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Bringing Sexy (Words) Back

28 July 201106:02PMlinguistics

Only multiple years late for a 'Bringing Sexy Back' joke, but I'm sure you'll let that slide, right?

Now, I'm the last one to be making 'Generation this' and 'Generation that' comments (mostly because the whole idea of generational traits is just stupid), but I'll make an exception here: This generation - which is to say, my generation - has really awful slang. I'm not talking swearing (everyone swears, and anyone who thinks it's just the young'uns who cuss too much has never heard a ninety-year-old reel of a string of swears as long as... well, something really long.), and I'm not talking internet abbreviations either. I'm talking about just plain ordinary conversation, and particularly expressives. There's just no range, no nuance, and no actual meaning behind a lot of them, and it doesn't help that the same few are used over, and over, and over.

Hence, why I've decided to make it My Hobby- actually, since I'm going to rip the title off xkcd, might as well go the whole way:

So here are a couple of my favourites. Most of these are guaranteed to get you at least one raised eyebrow, or your money back!

Spiffy is a good all-purpose word, which is easily hot-swappable for that perennial 1970s holdover, 'cool'. Useful in particular for describing something new or shiny. Speaking of shiny, there's nothing wrong with using actual adjectives. You know, ones that actually describe what you're talking about, like they did in the old days. Nifty is another one you can just drop in, though I tend to use it more to describe something, like a solution to a problem, which is particularly clever or neat, which is another great one to drop in there if you want to sound like a 70s 11-year-old.

Then you have your Doctor-Who-isms. Which is to say, whichever adjective the current Doctor is using. Tennant, if you'll recall, was rather partial to brilliant, and Eccleston was certainly not averse to liberal use of the word fantastic. Just don't put on a bad British accent and sound slightly manic while you're saying it, or people will cotton on to the fact that you're just nicking vocab off the telly.

If you want to get the Doctor Who sound without the blatant ripping-off, why not try these remarkably similar ones? That way, when they are invariably adopted by some new incarnation of the Doctor, you can legitimately claim that you were using it before it was cool, or as the kids have taken to saying, I gather, 'inb4 doctor who!!!1!!111one!'. You dirty hipster, you. Amazing, Excellent, Splendid, Marvellous and Wonderful fall under this category.

A pet peeve of mine is the misappropriation of the words 'epic' and 'awesome' to refer to things which are neither, thus leaving one with no means of expression when encountering a situation which is truly awe-inspiring. Which is not a problem, if you can apply magnificent to such an astonishing occurrence, or bring the overwhelming force of formidable to the table- which has the bilingual bonus of working in both English and French!

Right, so that's your positives covered. How about the negatives? Again, venturing beyond the generic 'crap' into more descriptive territory is encouraged. Dull, or even boring might work better for a crap lecture, insipid for a crap movie, and uninspired for a crap book. Even if you don't want to get specific, using the same word all the time is all of the above, so dredge out your terribles and give your horribles a good airing. That sounds a bit suggestive, actually. Maybe don't do that.

Finally, we have expletives. This is one that I've struggled with for a while, y'know, as a person. See, I tend to use 'Jesus Christ' as a generic exclamation of surprise, which I'm told is actually against some hokey religious ramblings in some old pamphlet*, and is thus offensive to Christian types, and that then has the knock-on effect of pissing me off because I'm not much of a one for religion and yet here I am shouting about Jesus. But the other day, I stumbled upon a solution: Blimey. It's fun to say, if you can resist the urge to tack a 'guv' on the end, and since it's actually short for 'gorblimey', which is a corruption of 'god blind me', you still get your illicit kicks from blaspheming without offending any Christians or sounding religious. It's perfect!

So that's my official guide to "Using Words Wot Aren't Cool, Sick, Or Crap". I hope you found it both instructive and informative!

Until next time, Your loving friendly amicable indifferent, sister uncle second cousin something.

*Exodus 20:7 - "Do not take the name of the Lord in vain"

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