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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ross Rambles: On being like totally gnarly

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

(Photo)
There are a few phrases I've been hearing lately that I don't understand, such as 'word', 'crib' and 'bee otch'.

This poses the unacceptable danger of people perceiving me as not current in the popular vernacular of the day - uncool, to be more succinct.

So, in my never ending quest to be a groovy hepcat, I sought the elusive definitions of these phrases.

Through the Urban Dictionary website, I learned that the phrase 'word,' used as a stand-alone expletive, emphasizes the accuracy of a statement or expresses agreement with a previous speaker.

"Check it out dude, them wheels is righteous! Word!"

"Word!"

According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase was shortened from the phrase "word is bond" which was shortened from the phrase, "my word is my bond."

As with many current phrases, this one developed in the prison culture, from which is drawn much of the slang of the inner city gangsta culture, from which is drawn much of the slang of the suburban and rural white adolescent gangsta wannabe culture.

The phrase 'crib' is defined as - "home, domicile, or dwelling." The Urban Dictionary gives an example and translation for use of the phrase 'crib':

"Dang du...your CRIB is phat YO!": meaning - "Your house is very pleasing to the eye."

The above also includes the phrase 'phat' which is pronounced the same as 'fat' but actually means fine or good looking.

According to the Urban Dictionary, the term 'phat' has been out of use for some time in the gangsta culture. That means that it will soon be out of use in the gangsta wannabe culture but should serve in the middle-aged groovy hepcat culture for some decades to come.

The relatively short life of the term 'phat' may be due to the possibility of confusion when used in the spoken language, the primary means of communication within the gangsta culture.

It might be taken wrong if a person was to say to a young woman, "You are one phat chick. Let's hang."

The phrase 'bad' as a generally positive description has faded from use but had a relatively long popularity, despite having a pop culture meaning that was nearly opposite from its traditional meaning. Inflection and context generally prevented the term from being confusing to those who regularly used it.

The slang phrase 'bad' wasn't totally opposite from the traditional use. It didn't precisely mean 'good'. The rebellious youth culture used 'bad' to imply a defiant element, a toughness that Michael Jackson carried out so well in his hit song 'Bad'.

This is like the macho characteristics displayed by members of the Village People who expressed the musical wish, "I want to be a macho man."

Regarding the nearly obsolete phrase 'macho', this was not used much outside of Hispanic culture until feminists used it as a self-parodying phrase in the 1970s, a disparaging synonym for Chauvinist.

Although feminists intended the term 'macho' to embody the worst traits associated with masculinity - being overbearing and insensitive, those to whom it was directed refused to take offense. It changed from an insult to a term that men, particularly insensitive and overbearing men, took pride in, that is until the Village People declared their macho longings.

By the way, many claim that the term 'gay' when used as a general term of disdain - "That is so gay!" - has nothing to do with sexuality, but according to the Urban Dictionary, this use of the term developed from the desire of young gangsta males to express distaste at anything associated with the gay culture.

Now I have completed my research and have a whole new vocabulary to impress people with for the next couple of decades. I still haven't figured what that phrase 'bee otch' means. Perhaps it means 'groovy hepcat'.