Who remembers Buffy? Hands up so I can see them!
OK. You can put them down now.
If you remember Buffy, you probably also remember some of the quirky language used in that show. Or maybe it was too long ago for you to remember. Let me check… oh my… it was longer ago than I had thought: 1997–2003.
This isn’t the place to discuss the real meaning of Buffy The Vampire Slayer; it isn’t even the place to remind you that Buffy, not Donald Trump, was the Chosen One. I merely want to make a few points about BuffySpeak and urge you to listen to a podcast on the topic. A surprising amount of academic attention has been devoted to this particular type of slang, resulting in papers with titles such as “Solidarity and the Scoobies: An Analysis of the -y Suffix In The Television Series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (I know, sounds almost like a parody of academic papers, but it isn’t.) I could come up with my own list of examples, but it seems pointless (no pun intended) when we have a perfectly good list already written for us:
- Using “thing” and/or “thingy” to express all manner of things, large and small (18).
- Turning words into made-up forms, using nouns as adjectives and vice versa (18); “Now she’s some kind of selling-stuff-type-person?” (“Life Serial”) (21).
- Adding made-up suffixes like “-y” and “-age” to words that don’t actually have them; slayage for death, missage for absence of a boyfriend, breakage of hearts, and sparkage for romantic feelings (20).
- Asking “[Adjective] much?” instead of saying “Stop being so [adjective]” (18).
- Referencing a typical well-known plot trope or using a plot trope to explain that a plot trope has taken or is about to take place. (18)
- Similar to -y, but used less frequently, is the suffix -ly. For this one we get dogly, denoting an unattractive boy and its antonym boyfriendly, and a college fraternity is fratly (20). There is also the phrase, “I appreciate it muchly” (“Life Serial”) (21).
- Something with a particular quality is described as -like. A domineering mother is described as Nazi-like, boys are guy-like, and the prom queen is Evita-like (20).
- The suffix -able is used to turn verbs into nonce (a word or expression coined for or used on one occasion) adjectives. We have doable meaning possible, unmeshable referring to things that don’t combine, lunchable describing a sexy male/female (usually used in reference to a person looking enticing to eat/kill in the case of vampires), and skippable denoting something unpleasant. The suffix -worthy is also used on occasion to serve the same purpose. We find both cringeworthy, meaning scary, and yawnworthy, meaning boring (18).
Go read the entire article that contains this list. And then listen to that podcast! Both of them are well worth your time.
PS: Which photo do you prefer?
Categories: Linguistics, Movies & (occasionally) TV