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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

Mon crayon est longe et jaune

My entire academic acquaintanceship with linguistics comes in the form of having been an anthropology and english double major (who left college with some grad credits, but without a degree--yes, I'm one of those people), and who thus could not avoid taking certain courses on language. (The worst of these was a 100's-level linguistics course that I stopped attending after four weeks and managed to pull out a better grade than a friend who went to class--the class was actually successful in removing knowledge from the human brain. The best of these was The History of English [The textbooks were C.M. Millward's wonderful A Biography of the English Language and Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer]: I walked away from that one with a working knowledge of OE that allows me to claim it as one of the three languages that I've clean forgotten [the other two are German and French; I've also forgotten katakana, pidgin Spanglish, and the Cyrillic alphabet, and hope someday to add Russian to the list of languages I've forgotten: that seems like a good lifetime goal. {I can, however, still say "Ich habe...kopfschmertzen" in exactly the intonation of the language lab tapes. Astounding what we retain.}])

And I bet you never thought I was gonna get out of those brackets with all my limbs intact.

But I digress.

Anyway, now that I've established my complete lack of credentials to talk about language, I want to talk about linguistic playfullness, and one of the cooler types of linguistic adaptation that I'm witnessing going on as we speak. There's a grand tradition of emphasis in language being denoted through playful misuse and mispronunciation of words--"yer feets too big" "accent on the wrong sylahbul" and so forth--and it's very interesting, to me, to watch that being translated to the chiefly-written communication patterns of teh interweb, as it were.

It's fascinating to watch as this style of communication evolves, as people discover ways of indicating emphasis and emotion, of broadening the level of information available for parsing through the critically limited interface of text. It's a little humbling, too--from the cheerful misappropriation of hakspek and its intentional opacities to the repurposing of careless typos (teh hott!!!1!!!1) and intentional mis-spellings (weerd!)--it's deeply gratifying for me, at least, to watch human adaptability in action.

It's not *new,* by any means, this kind of playfullness ("We have met the enemy and he is us," after all, and there are some pretty terrible puns in Chaucer), but it's new, I think, the level of semantic packing that we're learning to incorporate in--typewritten!--textual communication. There's an odd level on which it makes me think of calligraphy as high art, especially in the Chinese tradition--but on a much more practical level.

We is the talking animal, baybie. And people is neat.


Mon crayon est longe et jaune

That's from the movie "Gotcha," right? I'm flashing back to a young Anthony Edwards practicing his French so he can pick up women. :-)

who left college with some grad credits, but without a degree--yes, I'm one of those people

I'm one of those people, too, except that I have two (and a half) degrees. I finished my B.A. with about 50 more credit hours than I actually needed and still didn't take every class I wanted and finished my M.A. with about 15 extra credit hours (it was only a one year 45-hour program but I ended up with 60) and didn't take every class I wanted.

I've forgotten Italian, Russian and most of my French, except for some random phrases that I had to use in skits like "Mangiamo solo fruita por la prima colazione" (We eat only fruit for breakfast) and "Scusi! Mi mancha my forketta!" (Excuse me! My fork is missing!"). Not having a cyrillic keyboard, I can't type the remaining fragments of Russian I remember but they're equally as silly.
Actually, it's from a language lab tape. I've never seen the movie to which you refer. *g*

*g* If you have a degree, you're not a promising failure, m'friend. That's reserved for those of us with student loans and nothing to show with it!
I get some interestingly-spelt emails from my teenaged niece...
It doesn't count unless you're doing it on purpose, though....
No degree here, either.

The only language I've forgotten is Latin, at which I was once upon a time (in high school, about a hundred years ago) good enough to win a silver pin in a national Latin competition.

Since my oldest and youngest kids got me onto AIM, I M writing funny 2, k?
{I can, however, still say "Ich habe...kopfschmertzen" in exactly the intonation of the language lab tapes. Astounding what we retain.}

Hey, I can still say "Zvaneet telefon!" in exaxtly the intonation of the language lab tapes so I know just what you mean. :)

And yes, it is interesting to watch people play with language-- as long as they are not doing it in their fiction. :-)

(Who me, a snob? That's a big 10-4.)(Dating self)
Hey, I'm all for linguistic playfullness in fiction, as well. As long as the player knows what s/he is doing....

tooting my own stuff, sorry...

I wrote my diss in linguistics on speech in an online virtual community. About half of it is ethnographic/sociolinguistic details on the community and their language play (all textual), and half is harder core linguistics. If you're interested (warning, it's slightly dense in some chapters), it's called "Conversation and Community: Chat in a Virtual World" and it's on Amazon. :-)

Re: tooting my own stuff, sorry...

Sounds like an interesting topic!
I think my favorite is "EVAL" for evil.
I use "eVILE!" *g*
I've been playing with netspeak in the narration (and sometimes dialog) of a tight 3rd person young adult novel. Oddly, the effect, to my eye, is rather like Alfred Bester's typographic tricks. I'm considering, when I take up the project for real going all out.

Because, after all, the boy Roxy sees is TEH HAWT!!1!

you get some of that in Joss Whedon's stuff, too--his characters talk like they're typing, frankly. *g*
It's rather cool to see you posting on this topic, as I was discussing the repurposing of typos last week or so with a friend (the example being "teh cute" and applied to my kittens, of course). I've seen things like this going on for a while now online; I'm waiting for the time when it crosses into speech. It would be fascinating to see linguistic developments that are textually based in origin shift into oral modes as well.
heee. See last rock.

Actually, we had a recent chatroom incident of repurposed typo-- "kjittens!"

pronounced "kyittins" of course, and approximately three times cuter than mere "kittens."
You are hella smart, you know that? This is true, and very interesting, and also hopeful.

I loved linguistics, though. I suck at languages other than English -- I have failed to speak Hebrew and French and forgotten all my Latin so far -- but linguistics was like human assembly language. Ooh neat, there's a layer underneath.

What is a kopfschmertzen? Inquiring minds want to know.
literally, "head-hurting." A headache. *g*
It's fascinating, but frustrating too lol. Every time I see one of those numeric, alphabetical hyroglyphs masquerading as English on a phone screen, my poor literal brain freezes for seconds as it works out the actual word implied. I feel like a Japanese tourist half the time lol.

And don't you ever get tired of hearing the C word? I hope not. Congratulations on your latest Scifi.com sales. Youse in the big leagues now, girl. ::Grin::
Thankyew. *g*

I'm not actually talking aout the shorthand code used for instant messaging on obnoxious keypads--that's an even ore specialized dialect of text--but the sort of things people use in livejournals and emails to indicate emotion.

Like the examples in the original, and like this little guy:


You're so dang smart. Had I posted an equivalent musing, it would have looked something like this: Dude, talking on the internet is, like, becoming it's own language.


Re: ah yes the classics

and the q-word. *g*
Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer
Oh neat. I took a class in Old English -- about half literature and half-language class. Can't find the textbook offhand, but the class concluded by reading some passages from Beowulf in the original.

Cool language, also forgotten thru disuse.
Kewl post!

Language evolution makes me laugh and cringe, alternately...