This post is lovingly dedicated to Because Internet - linguist Gretchen McCulloch's egalitarian examination of how the internet has opened up informal language.
It's the perfect response to my previous blog ("edited!").
McCulloch: "But now that we can think of language like the internet, it's clear that there is space for innovation, space for many Englishes and many other languages besides, space for linguistic playfulness and creativity. There's space, in this glorious linguistic web, for you."
Some things haven’t changed. Teens always did and still need places to hang out and talk in jargon their parents can’t understand. And formal prose still exists - online - just as post cards and fridge notes have always been informal. What’s different is how much more we write informally in the Chat Age.
Now, I wrote this thinking with a blue pen. Formal writing allows for leisurely sentence-craft extracted from blobs of doodles. Like our meme-making cousins, we scattergram ponderers too post playfulll.
Gretchen and I agree about the river of life. Since school kids first coded slang in ancient classrooms, people have been making up alternative terms. Recent precedents include James Joyce and e.e. cummings. The primary guarantee on the elasticity of phrasing is how oral language predates written by thousands of years!
Here's an excerpt from a Savlove dictionary draft collected a few years ago, possibly to post. Some of these - the jokier ones - make their cyber-space debut:
rejectivity - when objectivity won't do and subjectivity is just too too ….. opt for rejectivity.
noviyolo - listlessness, depression, caught on a string
ip - unisexual gender pronoun to personalize “it” while smoothing clumsy “he/she”. Other uses follow. “I feel ip.” The sensation is still an It, but the sentiment is more sublime than “I feel it”.
matriot - someone who values his or her body before his or her country
text-maskers - these are people who have appropriated the limited world of texting to pretend they care. Chats with them (often friends one used to be closer to) turn out to be disingenuous, detached, and constantly interpreted to suit the other person's ego.
UIH - Unintentional hypocrite.
wavarticle - is it a wave? Or is it a particle? Let's resolve this quantum discussion once and for all and call it a wavarticle.
ecstaticist - the ultra-reverse of terrorist. Imagine the Embassy swarmed by thousands of dancing, singing, touching individuals, an en masse demonstration of dazzling bliss. Impossible to shoot them all down. "We won't stop until we've hoisted the flag of the Cosmic Giggle!” The reality is more like ecstaticist cells …. small pockets of truly happy people quietly, benevolently turning others on to unflappable good will.
word spouses use when they're sick of marriage - monughamy
reconnoshea - surrendering to non-action as the best choice although you would care enough to take some
monmonteum - the momentum of good things once they become unstoppable. “Snowballing”, “downward spiral”, “steamroller”, “barnstorm”, “sadly inevitable” - they all have negative connotations, even objective ones because the context is so often a doom. Monmonteum is all about spiraling behavior - and one day even social movements! - that compound the positivity.
Postromantic - term I coined for my 1998 essay about where society is at psychosexually. I took it from Paul Nelson, who coined in it twenty years earlier in his review of Neil Young’s American Stars & Bars for Rolling Stone.
Matriot and postromantic are the two words here that come up in other new vocabularies, but matriot is expansive, a natural, a feast of meanings. Postromantic is still pretty much for English Literature degree candidates. Naturally monmonteum is the one I want to see go viral.
But ip was the most forward thinking of them all. Since coming up with that one in 2003, we have seen scores of new gender identification words. P’s relationship with “psi” was the original inspiration. By now I’ve come to see that the “p” in ip stands for person.
An ultimate question the optimistic Gretchen McCulloch is getting to is: How much can humanity change on the wings of these “democratizing” new communications systems while some human traits are apparently sure to remain consistent?
Leather bound journals are not forever, but neither are website forums. Now that Esoteric Online is down, all I have left from it are copied files and hand-written notes. Plus everything I learned. How much did I learn? The subtler question is, how much did I learn that truly improved my capacity to be a better person? All the intellectual accruing in the world will not teach that without the effort of self-examination.