Posted by: yoko | May 6, 2004

Words From Childhood 2.8

Today’s word: paga-chan

You won’t find paga-chan in any dictionary– it’s a word our family made up. It evolved from Japanese words, however, so here’s the etymology.

Kurukuru pa describes the gestures used to signify someone not quite right in the head. Pointing the index finger at one’s temple and drawing circles is the kurukuru— making a fist at the temple and opening one’s hand quickly like an explosion is the pa. In our family the affectionate nickname for someone who did or said something silly was pa-chan, derived from the gesture. (Remember that –chan denotes a diminutive, as in ne-chan.)

I don’t quite remember how it started, but one summer, a golf match from one of the Professional Golf Association tours was on TV, and the acronym PGA somehow became synonymous with pa-chan. We called each other P-G-A for a while, before someone, maybe one of my parents, pronounced it paga, which then became paga-chan.

I do remember the entire family laughing ourselves sick over this new word that we had created. It remained a family joke for years. It was one of those few moments that still stand out clearly in my mind where we really bonded as a family, and I still chuckle when I think back on it.


  1. kurukuru is making me think of cuckoo any connections?

  2. I like when a family makes up its own language.

  3. Peth– kurukuru does sound similar to cuckoo, but I don’t see a connection in the dictionary definitions. I think it refers more to the sound of something spinning.


%d bloggers like this: