Monday, 1 June 2009

A plague of euphemisms - original/old

Toddler-Speak is so funny......

All four of our children have in their time come up with some highly amusing (and at times pretty damn clever) alternative terms as young children will. From "Hot Boots" for slippers, going for a "Bike-Walk" ie a bike ride with Daddy, to the more extreme "Woomarrer" (Sp???!) for Lawnmower (A) and "Coconut Vegetables" for, well, just about anything (H) we now have quite an extensive Thompson nomenclature. So extensive is it that R and I can be found chuckling to ourselves most days using a totally alternative Thompson dialect. The current favourite is the absurd "Woomarrer" word for lawnmower, spawning "Extreme Woomarrer-ing" for a variety of mowing techniques. Bizarre I know, but you had to be there. Honestly.

On a more serious note it occured to me how so many groups in society are now guilty of the same thing. Certainly my IT Director husband knows "Geek Speak" or "Tecchie Babble" or whatever you want to call it, and the ridiculous jargon used in business to "flag up" the main issues and tackle the "low-hanging fruit"...( Or "High hanging vegetables" according to A which could even be extrapolated to high-hanging coconut vegetables if desperate but like I said, it's a Thompson thing.) This surge of social dialects is transforming society. Regional dialects still exist of course but the population is so mobile now they are considerably diluted. Social dialects like business "Firmware" can seem exclusive and elitist, affirming your membership of whichever "club" you are in. But how to break in to the clique in the first place? It must be like arriving in deepest Yorkshire from Kent a hundred years ago - or the other way around. The same is true on the internet, social networking sites like Facebook have spawned hundreds of new euphemisms, terms, and alternative descriptions. Our current need to redefine everything we come into contact with goes deep and our daily interaction with modern technology has precipitated a lot of this.

So is social networking replacing economics and geography in providing our language, customs and mannerisms? Certainly the internet has a lot to answer for, Facebook for one has transformed how many of us keep in touch, superseding even texting for many as a "one-stop interaction shop". It's a bit dry and cerebral though, I'm not sure a cyber hug makes such an impact as a real one but then so few of us have time for more on an average day. The virtual gifts of coffee and alcohol are tasteless but sin-free, the thought was there but the enjoyment was definitely not.

Whether it is through work or play there is no doubt there has been a huge surge in social dialects - in their creation and use. Ironically one of the side effects of this is isolation and the growth of new barriers in society. Instead of finding it incredibly difficult to get a job in a local or family firm the task is no easier, just different. Instead a knowledge and degree of understanding of appropriate nomenclature is essential - or you don't stand a chance. Breaking into a new social group, now often on the internet, poses similar difficulties. Many's the time I have abandoned a new discussion forum because I don't feel I "fit in".

What it boils down to is this. Human beings are essentially a small group species. Challenge and redefine the Venn Diagram boundaries of society and society will come up with new ones. But it's important not to forget that the newer, possibly less obvious frontiers are no less prohibitive to those on the other side. We haven't actually come very far in terms of creating an open society, and I'm not sure that is what human beings are designed to do, however fashionable the idea may be. Why else are we still teaching adults to work together like our toddlers at home? Are we banging our heads on the proverbial brick wall? As R will often quote "There's no "I" in "Team" but there's a "me" if you look hard enough!" Now that IS extreme woomarrering. ;)

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