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Secret Family Language

handsLanguage is not always limited to the spoken or written word.  We all know that our body forms language in the ways we shrug a shoulder or wink an eye.  There are times that we know someone so well that we can tell what’s on their mind just by the way they stare off into space.

Or the section of a song that they hum.

Or how they sigh.

I like to believe that every family has some form of a secret language that lets each member know how they feel about the other.  Especially that they are loved or cared about.

As I write this, I am reminded of the Carol Burnett show that my family watched when I was a kid.  At the end of the show she did something that was part of her secret family language – she would tug on her ear.  I pulled the following off of this site: http://www.nndb.com/people/784/000022718/.

Carol Burnett’s parents were alcoholics, and her earliest memories are of their screaming, drunken fights. Her father abandoned the family when she was eight, and she and her mother moved in with Burnett’s loving but eccentric maternal grandmother, a hypochondriac subject to “hissy fits.” Burnett’s mother soon faded from the family into the bottle, leaving Burnett to be raised by her grandmother. They became very close, and Burnett’s famous “ear-tug” gesture, offered at the end of all her live performances and on her famous TV series, began as a silent signal to her grandmother, meaning “Everything is OK.”

My family has developed a secret way of saying “I Love You”.  When we are holding hands, we simply squeeze the other person’s hand three times.  One squeeze for each word:  “I”“Love”“You”.  Proper etiquette requires that the other person return the three squeezes.

How about you? Does your family have a way that they share their feelings that other people wouldn’t necessarily catch?

  1. June 18, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Back when Jo & I were dating in college we used 1-4-3 as a abbreviation for I love you. Still do. As for our girls it is pretty much “un-secret.” We just say those three words.

    • June 21, 2009 at 12:45 am

      I like the 1-4-3 code. What was the most unique way you have used it?

  2. June 20, 2009 at 5:13 am

    We have quite a few ‘in-jokes’ that we tend to use a lot. They are most often, but not always from some of the TV shows we watch. The humour strengthens the familial ‘bonds’ more than using ‘normal’ language in an everyday situation might.

    More recently a toy bear that repeats a few phrases (“i’m naked – i have a Bear Bum.”) provides some such opportunities.

    on another ‘tack’ i remember being struck by the thought a teen relative sent us some years ago of a < 3 symbol for 'love' and started saying "i less than three you".

    which has since progressed into a wider meaning with my <B symbol (less of me)


    • June 21, 2009 at 12:44 am

      Ah.. now I know what the <B means. That is cool!

      A bear bum.. huh?

      My dad used to say something that I now repeat to my children…. "Hey, did you know that I am naked underneath my clothes?"

  3. June 21, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Translation: Bear Bum = bare bottom :-O


    and thanks for ‘finding’ me 🙂


  4. June 22, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Tony, thanks for participating in one of the most interesting exchanges ever on The Church of No People this weekend. It was really quite impressive. I always know it’s going to be good when it has your name on it.

    On your subject, I’m told that as a toddler, I actually did have a made up language that had to be deciphered. More like what you’re talking about, I met my wife at a church. At the end of the service, everyone joins hands, and I ‘happened’ to be standing next to her. So I just rubber her hand a couple of times with my thumb which was a code that I didn’t think she’d pick up on, but she did. So we still do that.

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