Friday, February 10, 2012

Five Language Observations

Before I was a librarian, I was a language geek, specifically a linguistics major. Today I bring you five things on a friday, five language notes.

  1. Bitchin'
    This is apparently back as teen slang, at least in Anchorage. I waited until I heard 3 teens say it in one week before making that declaration on twitter a few weeks ago. I hear it at least that often if not more now.

  2. Awesome possum, cool beans
    Things I say on a regular basis that make me sound like a character on a 50s sitcom. I don't care. Awesome possum and cool beans are fun, happy, cheerful words to say, and I'm not giving them up.

  3. Circulation, discharge
    Words we use all the time in the library field that have limited meaning to the rest of the world. Staff tells patrons to go to the circulation desk or that their materials have not been discharged and they get blank look. Check out desk. Checked in books. And there are a lot more examples. Don't force people to learn our jargon to use our services.

  4. Redemption, repent, lamb of God
    Words we use all the time at church that have limited meaning to to the rest of the world. How easy is it to be new to a church or a faith and not really understand most of what is being said? You redeem coupons and vouchers, what does that have to do with the guy on the cross? When was the last time you heard repent outside of the church? And lamb of God makes no sense without an explanation of traditional Jewish rites. There are a bunch of other words like this, these are those that come to mind right now. Why are we creating a language barrier between those with a lifetime's worth of church background and those who lack that vocabulary?

  5. Adult movies, adult books
    Words that mean something very different outside the library. I am so used to the "adult movie" section at the library which is basically every feature film not geared for kids under 10. I blithely (and naively) wondered into the adult movie section of a video rental store a few years ago reading titles outloud to my friend a few rows behind me. She was laughing uproariously (she's known me long enough to know how my mind works), but I really embarassed the two gentlemen who were browsing in that section. And myself.

1 comment:

Jill said...

I agree that people should use language that others understand, but I also think others should be allowed to learn new terminology. I don't see any reason for a person who is differently educated from another to go through contortions in order to use vocabulary devoid of certain words. I think one should use the appropriate words, but provide context, so that the other can learn what those words mean. I think to do otherwise carries the connotation of insulting the listener's intelligence.