Made Up Words · 13 November 2010

My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, likes to make up words. It is one of the reasons that she is mindboggling.

When we first met, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi (who was not yet a Mrs. Miyoshi but was still Mindboggling) used the word “tinky” quite a bit. Instead of using more familiar words like teensy or tiny, she liked her own word for “very small.” It was funny to hear a grown woman use such a funny word even though she was the mother of a four-year old. I am sure that The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi did not make up the word (after all, there is a purple Teletubby with the name Tinky Winky, who, ironically, is the largest of the four). Still, we got into silly discussions about using this made-up word.

To this day, we get into discussions of using made-up words. Mostly, I like to point out that our three children might use these words in conversation and have people think them uneducated or something. While this is unlikely for our two younger boys, Thing 1 might get quite a bit of ribbing for using “tinky” or “feets” in conversation with his new college buddies he will meet.

Of all the funny words The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi uses, perhaps the most ridiculous is “feets.” It is of course, the plural of foot. After she uses the word (“Would you like to rub my feets?”), I like to point out that it is not a word. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi always replies, “Look it up in the dictionary.”

“’F’-‘E’-‘A’-‘T’-‘S’ is a word, but ‘F’-‘E’-‘E’-‘T’-‘S’ is not,” is always my exasperated retort.

She grins and repeats, “Look it up.”

“I don’t need to.”

“So, then it must be a word, if you are afraid of being wrong.” Again, she grins. Or sticks out her tongue.

I just sigh. But whether I have this discussion with my kids (who, by the way, do know better) or my wife, I know I cannot win even by looking up the word. They will all still use the word “feets” as plural for “foot.”

I sometimes argue that “feets” should be the plural of “feet.” That is to say that you might have a pair of feet, but if you have several pair, you would have a bunch of feets. While it seems logical and is perhaps a concession to the family using this crazy word, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi says knowingly, “No. That would be ‘feetses.’” I just roll my eyes at that one.

There are many more made-up words that my wife and family use on a fairly regular basis, but I seem to have forgotten most of them. I suppose it is because I have gotten so used to hearing them in our household, I sometimes forget that they are made-up. That would not be so bad, but I fear the day when I say to my football players, “You’ve got to move your tinky feetses.” I fear that they might all die laughing at my wife’s made up words.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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