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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The New Language

posted by on September 13 at 10:53 AM

A friend of mine is a high school English teacher (at a fancy private high school).

He came across two amazing malapropisms while grading papers this week.

Amazing, because it seems to me, these kids have unwittingly invented some great new expressions.

One student wrote, “post dramatic stress” instead of “post traumatic stress” (and no, not on purpose.) This is a great new phrase.

Suffered through a histrionic acquaintance’s latest trauma recently? Next time they set out to bend your ear just say, ” Sorry, I’ve still got post dramatic stress.”

Another student wrote “firstable” instead of “first of all.” There’s a slightly new meaning here. “Firstable,” I think, could be a noun that means the item that comes after the expression “First of all.” Example: The case against Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was compelling and lengthy. The fact that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeada is firstable.

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Brilliant, both of them. Who says there's nothing new under the sun? These are SO going to be incorporated into my vocabulary, like, now.

Posted by Jaime-Leigh | September 13, 2007 10:55 AM

I think you mean "The fact that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeada is fistable".

Posted by Timothy Wind | September 13, 2007 11:03 AM

Is this a fancy ... preschool?

Posted by Gloria | September 13, 2007 11:11 AM

Oh crap, never mind! Irony.

Posted by Gloria | September 13, 2007 11:11 AM

knocking 'em out of the park on ye olde slog today. thanks.

Posted by kerri harrop | September 13, 2007 11:17 AM

okay, i'm all in favour of these new words. i just don't think i understand firstable well enough to use it properly in a sentence. could someone please provide another example. because, if firstable is a noun, then first would be a verb, right? so in the above example, it shows that the firstable clause should have come before the first sentence, no? am i getting this?

also, Suffered through a histrionic acquaintance’s latest trauma recently? would technically still be a type of post traumatic stress then, wouldn't it? it'd have to be: Suffered through a histrionic acquaintance’s latest drama recently?

Posted by infrequent | September 13, 2007 11:24 AM

Absolutely. Post dramatic stress describes perfectly what I felt after watching Chris Crocker's recent histrionic video. (Sorry to bring that up again.)

Posted by SDA in SEA | September 13, 2007 11:28 AM

Are these invented new expressions brilliant only because they come from the golden pens (or silver lap tops) of fancy private high school kids? What if these kids were in an unfancy urban high school? Just wondering and not trying to create drama or any post drama.

Posted by SchoolOfThought | September 13, 2007 11:29 AM

ha! post drama! i guess this new term has more meaning online...

Posted by infrequent | September 13, 2007 11:31 AM

Friend at UW had lots of nice ones from student essays. One particularly memorable one was "escape goats." I'll never stop getting on a boat and looking for lined-up, life-preserver clad goats.

Posted by anon | September 13, 2007 11:34 AM

Holy shit! *Post* drama is brilliant!

Posted by kid icarus | September 13, 2007 11:37 AM

To be fair, I totally missed the bit about it being a fancy private school. I just genuinely find post dramatic stress really funny.

Posted by Jaime-Leigh | September 13, 2007 11:38 AM

As in, "I still have post dramatic stress disorder after reading the comments on the 'Making Biking Safer' thread yesterday".

Posted by kid icarus | September 13, 2007 11:38 AM

These are great examples of eggcorns (refer to LanguageLog blog here: An eggcorn is basically a malapropism that in fact makes sense in context.

Posted by QuimbyMcF | September 13, 2007 12:02 PM

@13 For real.

Posted by Katelyn | September 13, 2007 12:06 PM

A student in my seventh grade English class wrote in a quiz that an author had won the "Pullet Surprise". Priceless. Although this was at a regular boring old public school, so I guess it's not as impressive.

Posted by Iris | September 13, 2007 12:11 PM

My peeve: "For all intensive purposes"

Posted by laterite | September 13, 2007 12:43 PM

some purposes are more intense than others.

Posted by infrequent | September 13, 2007 12:58 PM

firstable = predicate adjective

Posted by Essex | September 13, 2007 12:58 PM

Totally mindbottling!

Posted by Dougsf | September 13, 2007 1:02 PM

You know, in public school, your grade would get docked for mispelled words. Maybe my public school wasn't so bad after all....

Posted by Gomez | September 13, 2007 1:11 PM

firstable - that's what first post is.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 13, 2007 1:38 PM

Languaging is galiant!

Posted by I Love Languaging! | September 13, 2007 1:55 PM

I had a student who wrote "pre-good" when he meant "pretty good." (Grading his paper, I had to say it out loud a few times before I got the point.)

I like "pre-good" -- good, but maybe not quite good. It's not as brilliant as "pre-Madonna," but I've adopted it all the same.

Posted by Erik | September 13, 2007 3:05 PM

At the UW English Department faculty office, somebody posted a student essay discussing Shakespeare's view of "this doggy-dog world." (The student was trying to say "dog-eat-dog.")

Posted by Tim Appelo | September 13, 2007 5:38 PM

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