@Ginger Yellow: but isn't caca a baby-talk word for shit? It's the "butt call" bit that puzzled me. Urban Dictionary defines it as "An unintended cell-phone call made by sitting on the speed dial buttons" – alright, that makes sense, but it doesn't seem to fit the theme of words/idioms that sound scatalogical or sexual, but which have etymologies that are entirely innocent of such matters.
(1) Yes, but why emphasize just one part of one of the great "sounds dirty but isn't" words?
(2) I'm glad you looked up "butt call" — it was confusing me, too. Like you, I don't understand why it's here, since it's not like the other expressions, that simply sound vaguely "dirty" — "butt" is actually being used as a slang term for buttocks.
Because the "caca" is emphasized instead of the "titi", I think the commonality of these phrases is that they are all supposed to be related to defecation. The weird one is penal colony which most people would assume is supposed to be glossed as "penile colony", but I think we are supposed to be reading it as "penal colon-y".
@William, or maybe it's more words associated with going to the bathroom of either variety. If the artist/author expects us to get "colon" out of "colony", well, I think that's a fail, since the words sound nothing alike — very different vowels in the first syllable, and different L's too. Or are those words more alike in some varieties of English?
I'm with Robert. I think it is seriously over-analyzing to expect a 9-year-old and a 3 or 4 year old (Max only started /speaking/ within the last couple of years, and hasn't yet started school) to be selecting their words for whether they are, or are not, real words unrelated to scatological or anatomical features. Mind you, I understand the temptation for this group to do so. . .
On the other hand, come to think of it–they have some impressive vocabulary for their age!
Caca is a childish Spanish word – poopoo would probably be the best English translation. Maybe the characters are meant to be of Hispanic descent, or to have close friends who speak Spanish. It would be curious otherwise for the small boy to have heard of Titicaca.
I usually think of the Geographical Fugue when I hear "Titicaca" (I didn't know what it was called, or that it was by a serious composer, until I looked it up): not naughty, but definitely based on sound values rather than meaning.
"Caca" may be a childish word in some modern languages, but it is an old Indo-European word. "Cac" is the standard word in modern Irish. From Greek it gives us words like "cacophony". It is found in Latin and also in Germanic languages. For example, we get "poppycock" from Dutch.
I teach English to elementary school kids in Korea. Every so often, an innocuous English word strikes the kids as naughty and hilarious. Once, when I was teaching sixth grade students the word "bucket," a whole bunch of boys in the class started laughing raucously. Apparently (since Korean speakers cannot easily hear the difference between /f/ and /p/, and sometimes /b/), "bucket" sounds like "fuckit". They kept repeating, "bucket! BUCK YOU!" I had to struggle to maintain a serious teacher face at that moment.
Kids do know about Lake Titicaca. I remember being no more than 8 years old (before July 1969, because we moved to a different house after that) and watching a National Geographic special that mentioned Lake Titicaca — my brothers and I seized on that word, and I bet it's the only part of the show that made it into my memory. Unlike the comic strip kid, we emphasized the Titi, since "caca" wasn't in our argot yet (although I don't think it's an exclusively Hispanic term — I know plenty of Anglos who grew up saying "caca"). We imagined the naughty circumstances that would allow license to say an otherwise forbidden word, in this mostly whispered stentence: "Let's go to Lake TITIcaca." I distinctly remember my mom calling "I don't like that" from two rooms away after probably hearing an isolated screaming of the word "tittie."
I can't tell which pronunciation of Uranus you're referring to.
Back in the 70's when my sister started teaching science (in New Jersey), teachers had just changed from saying URINE-ess because of all the giggles, to ur-Aness because it was a more innocent time and "anus" wasn't on the kids' radar. Bet all the teachers wish they had stuck with the earlier giggles.
Huh–the "anus" pronunciation was the only one I ever heard as a kid. I didn't hear the "urine" version until much later (was it Carl Sagan in Cosmos perhaps?). So my memory of the chronology is the exact opposite of SharonZ's.
I'm with Rod. The anus way ought to be the traditional way (cf. angina), and I suspect the urine way was invented to avoid that. The anus joke appears in the movie E.T. in 1982, btw, so it's at least that old.