Friday, May 2, 2008

Slippery Slang

Today I was reunited (to use an antiquated term) with a friend from HS. Having recently graduated from the Musical Theatre program at Sheridan, his linguistic register is significantly different from mine. One might describe it as "theatre speak". The speech regularly employed by those in the performance industry, most often used by actors and singers, but also regularly identified in movie producers, directors, etc.

In the course of our conversations today, I was exposed to various curiosities of English, and several artifacts of slang. Most of the time, I was able to guess the correct polarity of his odd phrases (which usually fell into the polar category of being good or bad). One, however, was particularly bewildering for me. He had described himself as being "the sh*t" for a certain performance, which had me guessing whether he meant that he was an exemplary dancer for that performance, or whether he had failed miserably.

Apparently, it means the former. When someone is described as "the sh*t", apparently it means that they are most excellent. On the other hand, if they are described as being "sh*tty", it doesn't. Similarly, if someone "shat" their exams, it does not mean that they passed with flying colours.

This does, however, remind me of another word now used in common vernacular: "bomb". If someone is described as being "the bomb", it's supposed to be a testament to their excellence or their expertise. If they "bombed" something, on the other hand, it means that they failed it miserably. Incidentally, to describe someone as being "bombastic" isn't exactly a positive thing.

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