There is such an amazing truth to children's observation and the way they translate it into language. I will certainly make more of an effort to log my second child's vernacular. I think I will carry a journal marked specifically for this purpose.

  4. I jot down these fun sayings that I try to transfer to a journal that I keep for each child, though I LOVE the idea of doing some more "formal" like this. Thanks for the fun idea!

  5. An a hickey-tar is a guitar of course.

  6. This is the best idea! I'm definitely going to do this. Just think what a wonderful gift it would be for the kids many years down the road!