June 3, 1998 |
It's time to get "stoked" about "duck-diving" and executing an "alley-oop." But don't "wipeout"--you'll look like a "barney" in front of a "nugget." If you're a surfer, you just caught my drift. But you don't have to be clueless if you don't water boogie. You, too, can surf the slang--right here, right now--with nary a gnarly wipeout. * Air: When the surfer and board take off into the air and land on the wave again. * Alley-oop: When a surfer rotates 360 degrees backward above the wave.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 19, 1994 |
The computer message between cops on the street was short and to the point: One officer said he planned to "kick" a suspect when he got back to the station. He wasn't suggesting violence, just communicating in the esoteric language of the Los Angeles Police Department. "Kicking" a suspect is a good thing from the suspect's point of view--it means that he will be "kicked loose," released from custody. And how do some cops describe the condition of a suspect or traffic victim who is near death?
May 1, 2005 |
Ilan STAVANS is uniquely qualified to ponder the meaning of words and the many-splendored pleasures to be found in dictionaries, as he does in this fascinating collection of essays. A Mexican Jew whose ancestors came from Poland and Ukraine, Stavans has devoted his career as an academic and author to negotiating his way through the dense thicket of language across different cultures. Stavans, who is the Lewis-Sebring professor in Latin American and Latino culture at Amherst College, may well be one of the few writers who could have both supervised the publication of Library of America's three-volume series of Isaac Bashevis Singer's short stories and written a book about Spanglish.
December 30, 1985 |
The name of the school French painter Francois Boisrond is connected with is Figuration Libre. That must be French for Neo-Expressionist Graffiti. Like Keith Haring and the rest of that irreverent, hip crowd, Boisrond makes TV-generation art; it's flashy, splashy, trashy stuff with references that are all over the map.
February 9, 1986 |
What is "fast food"? Is it simply a phrase of our times, or do we really have faster food? Writing recently about schoolchildren's ideas of the '30s and '40s, I observed that there were no fast foods back then. That is questioned by John F. Haigler, a San Diego attorney. "What actually qualifies today as a fast-food restaurant?" he asks. "We in the legal world are burdened with a supposed need for precise definition."
February 9, 1991 |
Each war forges its own peculiar language as words and phrases are reshaped to reflect a new reality. In World War II, soldiers were "GIs," for government issue, and a problem became a snafu--situation normal, all fouled up. In Vietnam, soldiers were termed "grunts" and any place outside Southeast Asia was "the world," as in, "I'd like to get back to the world." So, too, has an indigenous jargon emerged here. At least for now, the slang of this war is more humorous than vicious.
November 16, 1986 |
When I first began reporting on Hollywood and everything was new and interesting, my greatest fascination lay with Hollywoodese, that mixed-up melange of techno-Yiddish blurbology spoken by anyone who fancies that they are a true industry insider. I savored every new piece of slang, from "multi-pic-pact" (multiple picture deal) to "turnaround" (when a project's progress at a studio is suddenly thrown into reverse). I schmoozed, schlepped and Spago'ed.
July 13, 2005 |
Thursday is Bastille Day -- or le 14 Juillet, as it's known in France. For me, that's cause to think about French food. And to bemoan the fact that my husband and son and I won't be going to France this summer as usual to visit my in-laws, who are obsessed with the stuff. It's tough for me to get it into my zucchini that we don't have enough sorrel to go this year. Our rear ends aren't exactly surrounded by noodles. Zucchini? Sorrel? Noodles? Well, that's how French people talk.
January 27, 1999 |
In 1998, it was the N-word. Will 1999 be the year of the F-word? "Fruit." "Fag." "Fairy." According to Merriam-Webster's thesaurus, they're all other words for "homosexual." When the list appeared in America Online's version of the thesaurus earlier this month--along with related words and synonyms such as "uranian" and "queer," among others--gay rights leaders weren't the only ones who gasped in horror.