Sunday, November 30, 2003

Wha Hap?

Ok, I'm reading this story from Variety and I'm wondering:

What's an "auds" or "exhib"? And "soph"? And "distrib"? "B.O" ? "Cume"?

I get the feeling I'm missing something here -- like the other half of the word.

First off, I know perfectly well that this is an industry paper and its articles are aimed more at "insiders" who are familiar with the slang and jargon. Nevertheless, it's being distributed on Yahoo's news service, and I'd bet dollars to donuts that the publishers of Variety would be perfectly happy if a few hundred-thousand non-industry types would pay for a subscription or, better yet, buy stuff from their advertisers.

Second, I feel that any writer who can use "juggernaut" in a sentence can spell out "sophmore".

Are we in that much of a hurry today that we can't even take the time to finish words? I'm an excellent contextual reader, so it didn't take me TOO much puzzling to translate "auds" into audience (although I toyed with Audits and Audial), "exhib" into exhibitor and and "distrib" into distributor. "Cume" paused me for a minute until I had a disturbing flashback to a long ago statistics class and came up with "cumulative". I think "cume" is an actual word. I have my doubts about the others.

And the phrase "the Keanu Reeves starrer gave the overall B.O. a mighty boost" gave me a momentary chuckle as I invisioned a rising stench rather than an increase in the Box Office Earnings.

There's a reason to play around with a language. There's a reason to make up words, cut them up, give them new meanings or otherwise turn them into slang or code. The reason is exclusion. The idea is to set "us" apart from "them" by letting "us" speak in a way that excludes "them". You see it especially among adolescences and young adults, and among any group who finds themselves in a minority (especially a minority suffering from some manner of real or perceived discrimination -- I say real or perceived because you see this tendency on both ends of the socio-economic scale. Rich, white people do it, too.)

So much for the idea of joining together through language.

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