Thursday, October 06, 2005

Supersize me

Following on from the last post about the bigging up of menus with fancy foreign talk, the Telegraph is reporting this as a more widespread language phenomenon. No longer content with regular, we want our language supersized too - with reference to food, jobs, and government gurus.

This is an interesting language change issue with a number of angles. Firstly, if language reflects our society and its concerns, what does this language change say about us? Why this need for a change in the way we express superlative quality or achievement? Were the previous forms of expression inadequate in some way, or is this a marker of some other kind of attitude to the world around us?

Then there's the issue of how these superlatives are being constructed. Many are formed by prefixing "mega", "ova" or "├╝ber" to existing words. I'm guilty as charged, describing myself not just as a geek but as an "├╝bergeek". Geek would do just fine, I'm sure, but this technique has become the verbal equivalent of all those exclamation marks in emails. We clearly feel a need for more emphatic forms - but why?....

I'm also curious to know whether this phenomenon is a consequence of the enormous influence of American English on British English. The whole "supersize me" thing is an American cultural product, one that drives me nuts when I just want a normal cup of coffee and I've got to choose between "tall", "supergrande" and "absolutely impossible to drink without needing bladder reconstruction surgery afterwards". With the culture comes the language...

Check it out, and see how many other examples you can find...

English suffers hyper-inflation

1 Comments:

At 4:50 am, Blogger methinks said...

a rather interesting blog.
you're on my blogroll now, so i'll just keep coming back!!

 

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