Anyone who’s ever spend any amount of time at all online will be all too familiar with the propensity of technology to wreak murderous havoc upon the written word. It’s always struck me as slightly ironic that the soft tissues of the technology we use – the code and programming that instructs the hardware to perform a function that actually has any meaning to us, the end user – are so heavily reliant on perfect phrasing, correct context and proper syntax, that the slightest error can bring the whole grinding to a premature halt. Anyone who has ever dabbled in the arcane arts of programming will heartily attest to that fact, (me? – i’ll admit to a fondness for messing about with Mallard Basic… such a shame 16 Bit machines came on to the scene!). Once you get the things working though, all hell breaks loose and our carefully crafted programmes and applications, (i still can’t bring myself to use the diminutive, ‘apps’), permit us free reign to completely destroy all semblance of grammar, spelling, form and style… and by heck, we do!
Demonstrating a complete disregard for linguistic convention, our forays into the murkier depths of corruption and the wholesale illegitimisation of our written missives range from the humble spelling mistake, through flagrant typonese to the totally anarchic and purposeful mutilation of language for no other reason than it seems to have become the done thing these days.
Usually, such fumble-fingered faux pas are glibly ignored, forever consigned to the black maw of forgetfulness and regret; hidden away in the distant nether regions of our chat logs, never again, (thank goodness), to see the light of day – unless, of course, you’re anything like me, in which case you will inevitably commit the self-same typographic twaddle all over again, or some variant on the theme, the very next time you set finger to keyboard.
Occasionally though, some typos take on a life of their own and, before you know it, an innocent mistake has been turned into an sl legend: Copied and pasted, gesturated and passed on, like the latest viral meme, it can become an entity in its own right. One of the first such examples i ever came across in sl was ‘:::::TUBE!:::::’ – a gesture that i was introduced to and then started to use myself, long before i knew its humble origins. The story goes that a friend of mine, attempting to type ‘TUNE!’, managed to hit the ‘B’ instead of the ‘N’ – the rest is history… of course, it may only be endemic to a smallish circle of friends but, there are few clubs that i regularly frequent where you won’t hear the occasional ‘TUBE!’ being exclaimed at least once or twice during the set. i tend to use this particular typo as the benchmark, it having attained a level of popularity and general usage that most other typos can only look enviously at and strive to attain. There are some worthy candidates i’ve come across, but few have managed to break through into the ranks of respectability – amongst my favourite wannabes are; ‘coinception’, ‘diaconnection’ and, ‘avatart’.
i can’t say that any of my own typos have yet reached cult status – although i’m a prolific typonologist; and without trying particularly hard either. i think my all-time classic has to be “amd o si[[pses”, (worked it out yet? Unbelievably, it’s “and i suppose”!), but it hardly trips off the tongue. My best usable stab at textual infamy to date has been ‘Frilliant’ – which has been variously interpreted as a cross between brilliant and fantastic; a contraction of ‘freaking brilliant’ or, for that matter, any other f-word you may feel predisposed to employ. All that may, however be about to change.
How would you like to pass on the gift of a new word this Christmas? Might i suggest that you may like to toy with the word, ‘Scrog’, or one of its many variants?
Scrog arose out of my complete inability to liken a friend to that well-known Dickensian Christmas character Ebenezer Scrooge – whose name i managed to render as ‘Scrogger’. Instantly, it seemed that everyone present was determined to seize upon this hitherto unknown expression and milk it for all it was worth: Never before has the normally slow process of language evolution happened quite so rapidly; from the noun ‘scrogger’, to the verb ‘to scrog’, complete with every conjugation you can imagine, (and a few that i think may have been invented on the spur of the moment). Then someone came up with the adverb, ‘scroggily’, after which followed numerous variations on the theme… ‘scrogistics’; ‘scrogitation’; ‘scrogationer’… you get the idea!
Before you could say ‘scrogercallifragilisticexpialidocious’, not one, but three gestures were bouncing around the room and the blooming thing was turning viral! Next thing i knew, the following comment was made:
“i will say scroggin in rl and see if the kids start to say it at school lol”
… i dread to think where this might lead, (Oxford English Dictionary would be good!).
There is the small matter of what exactly does it mean? – The simple answer to that is pretty much, ‘whatever you want it to mean’ -yes folks, i seem to have invented the only word in the English language that can effectively be used in any situation as a grammatically correct rendition of anything you want it to be – the ultimate user-friendly, multi-purpose, scroggingly useful word that you could wish for – all i ask is that you don’t misspell it!
This is my brain
And it’s fine
It’s where I spend a vast majority of my time
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine
Tim Minchin – Not Perfect