Insider Lingo

So I spent the last few weeks busy playing dance mom. Imagine me with a blank face asking: What is a sock bun? I have to make what in her hair? With a what? Sock in hand, long hair, I tried to do the impossible. Um... Pinterest? Please help me. Turns out it wasn't so hard, thank you Pinterest.

Until then, I had never even heard of a sock bun. Last year I mastered the "high bangs" and "smoky eye", which were just as big a mystery to me. I feel like a pro now. Well, until next year when I have to try something I've never heard of again.
I recently attended a meeting in a health facility and tossed around the term patient as if I was an insider. Didn't everyone in the health business use the word patient? I got sideways glances. When listening to the others speak in this group, I saw my faux pas. They used the term clients not patients. Oh my. I wasn't using the right word.

Audience, customers, patients, members, clients, patrons, recipients, readers, consumers, buyers, shoppers... each profession has a different term, how to know who uses what?

And the different lingo doesn't end there. Even different parts of our country have different lingo. We wear bunny hugs, whereas others wear pullovers and last week I was in a neighbouring province and saw a sign for a popover. I pulled it from the rack. Looked like a fancy-dancy bunny hug to me.

When we're writing we want our characters to be firmly planted in their worlds so our readers get involved and forget they're reading. Doc needs to talk to his patients, but the caregiver should visit her clients. Small difference that makes the characters more believable.

So! This is why they say to write what you know. How can I fix this? I can't know everything. But!! I do know others. Asking a lawyer to read a client-lawyer meeting scene and point out the things they would never say or do really opened my eyes. And when all else fails, I turn to Internet Communities. Help is just a click a way, sometimes.

They say it takes a community to raise a family, but I guess, it takes a few communities to write a book, and make a sock bun, and look professional at a meeting... 
Any insider lingo that had you stumped? How do you get around it?

This cool book I read has some neat examples of insider lingo


Richard Hughes said...

I prefer sticking with the dictionary words as much as possible. That's the easiest way to be understood by nearly everyone.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I ask "experts" when I can, as you did. I also go online to sites that might have the info I want. God Bless the Internet.

Suzi said...

I gotta admit, I didn't know what a bunny hug or a popover meant. I thought a popover was just a type of food.

I googled it, but I'm still not clear on the popover. Is it a men's shirt that buttons down the front? That's sorta what I found, but then there was another that showed a short sleeve, sorta v-neck t-shirt.

Okay. So I grew up 1 hour south of Canada. Manitoba. And so we had lots of Canadians visiting. And we went to college with one. He was a good friend, but we all teased him about using holiday instead of vacation. And a few other things of course.

He was a good sport though.

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Suzi, it's a sweater with a hood and pocket in the front. It's pulled over. I suppose it might be something different in a different area but that's what we call a bunny hug and that's what this popover looked like without the pocket in the front.