Saturday, December 06, 2008

Personal slanguage

Every person and every family has personalized slang, words with meanings that might be easy to figure out- for example, when Ginj and I are about to do something incredibly decadent, we toast, "A Versailles"- or totally unrelated to what the world at large might have thought the word to mean. An example of that category is talking about a concept being "viral"- When I say it, I mean this:

1 comment:

ogre said...

I think that's the same (almost the same?) as an idiolect. It's interesting to see those slip from personal to familial (or at least shared with only a very small handful of others--family or close friends...), to flirting with being something larger.

And as they do so, they develop new nuances and their meanings slip. There are, for example, a couple of endearances that my wife and I use (one a severe elision of a common phrase, another is onomatopoeia that only makes sense along a multi-step experience). But our kids have heard them. And they've adopted them at least far enough to express affection to their mother--shift of nuance.

Then there are the slips of the tongue that are memorable enough that they get retained and re-used--and sometimes they get into the wild.

I was stunned a few years ago to see someone I didn't know at all use the term "greep" (in the same way I and some friends use it). I thought it was a term in use only among a small handful of friends. Yet I couldn't figure out how this person connected to the few who I knew used it and/or were present when it developed a meaning.