Ah, the family lexicon. Ours is bizarre and extensive, including such neologisms as “threehead,” “agilitous,” “wobbits” and “clape.” We come by it honestly. My dad referred to the white residue left on one’s toothbrush as “spinge.” We carry that one forward in homage.

For the most part we remember where the words came from and we’re all careful to keep these words within the privacy of our weird family conversation at home. But occasionally a word becomes so much a part of our lives that one or another of us is no longer aware that it’s not universally understood. Such was the case with the gazinta bar.

Fiona knows that there are two ways to think about division. You can think of it according to the fractionalization model: you are splitting a larger number into so many equal smaller pieces. Or you can think of it according to the measurement model: you are figuring out how many pieces of a particular size fit into the larger number. Twenty divided by four is a quarter of twenty (i.e. 5) or else it is the fact that five fours fit into twenty.

And when it comes to long division, we use the measurement model. We draw this symbol: it’s a right parenthesis with a horizontal bar attached to the top of it, extending to the right. It’s a gazinta bar, because we use it when we’re figuring out how many times 9 gazinta 28.9. I coined the word back when Erin was working in Singapore 4B I think. I thought it was pretty clever. It was a reminder of which conceptual model of division we needed to use when doing larger problems or those involving remainders or decimals.

Except that I realized today, after months of working with Fiona on various forms of division, that I had never explained to her the derivation of the word, nor that it was a family neologism. She was just matter-of-fact calling it a gazinta bar, as easily as she might have called it a widget or a scuzzlewhit. When I explained that our liaison teacher wouldn’t have a clue what we were talking about if we used the term, and in fact that no one in the world outside our family would have any idea, she started laughing her head off. We googled it to be sure. Indeed, no relevent hits. This term is ours and ours alone.

Except that now we’ve both gone and blogged about it. So now all of you know.

The gazinta bar

7 thoughts on “The gazinta bar

  • November 22, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I love that. 🙂

    I was trying to think of what ours would be….the only one I could come up with (first thing in the morning) is “pooga”. My youngest could not pronounce the word “Pull-Up”, and so the word “pooga” has just stuck….it does sound funny in the grocery store to say out loud, “Hey, can you go over there and get a package of poogas for me?” 😀

  • November 22, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Did you ever watch the Beverly Hillbillies? Jethro frequently praticed his “gozintas,” and it took me years to catch on to the word play.

  • November 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

    oldest is working on long division and I am totally stealing your word =) He'll be tickled to learn the etymology of it

  • November 22, 2010 at 11:43 am

    This term is used in the Chemistry classes given by Frank Cardulla on the Teaching Company series. It's a great series of lectures and a handy term I might add:)

  • November 22, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    And what do those other neologisms mean??? 🙂

  • November 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Threehead explained here.

    Wobbits are in this post.

    Clape (noun): The stringy bits of cheese that form between pizza or another melted-cheese food and your mouth. “I really like these sandwiches, but I hate when the onions get stuck to the clape and you get something that looks like the world's ugliest strand of Christmas lights.”

    Agilitous (adj.): Making overwrought and somewhat ridiculous efforts to demonstrate physical prowess. From the root agile. “Kyle was so busy with his agilitous tree-climbing that he totally missed the discussion about going for dinner.”

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