Tag Archives: nickname

Culinta (Cullies) and Ginkles (Ginks)

  • Conext: The following informant, T, is a 56 yr. old married mother of three. She comes from a large Italian family. She explains to me the alternative names she and her entire extended family use for vagina (culinta/cullie) and penis (ginkle/ginks). The informant also sings me a song she created when her daughter was a toddler that incorporates a variant of the word culinta that is now sung throughout her family to female toddlers. The conversation took place in the informants kitchen as we looked at old family photos and remembered other folkspeech used among the family. 
  • Text:

T: “In my family growing up we would call vaginas culintas and penises ginkles and I don’t know where it came from. But it came from my dad’s side of the family, and they we’re Italian, and they would really call it a cullie or a ginks or a ginkle and we would just reference that…

And so when [my daughter] was little I made up this song about putting her pull-ups on in the kitchen and it would go… it goes like this…

‘Put the pulls on the cules and make the coffee in the kitchen’

And now that’s a family song. And all of the nieces, all of my nieces, sing that song to their kids.”

  • Analysis: Sex is a very tabboo subject in American society. The conversation of genitalia is also often censored. I believe this may be one of the reasons for the wide variety of vocabulary used to describe male and female genitalia. It does not shock me that my own family uses the words culinta and ginkle, because even though we’re aware of what body parts we’re referring to, it somehow makes the conversation feel appropriate to any audience. In addition, the words themselves sound more similar to Italian words, so they harken back to our ancestry. I plan on teaching the words culinta/cullie and ginkle/ginks to my children, as I’m not sure they could survive in our family without knowing the meaning of those words. Surprisingly to me, when the terms are used around non-family members, they often understand the meaning, but I would attribute this more to the context in which they are used. Perhaps from the other parts of the conversation, the person is able to pick up on the meaning of the words rather than inherently knowing the definitions. 

Going Out the Road

  • Context: The informant (A) is a 19 year old college student who lives at the Jersey Shore in South New Jersey in the summer. He explains to me the colloquial term used in his town when a person is driving from the island on which they live to stores inland. The conversation came up during a family discussion whether or not everyone in the town of Sea Isle City, NJ knows the term “out the road” means going inland or if it is specific to the informant’s family (this was never resolved). 
  • Text:

A: “Out the road is when you’re down at the shore in New Jersey… which is the southern part of Jersey in between Atlantic City and Wildwood.

And… uh… when you’re going out the road you drive inland and south towards where the shopping centers are in middle New Jersey… uh… and there’s a TJMaxx and there’s a couple other stores…

And you go out the road when you uh… when you want things… anyway that’s what out the road is.”

  • Analysis: “Out the road” is a term used to describe going from the islands to the inlands because you physically must go out the road. There is only one road leading in and out of the island in New Jersey where the informant spends his summers, so it makes sense that there is a term for this action. It creates a group of those who know the local terms and those who do not. It also creates a group of inlanders and islanders and the two are physically separated by a road as well as a specific term/speech.

Never Ever Ebbers

L is a 53-year-old homemaker living in Winnetka, IL. L grew up mainly in the northern suburbs of Illinois, but she also lived in Germany and England for a while when she was younger. L speaks English primarily but she is learning French. L attended both the University of Southern California and the University of Wisconsin Madison for her undergraduate college education. L considers herself to be American. She does not really identify with her Welsh ancestry.

Me: What’s something funny your family likes to joke about?

L: Oh! Never ever ebbers.

Me: What is that?

L: Well, they are a very creative and inventive name for a drip castle made on a beach.

Me: Ok. Where did they originate?

L: They originated in Ogunquit, Maine, on a small lighthouse beach. My four year old daughter was sitting on the beach and she was very engaged in making this castle and I remember leaning over and saying “can I help you make a castle?” And she just looked at me and said it is not a castle, it is “Nebber Ebber Ebbers.” I think she was trying to say Never ever land or something like that.

Me: But ebbers stuck?

L: We sat there making ebbers forever. I swear we were making ebbers for three hours. And then my husband and I kept asking what is never ever ebbers, and she would reply, “it’s nebber ebber ebbers!” so, the funniest part was when we asked her if we could eat the ebbers. She said no. Is ebbers a castle or a house? She’d say no. And finally I just agreed with her that it must just be never ever ebbers, and I learn something new every day.

Me: So it’s a family thing then? Like a joke.

L: Yeah. We’ve reminded her about it ever since then. We sometimes ask her what it means. when she was 10 we asked her what it meant and she said “what?” Then we asked her if she remembered the drip castles and she was like, “oh!” Then she shrugged her shoulders and said “I don’t know.” I guess we’ll never know! It’s sad, but it’s still funny.

L talks about a the name that her daughter created for the drip castles she was making. The phrase that her daughter started has become a family joke and now drip castles are called “never ever ebbers.” They will probably never know the reason she came up with the name, but it doesn’t seem like that matters. It’s justa  funny memory and a story to tell any time anyone ever makes a drip castle.