Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You Got a Double Sided Lexicon

Much like the infamous Legally Blonde quote when Elle is making her Harvard Law admissions video:
“I’m comfortable using legal jargon in every day life. [hears whistling], I object!”,
I have found that on many occasions lines, titles from songs or popular catch phrases come tumbling out of my mouth before I have a chance to stop myself.

This morning my Aunt mentioned that her body clock is out of whack due to a couple reasons. There was the daylight savings time change last weekend and that would not be so bad on its own but she is also a nurse who has been working some overnight shifts of late. When I was responding to her musing I asked “When is your next day off that you can just sleep all day?” It flowed so well, so easy to type. I was hitting the comment button before it even registered what I was saying but this got me thinking yet again about pop culture and the influence it has on our speech.

(Is there a support group called “People who like using titles of Jason Mraz songs in everyday speech”? Perhaps I should start one. I guarantee I could recruit this cool chic. Probably this one, or this one too. And I am quite sure there are others lurking out there.)

But I digress…

I have written about this before, last year when my five year old nephew called me Auntielicious I decided to delve into this very topic. Now I want to know, where does it end? Is there no stopping us?

Over the past week I have seen more Axe hair product commercials using the latest catch word “gelmet” than I care to admit. The word means a hairdo that is so over gelled it is sticky-shiny looking, hard and will not move, much like a helmet. The word is so new and hip that MS Word is telling me it is misspelled and suggesting I go with ‘gimlet’ instead. Perhaps Word should automatically link up with the Urban Dictionary since words are turning over so fast and furious that they will send a new one to your Inbox daily if you choose to sign up. Yes, daily; 365 new pop culture words a year to further dumb down society.

Cover songs, the twelve installments of the Friday the 13th movies, leg warmers, yoga, song sampling and an ever growing list of revived things prompts me to ask if anyone has an original thought or idea these days? Words and phrases that are here one day and gone the next, only to be revived when it is appropriate to go “old school”. Geez, even old school is old school now. What are the kids saying these days; I can not seem to keep up.

I pride myself on being original -- a person who does what she wants, writes what she wants, thinks how she wants -- but how much of me is actually unique when I find myself uttering pop culture crap all over the place so often? Have I fallen victim to the mass media marketing vehicle and become another of its unsuspecting cult members or do I simply use available jargon to emphasize my own, distinctive points?

In order to stay true to myself and continue to develop the not so usual personality inside, I have been writing a lot of poetry lately. I read David’s blog the other day and he mentioned something similar which made me smile knowing all of us writers tend to go through cycles. I like the prose cycle, it helps me work out a lot of the questions that bounce around the corners of my brain in the fewest possible words. In case anyone missed it, I tend to be fairly loquacious most of the time so poetry is my way of describing in a couple hundred words what would have taken me 2000 when written as a story. And it is a rare thing indeed to find even one word of slang in my prose. How do you like them apples?

So in the spirit of my resurgence of poetic proclivity I am assembling a book of the stuff. To really make the project unique I have asked my Mom to share some of her photography so we are going to be going at this project together. Her photos will inspire my words and vice versa. I have a lot of projects going on in the realm of words these days from this blog to Green Leaf Reviewer to a very character driven novel that is ambling along nicely but this collective of the visual world as seen through my Mom’s pictorial eye and my take on the world as read in verbiage is probably the most exciting project I have worked on in many years.

And not a single hint of pop lingo will be present.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it.


spottedwolf said...

AAAAAAhhhhhhhh Jenny.....

5 yr old "Auntielicious" ?? If ever a word needs to be enshrined, this is a 'primo' example... (excuse the genre-ational old school) LOL...

Suz and I are laughing our 'assets' off.

Your spirit is a breath each time I come calling !!

Bree said...

Chillax, home skillet! Wizzle pop culture slang, youz can has cheezburgers and flying spaghetti monsters! haha

Helen said...

I love 'gelmet' (laughing now.) Good luck with your writing project.

pastrywitch said...

I like gelmet too, but the entire Axe line has got to go. Why can't people just bathe? Gimlet is also a good, sadly underused word. Both a pointy object for making holes and a rather tasty cocktail....mmmm, vodka or gin, sweetened lime juice, optional club soda...must dash, darling :)

Karen said...

How nice that you'll be working with your Mom. We'll look for your creative ways in days to come :) I use to work with a woman who had (and still does have, I presume) a HUGE, I'm talking HUGE bosom. We were all discussing one day what one word described us. One of the other women said that the one word to describe her was "Dollypartinicious". It stuck, she thought it was perfect and that's how we described her from that day on.

ginger said...

that's phat! ;)
i often think, as i'm typing one of those little winking smiley faces, that i have to figure out how to keep your attention and have to write using less emoticons. in other words, you could totally recruit me for that support group.
and here's a funny thing: i was just over at the mrazdom and left him a comment that ever since he had the mrazda, i've always referred to all mazdas as mrazdas because it just stuck.
now you post this shiz yo.

i applaud your freedom from slang and pop culture phrases that slowly butcher the standard english dictionary and i can not WAIT to read all of your published works, prose, poems, novels...and what have you, but i am a bonafide lover of slang and the like and use it whenever i find opportunity. i guess that makes me a word play whore. listen closely to the verse i lay...down.

Chris Stone said...

Smokin'! lol. that sounds like a great project... collaborating with your mother. Can't wait to see it!

i enjoyed legally blonde.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I must be totally clear friends, in day to day spoken word I am a movie quoter, over-used word lover and pop culture reference guru but when I write for publish (even the blog) I have to abide my the rules my Lit professor taught in that jargon should be kept to the barest of minimums and only used to punctuate, yo.

Dave King said...

"Auntielicious" takes the priz so far as I'm concerned - whether the 5 yr old made it up or had heard it makes no difference: it was used appropriately, that's the telling factor.

Bridgete said...

Haha, Ginger and I think of the same line when we write emoticons. Yeah, sign me up for the support group. ;)

I really don't use slang much anymore. I quote movies and songs occasionally, but most of my conversations are more legally based (I'm comfortable using legal jargon in everyday life too! haha...) so they don't often lend themselves to quotes. Although I was quoting Legally Blonde yesterday.

spottedwolf said...

Jenn, in view of this 'wordsmith' hoopla......................I must mention all the times we've all wondered how certain words came to mean certain things.....with that said it turns my mind to whether or not a word such as 'ex..tra..pola..ted' or some other invention in modern English received its 'crowning' around a coffee table of intellectual 'crowing' as a buzz-word....Hey Hey Hey and here I'm thinkin' how smaht I is whilst somewhere else in la-la land there will exist literature with all this its context. Gawd hep me as I is gittin' feeble !!

Maggie May said...

i'm smoking it! i'm smoking it!

i use flippy retorts as a living.

Suldog said...

My least favorite new phrase is "manstink" from Old Spice commercials. I've used the stuff for over 30 years, but I don't think I'll buy it again.

Rosebud Collection said...

Crap, I use every kind of lingo you can think of..even make up a few..Yes, my girls tell me, they have never heard of some of my sayings..Always asking them if they have any "chitters" to tell me..some I won't print..Yes Jenn, I do get carried away and frighten myself..
Hey, I want you to check out this web it might be interesting..I don't know how I found this address, but that is nothing new with me..Kids call me "button birdie"..Anyway, you might know this web page..worth a look..Have a good weekend..

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Manstink? OK they are clearly trying to compete with Axe but it is all just getting out of hand now!

Hey Rose thanks for that link, the site sounds very interesting, I'll research it a little more today to see if it would work for what my mom & I want to do. If not maybe just for another project down the line. Thanks!

TheresaJ said...

Awww, I love auntilicious!

I tend to chop words/phrases in half when I'm talking. Drives my kids nuts. It recently got me into trouble when I asked a male coworker, who appeared to be suffering from a horrible hangover, if he was "hung." He looked at me really strangely and then every guy in the room started laughing hysterically. He then assured me that he was. Crazy thing is that I didn't get my faux pas right away, but when I did, I turned every shade of red and couldn't stop giggling all day. I've made a mental note to self to never chop that one again!

coffee maker said...

the Urban Dictionary is a source of not only useful information but also hour upon hour of entertainment

Mandy Burbank said...

I just found your random blog randomly and LOVED this! can I join the support group? I know you'll like this. I write real poetry, but this is a little joke you will most likely appreciate! Sorry it's so long for a comment, but I can't resist!
"you’re the best"

It would have been much more fun to watch you play at the "gratitude café"
Or maybe sitting kriskross applesauce on my neutral patterned carpet
With your guitar bouncing in your lap and your "hat" hung on the back of a chair since I don’t own a hatstand.

But I know if you heard me complain you’d ask "if I got your message,"
… which I did
Of course the café is a state of mind
And the crawfish boil was "a beautiful mess"
The acrid smells of vomit and dismembered crawfish carcasses mixed with the sometimes sweet sometimes asthma-inducing scents of cigarettes and sweat were the "details in the fabric."

I get it
And I feel very" lucky" to have sung like a "geek"
Like a crazed fan howling with you
A pack of "coyotes" worshiping the bright broken moon half
"Bella luna" shining on the occasion
that hot May-in-Alabama night

It would have been nice to have been close enough for you to see the "flower in my hair"
But we weren’t there for you, we were there because of how you make us feel
Last night I felt like a tie-dyed"butterfly"
Though I know some (I won’t name names)called me a pink and purple zebra
A part of the pack, an animal,
But isn’t being mesmerized and transported by beautiful "wordplay" part of what makes us
And music magic
You’re a magician and not the smoke and mirrors "wizard of oz" kind despite what you might think

My husband worries that I’m having a musical affair and maybe he’s right
because I think "you’re the best."

Ps- I hope you don’t mind I "stole" a few lines while trying to describe a "mighty high" moment in my 31 years of life. Jason, you have my ""gratitude". Keep creating. Keep searching and dreaming. I hope you find what you are looking for.