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When typing becomes talking, results can be totes hilar

ridictionaryYa know, convo once had legit vocab. *

(*You know, conversation once had legitimate vocabulary.)

Forget Esperanto. The digital age has spawned a universal language measured in brevity and propagated globally. Def. (Definitely.)

When the latest headline about the leader of the free world (that would be Obama) outs him for taking a "selfie" at a state funeral, you know the speaking world has gone, well, cray.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m conversant with shorthand and techno-speak. As a journalist, I long ago perfected the art of rapid note-taking, my pages peppered with abbreviations (bldg, wkshp, conf, lger) that only I could translate.

My late father, who would have turned 86 on New Year’s Eve but was far ahead of his time, had a penchant for speaking in acronyms. A favorite and frequent exhortation: QYB! (Quit Your Bitching!)

When my kids hit their teens, I thought they had mastered the art of lingual insouciance, given their ability to invoke disdain with a single word: “Whatever.”

Now I get terse text messages equally cloaked in attitude. Whatev. Obvi. Chillax.

Movies re-imagined with cyberspeak, from 'Totes Ridictionary'

Movies re-imagined with cyberspeak, from 'Totes Ridictionary'

No one is safe these days from this squeeze play on the English language. In the final play of Sunday’s Saints/Eagles game, I found myself texting my daughter: OMG OMG OMG.

Still, for someone born pre-World Wide Web (remembs?), the Twitter/texting lexicon, with its propensity for shortcuts and initials, offers plenty of pitfalls.

Redonk? Rando? ROFL? Really?

Apparently knowing this, Santa stuffed my stocking with Balthazar  Cohen’s Totes Ridictionary, a tongue-in-cheek glossary and guide to the new rule of English 101: If you write it, abbreviate it.

As the author points out, with the advent of texting and Twitter, brevity has become the name of the game: “The dictionary went under technology’s knife and experienced dramatic weight loss – getting the bikini body it had always craved, but at what cost?”

You have to love a book with an introduction titled, “The Internet: Where Language Goes to Die.”

Equally magnif: One chapter that re-imagines movies and pop art with totes ridic dialogue, and another that envisions what might be said by history and literature’s most famous couples … on Twitter.

I fought the language-butchering trend early on. In the stone age of Internet, around the late '90s, I reviewed a flashy new children's website for the Times-Picayune newspaper, and lambasted the authors for cutesy spellings like kool and krazy. Why, I asked, would you intentionally misspell words on a site that, at least at some level, was about education? The authors protested. They were simply being hip, they said.

Duh.

If dogs could tweet, from 'Totes Ridictionary'

If dogs could tweet, from 'Totes Ridictionary'

But I am losing the war here. I long ago jettisoned any hope that contemporary language will remain intact. So, in efforts to keep up with what’s totes imports in online convo, I offer a few amazeballs words from the Ridictionary glossary, along with verbal color analyst Cohen’s take on them.

  • Blates: blatantly. Writes Cohen, “Search for blates on Twitter and your eyes will be assaulted by a churning cesspool of barely comprehensible bilge, one that squarely aims a shotgun at the head of Written English and, at point-blank range, sprays its brains all over the wall.”
  • Ledge: legend. “No, not something you stand on while contemplating suicide. To show respect, offer praise or express admiration, choose ledge – the drunker, ballsier, manlier alternative to legend.”
  • Nause: to nauseate or annoy. “If you tweet pointless, witless dross about the minutiae of your life approximately once every three seconds, at least some of your followers will consider you a nause – someone so irritating that they turn people’s stomachs.”
  • Perf: perfect, perfectly. “Like perfect, but with fewer letters and less hope, perf is notably popular with individuals who’ve turned the quiet annihilation of other people’s self-esteem into an art form.”
  • Ridic: ridculous. “On the morally bereft streets of Twitter, ridic is one of the biggest, baddest muthafuckas out there, second-in-command only to totes, who seized power in a bloody coup at the turn of the twecade (Twitter decade).”

Even with Cohen's guidebook, I’m not certain that I have mastered this new lexicon of twerks, deets and awks. If language is ultimately about communication, I sometimes fear that I am lost in cyberspace, doomed to wander forev in a weird and meaningless forest of skeletal words that leave me bewildered.

Whatev. I will totes survive.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]