Why Our Families Create Unique ‘Familect’ Languages

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Family sitting on the couch as parents have a conversation with their child

“Familects help us feel like family. Private in-group language fosters intimacy and establishes identity,” writes linguist Kathryn Hymes in her recent Atlantic piece, "Why We Speak More Weirdly at Home.” The in-group language of a ‘familect’ — comprising terms, phrases, inside jokes, gaffes and gestures — binds a family together. During the pandemic, with so many people spending extended time together in close quarters, these private lexicons took off as people innovated and riffed on language. We’ll talk with Hymes about the phenomenon and we’ll create a listener dictionary of the terms from your ‘familect.’


Kathryn Hymes, computational linguist; co-founder, Thorny Games; author, "Why We Speak More Weirdly at Home"