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How Deaf People Come Up With Signs for Slang Terms Like “Photobomb”

hopesandfears.com
hopesandfears.com

New technology always introduces linguistic challenges. In the early days of moviemaking, it wasn’t clear what these new entertainments should be called. Kinesigraphs (after photograph)? Films? Moving pictures? Motion pictures? Picture shows? Movies? It is possible to imagine a new concept in different ways. Do you name it for the thing that distinguishes it from what came before? (It’s a picture—but it moves!) Or for the medium it’s printed on? (Film, itself an extension of the “thin layer” image.) It will take some time for people to converge on a favorite, sometimes a few generations.

The process is no different for the coinage of new terms in ASL. When a new idea comes into the culture, signers can borrow from English (through fingerspelling), modify an existing sign, or come up with something new through a reimagining of the concept. For example, here are two different possible signs for photobomb:

The one on the left conceptualizes it from the point of view of the picture-taker—someone pops into the picture I am taking. The one on the right conceptualizes it from the point of view of the person having their picture taken—someone barges in while I’m being photographed.

This gif comes from a story at Hopes&Fears that asked a pair of Deaf signers, Douglas Ridloff, an ASL artist, performer, and educator, and one of his students, 12-year-old Tully Stelzer, to give their signs for new terms.

For the term onesie, Ridloff gives the sign form “pajamas,” while Stelzer uses the concept of putting something over the body in one big piece.

If these concepts stick around long enough in the culture for the community to discuss them frequently, eventually the community will settle on a stable sign. Already Ridloff reports that people in the Deaf community don’t like his “photobomb” sign because they find it awkward. If we are still talking about photobombs a generation from now, only then will we see what the proper dictionary sign turns out to be. It may well turn out to be Stelzer’s. In any language, change tends to be driven by the younger generation. Who says “moving picture” any more?

See signs for “emoji,” “food coma,” “selfie,” and others, and read a Q&A with Ridloff and Tully about their signs at Hopes&Fears.

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Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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Wikimedia Commons// Public Domain
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25 Great Insults From 18th Century British Slang
Francis Grose
Francis Grose
Wikimedia Commons// Public Domain

For history buffs with a personal score to settle, "You jerk" just doesn't have the same ring as "You unlicked cub," an insult from Georgian England. And there's more where that came from if you browse through English lexicographer Francis Grose's A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, first published in 1785 and recently spotted by the Public Domain Review. The anthology is filled with slang words and terms of the kind dictionary scribe Samuel Johnson had previously deemed unfit for his influential A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). Below are some of the tome's most hilarious, vivid, and archaic insults, arranged in alphabetical order for your put-down pleasure. (And if you need more inspiration, here's some Victorian slang for good measure.)

1. ADDLE PATE

"An inconsiderate foolish fellow."

2. BEARD SPLITTER

“A man much given to wenching,” or consorting with prostitutes.

3. A BLOWSE, OR BLOWSABELLA

An unkempt woman. "A woman whose hair is dishevelled, and hanging about her face; a slattern."

4. BLUNDERBUSS

“A stupid, blundering fellow.”

5. BOB TAIL

“A lewd woman, or one that plays with her tail; also an impotent man, or an eunich.”

6. BULL CALF

"A great hulkey or clumsy fellow."

7. CORNY-FACED

"A very red pimpled face."

8. DEATH'S HEAD UPON A MOP-STICK

“A poor, miserable, emaciated fellow."

9. DUKE OF LIMBS

“A tall, awkward, ill-made fellow.”

10. FUSSOCK

"A lazy fat woman … a frowzy old woman."

11. GOLLUMPUS

"A large, clumsy fellow."

12. GUNDIGUTS

"A fat, pursy fellow."

13. HANG IN CHAINS

"A vile, desperate fellow.”

14. HEDGE WHORE

An itinerant prostitute, "who bilks the bagnios and bawdy houses, by disposing of her favours on the way side, under a hedge; a low beggarly prostitute.”

15. JACKANAPES

"An ape; a pert, ugly, little fellow."

16. JUST-ASS

"A punning appellation for a justice," or a punny name for a judge.

17. LOBCOCK

“A large relaxed penis, also a dull inanimate fellow.”

18. PUFF GUTS

"A fat man."

19. SCRUB

"A low mean fellow, employed in all sorts of dirty work."

20. SHABBAROON

"An ill-dressed shabby fellow; also a mean-spirited person."

21. SHAG-BAG

"A poor sneaking fellow, a man of no spirit."

22. SQUIRE OF ALSATIA

"A weak profligate spendthrift."

23. TATTERDEMALLION

“A ragged fellow, whose clothes hang all in tatters.”

24. THINGUMBOB

"A vulgar address or nomination to any person whose name is unknown ... Thingum-bobs, testicles."

25. UNLICKED CUB

“A rude uncouth young fellow.”

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