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When slang is just plain lazy

S
lang adds color to the language. It adds brevity as well, and in the process it sometimes even adds precision. Fixer-upper paints the picture much better, and faster, than house sold with the understanding that it is in need of repairs. So let me make this perfectly clear: I'm not always opposed to slang, just as I'm not necessarily opposed to wearing tennis shoes. It all depends on the occasion: You don't wear tennies to your grandma's funeral, and you don't use slang (such as "tennies") in newspaper stories about violent death.

A close cousin to slang is the phenomenon of permanent truncation, in which a term (hashed browned potatoes, for example) loses a few pounds (hash browns). I have no problem here, although reasonable editors will disagree over whether, say, "ice tea" has earned this status (this reasonable editor says it hasn't -- that's iced tea to you).

Caught in the middle, and in the eye of my wrath, are those cute little truncations that have endeared themselves to the speaking and writing public with such brash persistence that everyone pretends to have forgotten these words' true identities:

Tux. Limo. Veggies. Vegas. Black and yellow Labs.
There are no tuxedos, limousines, vegetables or Labrador retrievers in Las Vegas, and indeed there is no Las Vegas. Well, OK, Las Vegas is still clinging to life in some circles. Vegetables is pretty far gone, though, and limousine and tuxedo are missing and presumed dead. Again, it's fine to use the truncated forms, even in writing, in the context of deliberate informality. But it's ridiculous to use these as actual words when writing, as I like to put it, with a straight face.

The genesis of this rant, by the way, was a late-night "infomercial" for one of those buttocks-strengthening devices. The perky little host never, ever, referred to this part of the body as anything but "buns." Even in the most technical, explanatory parts of this "paid programming" it was buns this and buns that. Not a truncation, of course, but I think you can see how this set me off.


Now what?

Move on to ARBITRARY CAPITALIZATION

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