Saturday, May 3, 2008

Chicklish as a Second Language

Chicklish as a Second Language

Hi guys! Some of your are, statistically speaking, moving in or about to move in with your girlfriend, fiancé, or wife. Congratulations! A huge step. You do realize that you basically need a passport, because you are about to move to a foreign country. It's her world, you are just going to visit it. This applies triple to the bathroom.

One thing that helps in going to a foreign country is learning the language. While in the outside we speak better English, on average, than you do, inside our own native land, we speak Chicklish. And if you want to be able to survive there, you should learn some to.

Chicklish is confusing, because while it sounds similar to English, it has very few cognates. Words which sound the same have completely different meanings. And then there is the grammar.

For a while now I've been compiling a manual on Chicklish as a second language, for all of the men who are trying to get permanent resident status any place where Chicklish is the official language.


In Chicklish, one would never say "I have too many clothes." It's not grammatical. Instead one would say:

"I have too many clothes in my closet." This means "My closet is too small." One might also say "I have too many clothes I don't wear." This means "I'm too fat." Another phrase that is grammatical would be "I have too many clothes I haven't worn in a while." This means, approximately, "My god what was I thinking when I bought that." Related phrases, as you can see, center around the closet, for example to say "That is so last year, only a loser would wear it now," instead say "I need to reorganize my closet."

Other celebrated clothes phrases include things like "I don't have anything to wear." This means "I need to go shopping, because the shoes that go with the color I feel like wearing aren't comfortable enough to stand their talking with your mother for two hours." Or "You are so thoughtful for giving me this." Which means "I hate that color."

Weight and Food

Food is a very difficult topic in Chicklish, because there are really two topics. Food, which is great, and weight which is terrible. It is important to realize that very often when talking about weight, the subject is really food, and when talking about food, the subject is really weight. And often the real subject is The Relationship. This has trapped many a novice student of Chicklish.

This is why there are so many dangerous questions. For example, the well known "Does this make my ass look fat?" Is not about weight or food, but affection, and therefore, The Relationship. The key is "fat." If the word "fat" appears in Chicklish, it is an invitation to reaffirm The Relationship.

Instead, food words usually center around pleasure, security and satisfaction. This is because often the same foods mean different things. For example, in Chicklish, "I love chicken," means "I love the wings, skin and other fatty parts of the chicken." Another example is "Are you hungry?" means "I am famished! Feed me!"

The Relationship

In guylish, "relationship" is an abstract, almost metaphysical noun. In Chicklish, it is a concrete noun, like table, chair, or door hitting the useless ex-boyfriend on the butt as he leaves. It's solid. This is why there are whole sections of chicklish that are devoted to The Relationship.

As noted before, any mention of fat, is probably about The Relationship. Many other words are also demands for a show of affection, like "Do you love me?" However,it is the reverse that is even more perilous: phrases which don't seem to be about the relationship, but are in fact about The Relationship. One important class of such questions is any phrase that begins with "Can you..." All of these really mean "Display you love me by doing ..." They aren't questions, but a form of the imperative common in Chicklish, the interogative imperative. Questions which are really invitations to do something.

Of course, it is well known that the words "talk," "communicate," and the phrase "time together," all mean that there are things that need to be done for The Relationship. However, exactly what is the important sense to get. Talk is almost always negative, where as communicate generally means that negative emotions need to be discharged, but the other side is positive. Time together is a warning that if fun is not had soon, then talking will be needed.

In summary, I hope these short notes on Chicklish as a second language have been helpful in showing some of the nuances that are possible, and will encourage students of this language to redouble their efforts to learn what is going to be your children's mother's tongue.

[For those above about 3 on the bozometer, this is all very tongue in cheek... Well mostly...]


  1. Very funny writing and helpful for this student of chicklish.

  2. Lillie: Enjoyed your blog. It is so true that there is a language barrier of sorts between the sexes. Women, for the most part, are very attuned to the subtle nuances that men throw off, while men, on the other hand, dont have that same awareness. Sometimes it's because men are wrapped up in themselves, used to being in control, forget that they need to nurture the needs and feelings of their partner; sometimes, it's just that they are totally clueless, and don't really care; sometimes all of the above.
    Men often say that women are difficult to understand. It's not that we try to be - it's just harder for women to be direct, to ask straight out for what they want; I think it's been our place in society that has created this, and unless a man really truly cares, the language barrier will always remain.

  3. Well Margo, when men say that women are difficult to understand, it's only because they are too lazy to try and understand us.
    I know women who do not understand men for the same reasons.
    And I know men who perfectly understand women's mysteries...
    But of course these are exceptions to the general rule!

  4. Before I can be direct with another about what I want, I need to know what I want. To allow myself to know. Which requires a relationship in which my needs, my opinions, my preferences, are all treated as legitimate. And interesting.

    In a culture where a woman's needs are often subordinant to the needs of others, that information needs to be consistently sought out.

    Thought provoking as usual, Lillie. Thank you.

  5. This is probably one of the best and most useful blog post I have ever read. I hope all the men out there read it, and reread it, and memorize it. It will save them all a lot of time, trouble, and possibly money in the end! Great job ;)

  6. Perfect!

    Now all we need to do is invent a Bablelchickfish to hand out to our guy friends for real time translation...