Tuesday, May 29, 2007

pajancky and other Goodyear-isms

My family is big on making up our own words. At least, I think we make them up. We have been using these words for so long, they have actually become a part of our vocabulary, and the line blurs between what is a real word and what is a "Goodyear-ism." For example, the gook that gets stuck in the folds of a baby's neck? That's pajancky*. When a baby spits ups during feedings, that's a blickey. And when a baby is agitated, kicking his or her legs and fussing, we say that baby is rutchy.

I hesitate to use these words in front of strangers because I'm not clear anymore if they are actual words or not. My hesitation stems from an incident that occured when I was in sixth grade. A friend and I went to Woolworth's, where I was looking for pom-pom socks, and smugly asked the cashier where the "mum-mums" were. The cashier, of course, looked at me like I had three heads, and I couldn't understand why this person had no idea what mum-mums were. It was only then I realized that a significant portion of my vocabulary was purely made-up.

Have you ever read the children's book, Frindle? It's about a boy who is interested in the way that words are created, and he decides to conduct a little experiment. He begins calling his pen a "frindle," much to the dismay of his English teacher. The word catches on, and before long the entire country is using "frindle." Several years later, the word becomes official, and is included in the dictionary.

The other day, my husband mentioned that Charlotte had pajancky in her neck and needed a bath. I think that word has some potential. Who knows?

* Spelling is best-guess. I've never seen it written.


  1. Rutchy might be a real word. I vaguely remember telling Scott Morris that Sadie was being rutchy, and he was amazed that I knew that word, too.
    The rest is probably made up... Maybe it will catch on someday.
    I love the mum-mum story! And don't forget about goonies...that one definitely belongs to the Goodyears!

  2. I worry about this for my son - he's constantly using words and expressions that are just me being silly, only he confidently assumes they're real words, poor kid.

  3. I always thought that I made up the word cul-de-sac. When I was growing up there was a cul-de-sac at the end of our street that we used to play in. I can remember telling my mom with a wink "I'll be roller skating at the Cul-de-sac". I believe that I thought the word was a secret code word...no one else would know where I was. When I learned how to do "air quotes" I remember saying "I'll be at the "cul-de-sac".
    I have never asked my mom if she realized that I thought I invented the word. I remember how upset I was when I heard the word being used somewhere else. I will never admit to you how long I believed I invented the word but I will say it was a LONG time. Que sera, sera and no...I don't think I came up with that french phrase either.

  4. The origin of "pajancky" goes back to GW in the late 1990's and should be credited to Mary (Long) Brandman. I wish I could remember the myriad other words she invented...

    I think rutch might be a Yiddish word. Anyone?

    I was laughing my head off at Kelly Rimer's cul-de-sac post...

  5. I did a little research. "Rutch" is actually a Pennsylvania Dutch word. Of course!

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