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Butzen
March 10th, 2012 by mike

Anyone that has known me long enough knows that I can be encyclopaedic about unnecessary and useless facts and this post is no different.

 

For all of my life, there has been a family word to describe a baby’s binky and I fear that with the passing of time, that these familial things will eventually pass away as new generations that are unconcerned about tradition only have the faint glimmer of a memory that is deemed unimportant.

 

In our family, the word originated with my great grandfather, Christian Habersack. He immigrated to the US at 16 years old from Lieblos (now Gruendau) Germany in 1896. He was apparently industrious enough that he owned a tavern in Baltimore on Eastern and Eaton street and had time to be one of the founding members of Evangelical United Brethern Church on Gough Street only a few blocks away. The earliest picture I have of this inside of his tavern – and him – is 1910, which means that he had established his business by the time he was 30 years old. He raised four daughters and a son and is the namesake of my youngest. By the way, he came to this country and learned the language because that was how you became successful, but that is another discussion for another time…

 

Back to the binky… occasionally when the thought passes into my mind, I’ve looked online to see what the etymology of the word may be in German or English to no avail. Seems that I have spelled it incorrectly for all of these years. The word is a dialect word and they are always more difficult to hunt down. In German, the word to “kiss” is küssen and the pronunciation would have the same inflection as the English word “cook”, but the dialect word for the same act is “bützen “ which is exactly the word that our family has used for a “Binky” or baby’s pacifier. It makes complete sense for someone coming to this country to use a word familiar to them to describe something that Germans may have been at a loss for words on and what do we do most to babies? Give them kisses!

 

In summary, after taking German for four years, Latin and Greek each for one year, this is about the best that I can do with time and money well wasted. If there is a family tradition, word, or anything else, think long and hard before you discard it because this is what makes us all individual.


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