Friday, April 17, 2009

Linguisticalism... and the NBA playoffs

So, Mi Sun and I were talking today about the ridiculousness of spoken, idiomatic, actually-used English phrases. Why, she demands, do we have 25 different phrases for "I agree"!? Or "Let's leave"? I mean, really, what is the point of that?

Why should she have to learn to recognize bounce, roll, head, jet, hit it, bail, skedaddle, get, scoot, run, skip, and the list goes on? And even worse... damn straight, right on, for sure, fuckin' a, totally, you bet, for real, i know, that's what i'm sayin, preach on brotha, absolutely, giddy up, book it, i gotcha, no doubt, i hear that, i feel you, yeah yeah, uh-huh, got that right... I could go on, but you get the picture. Ya feel me?

I suggested that part of the reason for this proliferation of American slang might be due to our culture's value on individuality. Sure, we're saying the same thing that everyone else says most of the time, but if we can find a new way to say it, something that's not "played out" or stale, then we score those all-important "originality" or "uniqueness" points. And so, large numbers of phrases all carrying roughly the same meaning find their way into mainstream usage. Naturally, this helps keep our language fresh and flexible (or destroys its time-honored heritage, depending on whom you talk to) but it also makes it a nightmare for anyone studying English to have any hope of going out to a random bar in America and actually being able to follow the conversations taking place around them. Another factor might be our cultural xenophobia, our tendency to exclude anyone different: rapidly changing diction/idioms are a way to determine who's "in" our crowd, and who's an outsider. Related to this, of course, is that we also have a ready means of declaring our inclusion and position in a social group... i.e. we can talk the talk. And yeah, I realize how ridiculous it is that we require being seen as both "unique, beautiful snowflakes" and as part of the blizzard, but hey! the American heart wants what it wants, am I right? Damn skippy.

I compare this to the Korean language that I hear most of the day at work, and anytime I go out. Agreement takes one of 2 forms: Neh/Deh/Yea (yes -- all the same word, really, just with slight differences in pronunciation), and keu-re-o (that's right/is that right?) Also, when Koreans ask for confirmation of what was just said, again, you hear 2 questions: Chincha? (really?) and keu-re-o? (is that right?) They just don't seem to have the proliferation of slang/informal uses that we do, and it makes conversations a whole helluva lot easier to follow. I mean, come on... one more list of English nonsense, then I'm done: for real? no shit? seriously? no way! straight up? is that right? you don't say! come again? really?

Ok, that's enough of that bs. I have a really strange week coming up.

  1. Jill's leaving. =( Going to Bali for a few weeks to visit her dad, then heading back to the states. She's like, my best friend here, so that sucks. But Jill, if you're reading this, I know you'll be happier once you get out of here, so I wish you well! =) Thanks for the dinnerware and soap.
  2. I have 1 day of school classes, 2 days of Global Center classes, 2 days of after-school classes, and 1 day of special class. And they all fall on different days. So yeah, I do have to work six days next week. Boo. But, it's only 3 full days of work and 3 days of ~2 hours, plus I do get paid overtime for the Saturday hours and the after-school program, so Yea! =)
  3. I get to play in that tennis tourney next Wednesday! It's after school, so uh, no missing class. But... whoo-ee! Wish me luck -- I'll probably need it.
I guess that's it, as far as weirdness goes.

Also, my Cards beat the Cubbies yesterday at Wrigley, spoiling the Cubs' home opener. That feels good, I gotta say. On the other hand, the Blues lost their first playoff game and the Bullies somehow lost to the Toronto freaking Raptors, at home, on the last day of the season. Combine that with the Cav's somehow failing to set the all-time home wins record (while losing to the 6ers) and now, all of a sudden, we're playing the Celtics in the 1st round instead of the struggling Magic. Boo. Although KG is hurt, I don't think that'll help much in the grand scheme of things. They've still got the Truth and Ray-Ray, not to mention Rondo, Powe, Big Baby, and that solid bench. I'm not feeling nearly as good about this. Seriously, Bulls, you lost at home to Toronto. You deserve what you get from here on out. Go Cards! Blow Cubs blow!

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