A lesson in languagePublished 7:54pm Wednesday, March 28, 2012
”On tap” this week is a lesson about language. Stick with me to the end and you’ll see where this is going.
The English language in the 21st century is changing with the advent of texting and Twitter. Many changes in language came about in the 1970s with advent of the CB radio and the language of the truckers.
Now there is a new kind of shorthand and slang. Most of slang is an idiom, which is an expression that means something other than the literal meaning of its individual words.
For example, I used the idiom “On tap” at the beginning of this article. It is not the literal meaning of the words but refers to “available or ready to be used.”
Recently I heard the words “good day” spoken as a farewell. When was the last time anyone said “good day” to you? You hear is nearly every day but with these words added to it, “have a good day,” “have a good one” or “have a nice day.” These words are used metaphorically and are synonymous with the parting phrase “goodbye.”
Here are some other idioms that I have heard lately: “Keeping company,” meaning to go places together as a couple, or “ bend an elbow,” meaning drinking a beverage together from which comes the expression “on a bender,” usually associated with alcoholic drinking.
Are these idioms or not? Another form of shorthand is the use of grawlixes. They are a series of typographical symbols (such as @#*&!) used in cartoons and comic strips to represent nonspecific swear words or phrases.
Anders Nilsen said, “Swear words have a certain place and a certain power. If we allow them to go everywhere it robs them of their power. It is important that they remain taboo and we use this weird shorthand for them.”
Swear words or the raunchier side of language have been around for a very long time. In the Victorian era profanity was frowned upon in polite society. Today, profanity has become a part of common language — in movies, on TV and in polite society.
Have computers and cell phones contributed to this new way of speaking? Now commonplace words can be put into this new shorthand and sent off with no consequences.
All I’m saying is “Good day @#$%&.”