“What a Le”: An Eng Nickname Primer

By Angela

Back in June, when writing about Father’s Day, Matt mentioned he had a family tradition of developing a sort of in-family language. He’s extended this tradition to me, so now we’ve got our own in-family language. A quick (and updated) vocabulary lesson:

“Hey how much?” – It’s time to make a bottle. How many ounces?

“Are you going to boob her?” – Are you going to breastfeed?

“Here comes the sadness”- We’re about to dump water over your head in the bathtub

Are you ty-ty? – Are you tired?

Not as good as “Frogurt.”

Aside from the weird sounding questions, Matt’s got a habit of naming those nearest and dearest to him, and they tend to catch on fast. Think Sawyer from Lost, only a bit more abstract. The cat is not Gozer, she’s Kee (short for Kitty), Shrimp Toast, Puddin’Cup. The dog is rarely Torrance, she’s Boo-Boo, T-Dawg, Butterbutt. Those are just examples. In many cases, the names evolve and become offshoots of one another. And no, I do not get the cute names.

Zelda, however, does. Before she was born, Matt started calling her Z-Gram, the semi-official title for policy directives issued by Elmo Zumwalt, an American naval officer in the Vietnam War era. Several friends have heard us call her this, and one who was familiar with naval history even had a laugh about it. Our last trip back to Suffolk, her 6 year-old cousin used the term and I thought I was going to keel over from the adorable.

Little Crabcake.

For awhile we called her “La,” which was a direct reference to the sounds she used to make when she was crying: “La, La, La, La.” We also called her “Little Crabcake,” because I got her footie PJs with crabs on them. We don’t really use them anymore, though.

An early one that stuck was “Plumpo,” which eventually evolved to “Plumpy.”  Offshoots include Plum, Baby Plump, and Little Plump. I try not to use this one in mixed company too much, but one time I referred to her as Plumpy in front of my brother. He asked, “Who’s Plumpy?” and I probably turned fifty shades of red. This one is slowly getting phased out in favor of “Poopy.” I’ve got to remember not to use that one in front of anyone else!

A more recent one is “Qua-Le” and its offshoot “Wah-Le.” This sort of comes from her daycare provider. She speaks another language, so sometimes she holds out her hands for Zelda I hear her say, “Cha-Le.” I don’t know what it means, but I assume its some form of “come here.” Matt latched on to the “Le” (pronounced “lay”) part of the phrase, and started calling Zelda “Le.” He still does, but only in certain contexts. I’ve noticed he mostly uses it when she’s showing signs of being tired, and makes comments like, “Aww Le. What a Le.” Qua-Le and Wah-Le came about from one of Matt’s made-up songs that goes something like, “Qua-Le, Wah-Le, a doot-doot-doot, a deet-deet-deet.” Now, when he texts me and asks how she’s doing, it’s always “How’s that Qua-Le?”

I guess it all sounds kind of silly, but I love having our own language and making up our own songs. Sooner or later Zelda’s going to catch on, and it’s all going to change. I distinctly remember my mom calling me Stinkpot when I was a kid, and I’m pretty sure I must have told her to stop at some point. Got to enjoy it while we can.

2 thoughts on ““What a Le”: An Eng Nickname Primer”

  1. Wow. This sounds just like me and my boyfriend-especially the pet names. We have a dog named Buddy, but he’s Buds McSpuds, Buddykins, or Mr. Budinski. Our dog Oliver is Ollie, Oliver McButterton, Prince Ollie. Our cat is named Newt but I call him Noodle or Noodlekiss. My boyfriend’s mom’s dog even has nicknames (Mortal Kombat or Mortimus Prime instead of Mort). We use “he’s flopped” for tired–usually when the pups are tired and their ears get floppy. Or sreppy instead of sleepy. Or Fruit Loops will now and forever be Fruit Roops. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my awesomeness. 🙂 After dating for 6 months, I knew Brendan “spoke” Lacie when he called snowflakes “snowflakeys.” I asked “Did you just call them snowflakeys?” He tried to deny it, but I knew. It’s really love when you have your own language.

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