Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Hard Out There for a Slang Expert

I guess JBW's bailed out on AmPow, or, well, at least since I dissed him as the "SpongeBob of 'Sophisticated' Political Analysis."

Hey, nah. My bad. JBW's cool — or at least not a 24/7 ASFL (and you gotta love this Photoshop!). Not only that, he keeps me honest on the slang, so I'm sending this out to my homie James B. "Sweet Tits" Webb. At Wall Street Journal, "As Slang Changes More Rapidly, Expert Has to Watch His Language":

BERKELEY, Calif. — Tom Dalzell was thrilled last month when he came across a weird new verb: "rickroll."

Then he went online and saw that "rickrolling"—the Internet prank that involves sending someone a link to the music video for Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up"—has been around for four years. That's an eon in the world of slang, enough time to render a term stale.

For most people, being late to a language trend isn't a problem. But Mr. Dalzell, a 59-year-old union leader by day and slang expert after hours, is now in the process of updating the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. And as informal language evolves faster than ever, Mr. Dalzell is finding it trickier to keep up.

"Yesterday's cutting-edge is today's ho-hum," he says.

The problem: Slang is born when groups outside the mainstream invent their own language—verbal code that can quickly lose its punch once others catch on. That process used to take a while. But now that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter let people post messages for anyone to see, slang gets exposed much more quickly.

"It's really shortened the shelf life," says Mr. Dalzell, who is considered to be a real "big noise," or a very important person, among word whizzes like Jesse Sheidlower, editor-at-large at the Oxford English Dictionary.
More at the link.



JBW said...

You bore me, Don. I'll contact you after the next presidential election to settle our bet. Stay gold.

AmPowerBlog said...

Whoo hoo!!

JBW in da house!! My man!!