Misunderstanding Slang

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by Thirteen Ball, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Over the last couple of weeks, I've heard and seen more than a few examples of people using slang terms or colloquialisms that they've clearly misunderstood - and it just brought home to me how often this use of language goes un-noticed.

    For example, a few people I've seen on websites and social networks tend to write the slang term for irrepairably broken as 'foobah' or even worse 'foobahd' when in truth, it's an acronym. Allegedly invented by american military personell in the 2nd world war, it should be F.U.B.A.R. meaning ****** up beyond all repair.

    But at least in that situation the meaning remains the same - although this isn't always a case.

    A BBC commentator on the rubgy at the weekend described a scottish player who took a very long and exceptionally courageous throw from a line out in his own 22 as 'having big kahunas.' This puzzled me a bit, as a Kahuna is a hawaiian term for a tribal elder and general important person (the definition is quite wide) so a 'Big Kahuna' was a particularly important chief/elder - and I somehow doubt he had a pair of them on him at the time!

    Of course what he meant to say was 'big cojones' with the Spanish J that sounds somewhere between an H and a CH, meaning... well you get the picture.

    I just think if people are going to throw colloquilisms into their language, (and god knows, I use enough of them) they should at least understand what they mean before they do, otherwise they tend to look a bit silly!

    Anyone else heard any good ones lately?
  2. worzel

    worzel Member

    I totally disagree. I think you and the listener only need to know what the intended meaning of the word is in the context it is used. I had no idea where the phrase "cojones" came from, but I understand exactly what that commentator meant.

    Slang becomes language. By your argument we should all know the full etymology of every word we use.
  3. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    It should also be taken into consideration that a lot people mispronounce the Spanish word by making it "cajones" which with very little imagination sounds more like Kahunas rather Cojones.

    Anyway sounds like a load of old rugby balls to me :rolleyes:
  4. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    But if the viewer neither speaks Spanish or is aware that Kahuna is a word spoken in Hawaii, then how could they now what the speaker intended.

    While most rugby supporters have a good level of intelligence, the non rugby supporters, who watch matches out of national pride, may only have a smattering of Spanish, which generally involves the words,
    "Dos beers, grassy ass"
    and probably wouldn't event know what Kahuna was or where it was from.

    So, no, it is not necesary for the viewer to have a command of a foreign language and the etymology of words, but it would far more appropriate for a commentator to use colloquialisms that are easily understood, "He' must have a large pair" rather than get something wrong, and change the whole meaning of the sentence.
  5. worzel

    worzel Member

    *******s. I knew exactly what he meant and didn't even notice this supposed mispronunciation (most slang is pronounced differently to the word from it originates)
    despite having virtually no Spanish or Hawaiian and certainly having no knowledge of where this particular bit of slang came from. And I knew precisely because it is very well known slang.
  6. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    The word "quit" annoys me.......Even the BBC say it now...the mp for suchnsuch has "quit" due to family issues etc etc etc.......what happened to resigned or stepped down or fell on his sword......"quit" just seems very lazy................
  7. worzel

    worzel Member

    Yeah, that usage of "quit" has only been around since the 15th century. Maybe they should wait another century or so before succumbing to such vulgar modern slang.
  8. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    What you're saying is that a mistake is acceptable so long as everyone knows what it means?

    There are fine lines to be observed here. I'm not suggesting we should all study the etimology of EVERY word, but yes, people should bother to learn what words mean before using them. I think it was oscar Wilde who said that it's better to keep one's mouth shut and being thought a fool, than open it and remove all suspicion.

    My grandmother once laboured under the misapprehension that 'Homo' was etate-agent jargon for 'Home-owner.' I'm sure you can appreciate the issues this caused!!

    PS - The use of 'quit' for a position or occupation is relatively recent. However to quit a location (ie: to leave) is certainly as old as you suggest.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  9. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I can't believe we're debating whether a former England front-row forward was talking Spanish or Hawaiian...;)
  10. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Which makes a change, as said front row forward normally talks drivel.
  11. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member


    Correct usage
  12. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    When you hear something that is not quite right, it is often the case that you do a double take, and analyse what you have heard. After realising the error of the utterance, you then see what the original intent of the statement was

    I appreciate that the majority of people will be aware of what the actual phrase was, but Andi's post was about the misuse of colloquialisms and this is a prime example. Someone trying to use a substitute word so that it can be broadcast before the watershed without fear of reprise, and making a complete hash of it.

    Good luck on Saturday, me old china, and see you in the rub, down the frog, after the gig.
  13. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I actually think he's alright. Its Jerry Guscott who usually comes out with bilge. Mostly about Leicester players.

    I had to look that up...:roll:

    Anyway - I think we're straying rather. I wouldn't want to incur the wrath of Mr Ball (Thirteen not Eric).

    My mum always signs off her text messages to me with LOL. When I asked her why she said she thought it stood for Lots Of Love...

    Any 'Americanism' really grates with me (as in 'he quit') - especially when its the Beeb for some reason. Whenever I'm over in the US I have to make an effort to ignore the breakfast news reports, because of the messed up phrasing and language the reporters use.
  14. worzel

    worzel Member

    Not at all. What I'm saying is that what he meant to say was the common English slang word with no regard to its origins. And I, like everyone else I'm sure, understand it to mean exactly that, with equally little regard for (or even knowledge of, in my case) its origin.

    I am guessing that he did know what the common slang word he was intending to use meant.

    "Especially if one is prone to redundantly (and incorrectly) denoting possession with an apostrophe in a possessive pronoun", I think he added.

    Hah :) But the real issue is, would it matter a hoot whether your grandmother thought the "homo" in "homosexual" was from the Latin for man or the Greek for same? Would knowing which have had any bearing on her misunderstanding, or anyone else's correct usage of the slang word "homo"? I think not.

    According to the online etymology dictionary I'm using, both uasages actually come from the 17th century (I was wrong before). Which dictionary are you using?
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  15. worzel

    worzel Member

    Ah well, that's a totally different cauldron of shrimp then. If he knowingly used a different but similar sounding word due to the water shed then that would suggest that he wasn't quite so ignorant after all. Still, I didn't notice, and that is not what Andi was actually saying at all.

    Oh yeah, that's this Saturday isn't it. I'd better start practising. Good luck to you too, mine's a Guinness BTW :)
  16. worzel

    worzel Member

    Back on topic. I don't know why, because it is so common now, but I find the use of "was" where one meant "were" really grating. Like that song "If I was a rich girl" instead of the original "If I were a rich man."
  17. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Probably still to do with the number of punches he took in the scrum :biggrin:

    Mine's a Jesus Christ
  18. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    On the contrary ol' boy, it is precisely what I was saying.

    He couldn't rightly say b*ll*cks on live TV, so tried to find the generally accepted alternative - and made a rare dog's breakfast of it in the process.

    Oh, PS. Way to ruin a thread.... again....
  19. themusicalrentboy

    themusicalrentboy Active Member

    I find the misuse of 'mute' in 'it's a MOOT point' really really frustrating.

    Football commentators saying someone is 'flattering to deceive' which doesn't mean anything in the context of football.

    Footballers in general 'cause they haven't got a clue about the English language.

    The kids from extremely 'white' areas who go around talking like 50 cent because they think it's cool.

    I'm a grumpy old man at 19. Great.
  20. Bryan_sop

    Bryan_sop Active Member

    What, you mean Moots and Moosic.....ahhh the inbred people of the fens! hehe :wink:

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