Piers Kelly writes:

There are at least four ways to respond to any new colloquialism.

Perhaps you’ll find yourself amongst the early adopters. These folks typically belong to the same social crowd that originally innovated or borrowed the colloquialism.

Then there are the ironic users. They enjoy the expressiveness of the new word or idiom but are careful to dissociate themselves from the hippies/surfies/admin clerks and sundry early adopters who may have invented it.

The ironic users shade into the naysayers. Nostalgic for the days when Latin was still taught in schools, naysayers luxuriate in sanctimonious outrage over any variety of English that doesn’t resemble their own. Deviation from their standard is equated with moral degeneracy.

Lastly, the butterfly collectors are those insufferable nerds who talk about capturing neologisms ‘in the wild’. Though some will eagerly challenge the frothing naysayers to a pedantic debate, others of this breed are content to peer at them from a safe distance and record their observations.

Havinabarrius fullysicia
Havinabarrius fullysicia

Over time, the early adopters and ironic users become indistinguishable, the naysayers die of natural causes and the butterfly collectors get a new hobby or start a blog, like this one… Watch this space for rants and rambles on everything to do with language in Australia: words, accents, political rhetoric, indigenous languages, education policy, neologisms, linguistic technology – it’s all on the way.

Piers Kelly is an ironic butterfly collector, temporarily reporting from the Philippines.

(Visited 52 times, 1 visits today)