Slayer Slang

Slayer Slang

by Michael Adams
     
 

In its seven years on television, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has earned critical acclaim and a massive cult following among teen viewers. One of the most distinguishing features of the program is the innovative way the show's writers play with language: fabricating new words, morphing existing ones, and throwing usage on its head. The result has been a strikingly

Overview

In its seven years on television, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has earned critical acclaim and a massive cult following among teen viewers. One of the most distinguishing features of the program is the innovative way the show's writers play with language: fabricating new words, morphing existing ones, and throwing usage on its head. The result has been a strikingly resonant lexicon that reflects the power of both youth culture and television in the evolution of American slang. Using the show to illustrate how new slang is formed, transformed, and transmitted, Slayer Slang is one of those rare books that combines a serious explanation of a pop culture phenomena with an engrossing read for fans of the show, word geeks, and language professionals. Michael Adams begins his book with a synopsis of the program's history and a defense of ephemeral language. He then moves to the main body of the work: a detailed glossary of slayer slang, annotated with actual dialogue and recorded the style accepted by the American Dialect Society. The book concludes with a bibliography and a lengthy index, a guide to sources (novels based on the show, magazine articles about the show, and language culled from the official posting board) and an appendix of slang-making suffixes. Introduced by Jane Espenson, one of the show's most inventive writers (and herself a linguist), Slayer Slang offers a quintessential example of contemporary youth culture serving as a vehicle for slang.
In the tradition of The Physics of Star Trek, Slayer Slang is one of those rare books that offers a serious examination a TV cult phenomenon appealing to fans and thinkers alike.
A few examples from the Slayer Slang glossary:
bitca n [AHD4 bitch n in sense 2.a + a] Bitch 1997 Sep 15 Whedon When She Was Bad "[Willow:] 'I mean, why else would she be acting like such a b-i-t-c-h?' [Giles:] 'Willow, I think we're all a little old to be spelling things out.' [Xander:] 'A bitca?'"
break and enterish adj [AHD4 sv breaking and entering n + -ish suff in sense 2.a] Suitable for crime 1999 Mar 16 Petrie Enemies "I'll go home and stock up on weapons, slip into something a little more break and enterish." [B]
carbon-dated adj [fr. AHD4 carbondating + -ed] Very out of date 1997 Mar 10 Whedon Welcome to the Hellmouth "[Buffy:] 'Deal with that outfit for a moment.' [Giles:] 'It's dated?' [Buffy:] 'It's carbon-dated.'"
cuddle-monkey n [AHD4 cuddle v + monkey n in sense 2, by analogy fr. RHHDAS (also DAS3 and NTC) sv cuddle bunny 'an affectionate, passionate, or sexually attractive young woman'] Male lover 1998 Feb 10 Noxon Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered "Every woman in Sunnydale wants to make me her cuddle-monkey." [X]

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If you're curious about the word 'ubersuck,' or just want to remember which episode you first heard it in, this is the place to look. As Buffy would say, it is not uncool."—Kansas City Star

"While we were caught up in the drama of the battles against the undead...linguist Michael Adams was concentrating on the words. Slayer Slang is a combination dictionary of slayer slang/guide to the Buffyverse/textbook. Just consider it another sign Buffy will live forever."—Sacramento Bee

"Even if you never watched the show, Slayer Slang provides major clueage about the formation of slang terms in general. Slang, after all, is where language vrooms and vibes—or, in the case of Buffy, where it vamps."—Hartford Courant

"In applying linguistic analysis to the show, Adams not only shows how brilliant and innovative the writing was but also its toggling relationship to and influences upon popular culture."—Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"Will satisfy the inner geek of a Buffy fan."—Kansas City Star

Publishers Weekly
The cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which follows a California cheerleader's crusade against the undead, has spawned websites and posting boards, novels, comics and, in the academy, Buffy Studies. This volume, a glossary of the show's distinctive dialect ("Buffyspeak"), is a strange marriage of a fan guide and a linguistics textbook. Referencing the original 1992 film as well as the TV show, the almost 75 novels and novelizations based on the character, the official and unofficial web posting boards and other media associated with the "Buffyverse," the monograph comprises an affectionate but technical paean to American slang and youth culture in addition to its 150-page glossary. As a study of actuation (the origins of new words), lexical gaps (concepts without names), loose idioms, new syntactic patterns and ephemeral language in all things Buffy, the book may be slow-going for the average fan, but the glossary itself offers entertaining browsing for diehard and casual watchers of the show. "The micro-history of [the word] Buffy is a veritable saga," Adams writes with relish. Indeed, the glossary includes nearly 40 variations on the name: Buffyatrics (older fans of the show), Buffinator (Buffy herself or one who criticizes Buffy) and Franken-Buffy (monster in the guise of Buffy), to name just a few. Readers can also delight in a breakdown of Buffy's distinctive and amusing use of suffixes ("mathiness," "lunchable"), and its celebration of the prefix uber- ("ubernerd," "uberachiever"). Each exhaustive glossary entry includes parts of speech, etymology, definitions and illustrative quotations from magazine articles, posting boards and countless episodes (writer, date and speaker cited). Ultimately, the book is for a very niche audience of Slayer-obsessed linguists-other readers may be baffled by this blend of academia and pop-culture mania. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195160338
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
07/03/2003
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
9.56(w) x 6.38(h) x 1.04(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Adams is Professor of English, Albright College, Reading, Pennsylvania and the editor of Dictionaries: The Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America.

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