Thursday, October 4, 2012

Building Vocab, Creating 'Verses

I think the first phrase I ever adopted from watching a show or reading a book was "Geez Louise". I was about nine and can't remember now where I picked it up from. I do remember being reprimanded by a schoolmate at our Catholic private school for taking the Lord's name in vain. I was shocked. I was? Nine-year-old me had never made the connection between "Geez" and "Jesus".

Joss Whedon's use of "shiny" as a blanket positive term in his Firefly/Serenity universe has been adopted globally by Browncoats everywhere as has the slang abbreviation " 'verse " to denote both real and fictional uni- and multi- verses.

Today's shirt is a Teefury buy and I'm almost absolutely sure that Mitch and J also ordered their own when they bought this gift for me. Jayne, after all, is Mitch's favourite character from Firefly/Serenity.

Like Shakespeare, the truly creative minds of contemporary times use language itself as a power device that sets their world-building apart from other endeavours. BSG's "frak". Star Wars' "nerf herder". Star Trek's "make it so". And Big Bang Theory's "Bazinga". Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series is another example, this time in the literary forum, where the slang is an intrinsic part of the characters and society in his post-apocalyptic California. In fact, it was such a major part, he co-wrote an entire companion book to the series, glossing the slang. 

In high school, my social circle headed out to see Mad Love, starring Chris O'Donnell and Drew Barrymore. Not actually sure why we picked it in the first place. We didn't love the movie after seeing it but the title tickled us as a pun-ny sort of euphemism for movies in general. For at least a few months afterwards, we referred to movie night as Mad Love Night. We thought it was fun-ny.

Language is a huge part of our world and what we adopt from our media reflects our interests and appreciation for the effort that goes into that which entertains us. Have any other words/phrases learned from shows or books worked their way into your vernacular?