On the Web: Dipthong and Homeslice

I'm sure you've all seen that Language Log is promoting the use of the word "dipthong" as an insult. Chris Pott's writes:

My wife's (very scholarly) Forbes Library book club is reading Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn this month. The book seems to be full of wonderfully inventive swearing. Last night, my wife read this one aloud to me (p. 170):

If I wanted a gun, I'd get a gun, you diphthong.

Diphthong works remarkably well as a pejorative. Curious about whether this was Lethem's innovation, I searched the Net for "you diphthong", figuring that the initial pronoun would cut down on merely phonological discussions. Precision was still poor — a mixture of phonological discussions of you and fortuitous juxtapositions of these two words by programs for generating random text, but the search did turn up a few cases of genuine expressivity, and I discovered that the Urban Dictionary has an entry:

1. diphthong: A vowel combination consisting of a weak vowel and a strong one. It is more commonly used as an insult, seeing as it is a legitimately funny word.
There is a diphthong in "loud."


You'll be happy to know that I've gone to the Urban Dictionary and thumbs-upped the above definition. And you'll also be happy to know that other uses of dipthong as an insult show up on Google when you put an asterisk between "you" and "dipthong", for example:

  • "Here you are at last, are you, you blankety-blank mick dipthong!" he yelled blood-thirstily. "Where you been? You want to make a nervous wreck outa me?
  • I’ll go to federal prison before I play this charade with you, you duplicitous, grandstanding dipthong.

I am happy that highly-regarded Language Log (Technorati Authority: 872) is using the Urban Dictionary to promote words just like I am.

Although I am sad to see that you dipthongs (not you, Zoom) have not been voting for my definition of homeslice. Maybe if one or two of you would come through, I'd be back at number 1.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

using grammar to insult? I can do that!