Posted: April 16, 2010 in Culture, Family, Nostalgia

I’m sure you remember this word. I’m sure ALL of us remember this word from the song in “Mary Poppins” (1964).  It was the craziest yet coolest sounding word I had ever heard as a child. What a mouthful, but it was music to my ears.  Loved saying it and still do 🙂  I’m proud to say that my boys can say this word rather fluently.  This is something to brag about (I think), because English is not even their mother tongue! Then again, is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious an English word? It does sound English-ish, no? I think it means something to say when you don’t know what to say. That was what Mary Poppins was trying to explain in her song.  When trying to express oneself, it’s frankly quite absurd, to leaf through lengthy lexicons to find the perfect word. A little spontaneity keeps conversation keen; You need to find a way to say, precisely what you mean…Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” Yeah, go on…. say, it. I promise you, you will feel good!  Yes, I always feel good when I hear that certain verve in a word, foreign, yet funny and cleverly coined.   

I remember as a child, reading a book entitled, “The boy with the longest name”.  Believe you me, I can still remember his name. Can you say this after me?  Tikitikitembonosoremboumamuchigamagamamuchi. Guess what, he had a brother and his name was simply, “Chang”. Sorry, Chang, I’m going for Tikitikitembonosoremboumamuchigamagamamuchi. LOL!   

I always got excited when one of my brothers came home from a Boy Scout Campfire. He would sing gobbledygook scouting songs, which were hocus-pocus to me. Probably one of the most gibberish songs that I could remember was this one (written by Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout Movement) :  

Ging gang goolie, goolie, goolie, goolie, watcha,   

Ging gang goo, Ging gang goo.   

Ging gang goolie, goolie, goolie, goolie, watcha,   

Ging gang goo, Ging gang goo.   

Heyla, oh heyla shayla,   

Heyla shayla, heyla ho.   

Heyla, oh heyla shayla,   

Heyla shayla, heyla ho.   

Shally-wally, shally-wally   

Shally-wally, shally-wally   

Oompah, oompah, oompah   

Then I remember my brother doing the haka, which sounded something like this :  Boom bala kacha, boom bala kacha, boom bala kachi kala ka dish bom ba and then Adee jee, adee jee, ah ooh ah, bing bong bah, ra ra ra!  I was mesmeric! Spellbounded!  

And of course, there was uncle John.  He was, perhaps, the funniest uncle I have known. He could coin mumbo-jumbo words. I remember hearing him sang absurd sounding songs.  Yep, they were all foreign to me. As years passed by, and I married a Flemish- (Dutch-) speaking man, I understood now that one of  the songs my uncle used to sing when I was a child was a Dutch song! It was called, Lang zal hij/zij leven.  A song sung for a birthday celebrant. (Note: “hij” is male and “zij” is female). The lyrics as follows (for a male birthday celebrant)…  

Lang zal hij leven,
Lang zal hij leven,
Lang zal hij leven in de gloria,
In de gloria, in de gloria!   

Hieperderpiep, hoera!
Hieperderpiep, hoera!
Hieperderpiep, hoera!  

When I was in Kuching in 2004 and met uncle John, he was ecstactic when he heard my then 3 year old son sang “Lang zal hij leven“. Guess what, they are now the best of buddies :-D. Music has a way of lifting us out of ordinary existence into the extraordinary. Music or any nonsensical sounding, abracadabra words for that matter can bring people closer.  Wait til you hear this one: Wadekootdelootdesootwadesootdelootdekootananahassantaskelebatkeleboot. Who else, but only uncle John made that word up.  And thanks to you, uncle John, I am “doomed” with carrying on your work.  Here’s one from me to my boys:  Acheekaleekabongchengtay! And from my boys to me: Hottentottententententoonstelling!  

 By the way, Hakuna matata…. and have a great weekend! See ya! 😉

  1. DADA says:

    tetak aku bila baca tok. sampe wadekut pun masuk juak. i enjoyed reading this very much. i don’t reckon many would know how to say some of the words especially wadekut…hahaha

  2. Dada says:

    oh ya just to add….your boy Kev can really say the “wadekoot….” with perfection just like his Ah Ma and his Koo Kong. I don’t think the rest of Ah Ma’s grandchildren can remember that majestic word. hahaha….

  3. Nasifriet says:

    Aoklah da, we r the only remaining ones who know this word. I’ve passed this on to my boys and it’s up to them to pass this on further… 😉

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Both boys can say this word in unison!! Wait til you and mum come over, we’ll say that together 😀

  5. jules says:

    Great reading Che , I’m simply blown away with all those words which has been with us for the longest time . One might say that perhaps language and music makes the world go round.

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Absolutely! We are blessed with the best of both worlds, maternal and paternal sides of our family (language + music). Jules, your talent is playing music by ear :-D. You’re the soul of the party, you know. Piano, guitar and with no music lessons, ever? Yes, Oh my God!!

  7. Lee Choo says:

    Hi, Dora- what a marvellous way to keep in touch.I remember the word, we always say that is the longest word in the dictionary. But these days, there are so many new words coined, like jimmy choos(which means your expensive branded shoes!!) and many more….how are you guys keeping and coping with the ash all over Europe….

  8. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Lee Choo!! So good to hear from you. We’re doing great, thanks! Oh yes, what can I say about Eyjafjallajökull (yeah, another long word…hahaha). Today is the 5th day that almost all airports in North, East and West Europe are closed. The departure halls are completely deserted. I read in the papers recently that it costs Brussels Airport at least Eur 95M per day!! I have colleagues who went for business trips to Asia Pac before the volcanic eruption and they are stranded in HK!! School children on excursions overseas are also stranded all around the globe and today is the first day of school after the 2-week school Easter break! They are expected back til end of this week, so no classes for them all of this week !! Pray that it will not go on for too long, because I expect visitors over this summer! How are you, Lee Choo? When’s your next trip to EU? Do let me know. Cheers!

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