The Cambrian

Lady Tie Di: Communication is caught up in our language

When babies are born, people come up to them lovingly and make goo-goo noises at them. “Ooooo, wud a widdoh dumplin’!” and the kid releases a little pressure and the passerby is tickled that they were “laughed” at. The little one burbles and eventually grunts back. This is the basis for language development.

We can’t wait for them to utter their first “real word,” each parent laying down money which of them will be admired first. “I swear she said Da Da!” “She was looking at the dog, honey —nice try!”

My first son spoke in sound effects until he was a couple of years old. Not many words. Then around three years of age his preschool teacher asked kindly, “Does he ever NOT talk?” He even spoke in his sleep.

We had an expression around my mom’s house that we were “vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” My kids know what a phonograph is so they do get the joke. Another line among the loquacious, “Take a breath, lose your turn.” Ah, but as new parents, those thoughts never cross your mind. “Say Ma Ma!”

My second son seems to get much amusement from using the street vernacular. “Cuz that’s the way I roll.” Easy enough to understand — the old copout for “because I’m too lazy to do it any other way.” Or something like that. Some times. Kidding, honey.

More often than not, those early burbling noises and grunts are reemployed by about 12 years of age. “What did you do in school today?” “Hrunnthin.” “Uh, pardon?” Don’t bother looking for the Cliff Notes. Where’s that interpreter I hired?

Easy ones: Bling (originally Bling Bling)—referring to ostensible clothing and a style that is related to it; Dis—As in “disrespect”… “Hey, man, don’t dis me!”; dope (used to refer to drugs)—something really good as in “He’s a real

dope artist.” ; homey— your friend. Pretty “old school” lingo these days.

Zachary and I were just having a conversation about this (yes, dialogue!). He was mentioning something about Crunk ( ter m=crunk) then some rap song with a whole other language that he was just barely able to make sense out of. I found a Web site with slang, mostly out of Oakland (a hotbed of lexicon development) Oh, now there’s an education for you English majors.

While there were some of the aforementioned terms, I was amused to find “cupcaking” it refers to a couple holding hands, flirting, exhibiting public displays of affection. And “wiggles” is simply a handshake where your hands don’t touch but you wiggle your fingers near each other. How cute to see the Bloods and Crips “wiggling.”

But each generation has historically developed their own language. I can hear some high brow in a nice suit addressing his class, “Balling the Jack — a dance accompanied by lusty hand-clapping; to work swiftly” (according to de/163). How many parents recoiled when addressed for the first time as Daddy-o. How shocking now is “cool, boss, groovy or, dare I say it…bitchin? It’s copasetic!

But you know, much as I hound them about their grammar, their texting lingo, street talk and occasional expletives, I’m just happy to have the kids address me at all!

E-mail Lady Tie Di, aka Dianne Brooke, at tiedi@att . net, or visit her Web site at