Monday, October 08, 2007

The death of cropping?

Back on the job, finally and been, well, kinda tied up ...

Seems like when cool linguistic innovations reach a certain level of popularity, they die -- no longer markers of cool, inside status. There's a long set of croppings in American youth language that leave the final syllable of a word:
  • parents > rents
  • pizza > za
The first one has long been familiar to me but never pushed much past its original audience. Za turns up in broader circles, it seems like, and often a little tongue in cheek. It's striking in part because so much stuff in English starts from left edges, not right ones -- we're deleting stressed syllables and keeping unstressed ones.

Just heard a Coke ad on the radio pushing the notion of venience, from convenience, and doing it in a very self-conscious, heavy-handed way. It's not disyllabic like most of the example I know, and it's not deleting a stressed syllable. And it doesn't work all that well. Is this an unraveling of that cropping pattern?

Is there more going on here than I see?


The Ridger, FCD said...

The one I always puzzled over was "shroom". It doesn't break at syllable boundaries and always seemed weird to me. But "vienence" is really strange, too.

Plus, I think when the first time you hear it is in advertising that's a pretty good sign it's not "inside" anymore.

Mr. Verb said...

Yeah, I think shroom came from the drug scene ('magic mushrooms') and has spread into general use -- shrooms on your za still sounds dangerous to me. I'm figuring that was playful.


Cassaday Rasmussen said...

Welcome back Mr. Verb!

There is more here because we're not invoking the utility of the "Name Game" in these truncations. So to remind everyone, the "Name Game" was an old song from the 1960's (

that goes something like:
X X bo b-(X minus 'onset')
banana fana fo f-(x minus 'onset')
me my mo m-(X minus 'onset')


Now, the interesting and relevant thing about the "Name Game" is that if you play it with a word that starts with an unstressed syllable such as Rebecca, everyone that I've asked to play the game truncates the name to Becca i.e. to the stressed syllable. Note that even 5-year-olds who just learned the game (don't ask, that is a different story) do this truncation.

Now the final beautiful weirdness of English is that explitive infixation

focalizes on the same place where you truncate so...

'venience' may feel forced for you, Mr. V, but it is actually the truncated form for the "Name Game" (minus the onset of course) and where you put the %#$@%* for explitive infixation.

And I agree, 'shrooms' is definitely from the drug scene...