“Well Tim, do you know the answer?”
It was math class in our sixth grade year.
“Uuuuhhhh…” Tim said in utter confusion. “I’m cunfuzzlled” he bursts out in one of those oh-so comical moments that Tim was famous for at our old school.
“What?” the teacher responded at this time, as she was also now confuzzled.
At this time that was the first time that I had heard this word ever used or mentioned. Being that I was in sixth grade and this was the first time that I had ever heard the word used I naturally assumed that he had just made up the word. At the time, I also just assumed the definition to be basically and even higher tier of confusion and bewilderment than he knew how to express with any current words that he knew of.
“What are you doing?” My mom said one day when I was sitting on the couch playing a game on the computer.
“Sturf” I replied not really feeling like saying stuff would work there as a general enough word to fit this situation.
“Ok,” she said and walked away.
I wasn’t really all that sure of when exactly I started to say that word. I just remember that one day I had started to use it in place of stuff where I though it was necessary to describe the things I had or that I was doing when asked. I wasn’t really sure of where or why I had picked it up but regardless I did it’s done and now I use that word.
“Alright, orange stream today we’re going to take a walk down to the river for an activity”
It was last spring shortly before spring break.
“Hey, where are we going,” Fred said as the whole stream started to get up and walk outside while he just sat there.
“Derp, we’re going to the river the teacher just told us that” I said.
As opposed to the previous word that I didn’t know where I got it from I do know that I got this word from school and my friends. I had heard them using it and then after I really understood that they were saying and using another word entirely to describe what they thought to be indescribable with any other words that they currently had at their disposal did I start using it. Derp isn’t necessarily the nicest word to use but it’s not really a bad one it’s just a more over-arching version of saying or calling someone stupid.
In “How to tame a WIld Tongue” by Gloria Anzldúa the author while talking about how one of the languages that she uses came to be states, “Chicano Spanish sprang out of the Chicanos’ need to identify ourselves as a distinct people. We needed a language with which we could communicate with ourselves, a secret language. For some of us, language is a homeland closer than the Southwest”. The Chicanos developed their own language that they thought could describe what they needed to be described when they couldn’t use the language that they knew to describe what they needed to describe anymore.
Several years ago, when I was in the third grade, I read a book called, Frindle. It was a really funny book about a boy who finds a pen. He decided to call it a frindle just to see what would happen. As the school year progressed, his friends go along with it, but his teacher is not so excited. Soon, the whole school is calling a pen a “frindle”. The media catches wind of it and then a company begins selling frindles, and apparel with the word frindle on it. By the end of the story, the boy, a man now, receives a copy of a new dictionary with the word frindle in it. This story really got me thinking about how people just will make up the words to describe what needs to be described.
Long ago someone decided a couch would be called a couch and a book, a book. Why was that? Making up new words to describe the situation we’re in or the surroundings that we have is something that we all do. People needed to communicate with each other with more than just pictures. Soon these new words were accepted by others, used by society, and became the norm. The words became part of our daily usage. Our ever changing culture with recently developed ideas and inventions, add new words to our language constantly. If human nature follows its current path, there will be much more confuzzling language to come.
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