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Because I Want To Be A Jargonaut When I Grow Up

By Author: thief yan
Total Articles: 101

It only takes a moment in the school hallway to recognize the love young adults have for slang. I turn to the creation of slang and jargon—which is worthy of historical study in and of itself—to reveal its comic potential. I have most frequently used this activity in conjunction with reading M. T. Anderson's Feed, a satirical dystopian novel in which the author creates new slang terms to represent both technological influence on language and the "en-dampening" of our society. Using terms such as meg ("very," from mega and mega-bytes) or to go mal (to cause one's brain to simulate a drug-induced state, from malfunction due to a computer virus), Anderson gives his characters a unique voice through which they can reflect the society in which they live. I point out to students that these coined terms function much like metaphors Womens Shoes and serve as a means for a changing society to describe itself. In fact, Wired Magazine, a publication dedicated to new electronic technology, runs a column titled "Jargon Watch," and the online Urban Dictionary documents current slang. These sources have included such gems as the following:

Pod snob—Someone who continuously listens to his/her iPod, unable to detect being spoken to, and is unaware of any other conversation taking place around him/her Word of mouse—information spread through chat rooms and blogs f surprise by a single person when a pager or cell phone set to vibrate goes off. Most important are the ways in which much jargon relies on humor for part of its effect. So, for this activity I ask students to do the following:
1. Make a list of any other technical terms they have heard, especially ones that are humorous.
2. Brainstorm ways in which current technology influences them, looking for the odd or humorous aspects of it.
3. Create five new humorous terms to describe that aspect of their experience with technology.

Because Being Booked Is Every English Teacher's Dream
In Comedy Writing Secrets: How to Think Funny, Write Funny, Act Funny and Get Paid for It, Melvin Helitzer recommends engaging writers in "association" brainstorms as a kind of mental warm-up. In one such activity, students are given a character in terms of profession—firefighter, police officer, dog-catcher, gardener—and then asked to brainstorm as many verbs as they can that might metaphorically describe a physical or psychological condition of that person. For example, in describing how a firefighter might feel coming home from work, one might list burned up, torched, fired up, steaming, and not too hot. A similar list for a gardener Man Shoes might include hosed, potted, bushed, seedy, and all wet. Another example is to brainstorm as many double entendres as possible associated with a topic. For example, words related to golf that have multiple meanings might include shot, birdie, slice, trap, stroke, and handicap. From such words, comic sentences that play off of multiple meanings can then be constructed: "He shot a birdie on the fourteenth hole; that gave him one sparrow and two seagulls for the day." Such an activity prompts students to associate metaphorically and think in divergent ways to uncover multiple possibilities. It also provides them with a simple strategy for adding a comic touch to any humorous story or essay they might choose to write.

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