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You Say Banana, I Say Bah nah nah
by Jennifer Pellegrino
03/28/12
Not For Sale
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My family on my mother’s side, the Garippa’s, has its own language. The language is a dialect of Pig Latin. We speak that all the time in supermarkets, games and at family gatherings (as if no one will understand what we’re saying). Some families roll into Spanish randomly; we roll into Pig Latin. On top of our own language, we also have Garippa terms. Garippa terms are words, or groupings of more than one word, that have a meaning one could only know if they knew the story behind it. A Garippa term is all inclusive. However, it is also a testimony to the uniqueness of the family itself. Because of that, I suppose I can share three examples of these terms. The examples are Angelina Jibadootsa, savaleega, and strapless.

Angelina Jibadootsa was a lady who lived in the same neighborhood as the Garippa brothers and sisters. There was nothing interesting about her, except her name. My Grandma and her sisters took to that name awful fast. They liked to say it. Angelina Jibadootsa, Angelina Jibadootsa, Angelina Jibadootsa. It has a nice Italian flow to it, doesn’t it? Like “Aeaaay, AngelEEna JibadOOtsah!” Apparently my grandma thought so because she called my mom Angeline Jibadootsa, my mom called me Angelina Jibadootsa, and I called my dolls Angelina Jibadootsa. My cousin Amanda calls me that all the time, and both I and Amanda call my little cousins that. It’s a term to call a female a young, silly, and cute girl whether she’s five or fifty. That is only one example of a Garippa term.

Another example of a Garippa term is a savaleega. A savaleega was actually Savaleega. She was my great-Grandfather Garipps’ cousin. And she was forever in somebody’s business. When my Grandpa Garipps would come home each day to his two story house in Garfield she would say, “Frank, you know what you’re kids did today?” Everyone wanted to kick her. The term ‘savaleega’ began between my great aunts and uncles. Just like little children snicker and mock their annoying teacher, so the Garippa children did with their father’s cousin. And God-forbid it if one should be called a savaleega! A savaleega is not something that one would like to be called. It’s a snitch; a nosy body.

My absolute favorite example of a Garippa term is strapless. Strapless is a noun according to the Garippa family. It is one who drinks a beverage as if it were life itself without ever taking a breath. Years ago, my Great Aunt Mathilda owned a little corner store. This one man, affectionately named Strapless by my Great Aunt Mat, always came in wearing suspenders. He never wore a strap (back then a ‘belt’ was called a ‘strap’); hence the name Strapless. Mr. Strapless would buy his beverage, then stand in the store and completely inhale the contents of his beverage’s bottle without bothering to breathe. My Great Aunt Mat used to almost pee her pants watching him, and strapless quickly got spread around the family, and is still the most used term of all.

Angelina Jibadootsa, savaleega, and strapless are all examples of Garippa terms. None of these terms make any sense whatsoever. They are just the product of thirteen hysterical brothers and sister who liked to have fun and make fun. The Garippa’s are fun people. I have an insanely funny family. These terms are what make us unique and that’s why we’ve held onto them for generations and we will continue to.


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