Sunday, July 20, 2008

Malapropisms II and Youthemisms

In the last week of school (before the holiday break), students in my class presented their Inquiry findings (independent research conducted over 6 or so weeks). One of my most intellectual and confident students was discussing the Huns with a sophisticated series of animations projected beside him. I had few requirements for these presentations, in terms of coverage, but one request was that they describe the type of government (or lack of) that existed in their chosen ancient civilisation. This student explained, with the carriage of someone much older than 12 years, that after Attila’s death, there was a “scrabble for power”. I smirked briefly, then continued to make notes and provide regular, smiling eyes in his direction to assure him he was doing a marvellous job. What a fabulous malapropism. Dee-lightful.

This week, I have also been taking pleasure in what I like to call “youthemisms”. I’m sure some formal name for these types of words has already been coined and used in many-a-circle I do not move in. Perhaps “common vernacular” or “street-speak”? All I know is, the term “colloquial” does not serve well enough – as this might describe the informal language of any age just as well. I choose “youthemisms”.

Youthemisms are those terms with which most have fast become familiar, but nevertheless their actual use is limited to younger generations. Hearing these youthemisms bouncing around conversation where one might expect them is not the source of my amusement; rather, it is when one doesn’t expect them, that I am utterly gleeful.

The most recent youthemisms to have sweetly startled me:

  • PDA
  • Emo
  • Metro
  • Sick (being used as a positive descriptor), and
  • Gutted (to express disappointment)

Again, it is not in the hearing that I experience this glee, but in who is speaking. The unusual suspects are over 40, well-spoken, and all seem to execute the delivery of a youthemism in like fashion; before the youthemism is uttered, there is a deliberate pause, (as though the word is going to cause “quite a ruckus”), and then the youthemism tumbles off the mature tongue as though a name for the “private parts” of the human anatomy. The word is also said slowly, as though it is being tested out much like you would a dinghy – with all-at-once uncertain and daring toes, seeking to gain balance before proceeding. I always want to sit up straight and applaud the speaker – for I feel he/she has accomplished quite a feat in trying a word on for size. But instead, a similar smirk to that of my malapropism-noting self flashes on my face, and then I endeavour to concentrate on hearing the next sentence – else I risk missing a spoonerism or some other precious audio-morsel!

Glossary for those with independent vocabulary (Fancy my euphemism?):

  • PDA – stands for “Public Display of Affection”, most often with negative connotations.
  • Emo – a controversial term short for “emotional” which may refer to a sub-genre of hard-core punk music OR, as slang, to those who conscribe to a particular lifestyle.
  • Metro – a label sometimes given to an effeminate male who is not homosexual.
  • Sick – means “good” (apparently). This is one of the words I gag at. It’s not ironic, it’s stupid.
  • Gutted – synonymous with “intense disappointment”, this one invokes seriously twisted imagery for me.
Related Posts with Thumbnails