The other day I ran into a friend of mine who happens to be a regular reader of this column and she wanted clarification on a word or two that I had used in some past articles. Quite often I forget myself and use some of my Mom’s phrases I heard so many times growing up that they simply became part of my vocabulary and I bandy them about like everybody should know what I am talking about. I also make assumptions in my writing regarding the readers’ abilities to follow my dialog. Sorry about that. You know what happens when you ass-u-me something, don’t you?
I will have to reveal a bit of family history in order to fully explain how some of the words that I use became the norm in the language used in our home while the Hubbard kids were growing up. You see, Mom was a full-blooded Hungarian with English becoming a second language to her when she became school age. Dad grew up in a wholly English household where English was the only language used.
My Grandma Vedres, Mom’s Mom, knew some English but she pretty much stuck to her mother tongue as most of her family and friends spoke Hungarian a majority of the time. Let’s just say that she understood English better than she spoke it.
Dad never really liked Mom’s family talking Hungarian together because he always thought that they were talking about him! To that end, the only Hungarian spoken around our house on a regular basis was when Grandma was over for tea or maybe if one of Mom’s siblings happened to be visiting.
That didn’t stop Mom from using the odd slang or a curse word or two in her native tongue when the potatoes boiled over or the stupid toaster burnt the bread. So we grew up with kind of a hybrid language with common Hungarian words and slang thrown in with the everyday English but Mom didn’t teach us the complete Hungarian language that she and Grandma spoke.
Now, after that long-winded explanation, the word that I had used a couple of weeks ago is more attributable to a Rose Hubbard-ism than it is an actual Hungarian term, I’m thinking, but “schmutrooking”, (this is my spelling of a word I heard many, many times but never saw in a written form), was the word Mom used when she described someone walking slowly and scuffling their feet along. Skulking, as it were. As in, “look at ol’ Sushinka schmutrooking down the street again!” Make sense? I hope so.
Those are the words I grew up hearing! That was just Mom. My Mom was a very funny woman with a great sense of humour. She was an accomplished story teller and her colourful language always added a little extra flavour to her tales.“All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.”-Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-1936).