October 16, 2006 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Is there a name for the gesture/vocalization that consists of flapping your finger up and down between your lips while making sound with your vocal cords? It comes out as something like "wawawawawawa" or "bababababa" and is often done by people as a way to entertain/communicate with babies.

My wife and I have been doing this with our six month old baby, and he's started doing it back. When I tried writing to my siblings about it, I realized that I didn't have a word for what we were doing. It's easy to demonstrate and everyone quickly knows what I'm talking about. But that makes it all the stranger that I don't know a word for what is apparently a very common human behavior.

I'd put this in the same family of things as a raspberry. Come to think of it, I don't know what those family of things would be called, either.
posted by alms to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In the absence of a real answer, I'd suggest you call it Bawitdaba. Kid Rock would be so touched...
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:33 AM on October 16, 2006

I would call it "strumming your lips", and according to Google, so would a few others.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:46 AM on October 16, 2006

Well, blowing a raspberry is a "linguolabial trill", so maybe a "phalageolabial trill"?
posted by murphy slaw at 8:47 AM on October 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Digital music.
posted by Rumple at 8:52 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]

"Lipscomb's Disease"
posted by La Cieca at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2006

I've always heard it referred to as blubbering.
posted by iconomy at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2006

While I can't trace the path down through kingdom, phylum, class, order, or family, perhaps we can start at the genus level and work upwards. It may be up to us to classify this creature. Given that we know of at least one fruit-themed labiolingual trill, I suggest we continue that pattern. Given the prominence of the B plosive phoneme, might I suggest we christen it the blueberry?

In the interest of consistency, the zerbert may need to be renamed and inserted into this taxonomy. Alternately, it might acutally qualify as the species to raspberry's genus given the similarity of sound. Thus, raspberry zerbert.

The blueberry is clearly of a different branch, both in terms of its sound and its use of manual-digital assistance.

Next on the list of species to classify and name are the fart noise made by grade school children by smooshing their palms flat against their mouths and blowing hard at the juncture, and its cousin the armpit-cupping, arm-cranking fart noise made by the same demographic.
posted by kookoobirdz at 8:55 AM on October 16, 2006 [2 favorites]

My mom and I always used to call it "blibber-blubber" or "going blibber-blubber."
posted by limeonaire at 9:00 AM on October 16, 2006

(Which, it seems, was also the name of the first bubble gum ever invented, when capitalized. And bubble gum is all about the lips.)
posted by limeonaire at 9:03 AM on October 16, 2006

I would vote for strumming your lips. Clear and descriptive and you can actually say it in adult company without felling like a moron.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:06 AM on October 16, 2006

Ah, but how often does it come up in adult company?! "So, there I was at the district sales meeting, strumming my lips at Bob as usual, and the vice president of marketing says..."

Blueberries are generally issued and referred to in juvenile-appropriate settings. Tally ho with the silliness, I say.
posted by kookoobirdz at 9:13 AM on October 16, 2006

while making sound with your vocal cords

I just wanted to mention, fyi, that anytime you make a sound, you're using your vocal cords (the vocal folds come together and vibrate to make any sound you make). So saying "while making a sound" means that you were using your vocal cords.
posted by scazza at 9:29 AM on October 16, 2006

Do you use your vocal cords when whistling?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:42 AM on October 16, 2006

So saying "while making a sound" means that you were using your vocal cords.

Well, not if you are making the sound of one hand clapping, or, say, the sound of your moustache hairs scraping against the scab on your finger, or armpit farts.

posted by xueexueg at 9:51 AM on October 16, 2006

I can also make several noises with just my tongue.
posted by borkencode at 9:52 AM on October 16, 2006

Strumming lips makes me think of guitars, only in a very icky weird way, because really, they have no lips. In fact, it seems to me that if you said strumming the lips in the wrong company it might mean something else entirely.

I say just describe it, the way you did here. Some things don't have terms.

(great question)
posted by routergirl at 1:11 PM on October 16, 2006

OK, we haven't discovered a name for the thing I asked about, but between hot soup girl and routergirl we've invented a great new term for the kit-kat shuffle.
posted by alms at 2:08 PM on October 16, 2006

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