bawals at NYTIMES.COM
Wed Jul 19 19:52:11 UTC 2006
I came across this article in another search. Apologies if it's a repeat.
NYT DC Research
SLABBED! and other Katrinaed words; Katrina patina
By KAT BERGERON
kbergeron at sunherald.com
21 May 2006
Have you been slabbed?
After Hurricane Katrina, did you become too familiar with shoveling shud,
that's a cross between mud and, you know, the bad "s" word?
Ever heard of ADD construction?
Do you live in an aluminum estate, aka FEMA trailer park? In an alumansion
(which needs little explanation)? How about a FEMA tin cando?
Is your memory Katrinaed?
Simply put, the vernacular of the Mississippi Coast has been Katrinaed. You
can chose to upper case the word Katrinaed or lower-case it just as
Americans tend to do when they improperly use Kleenex, Sheetrock or Jet
Skis as general terms instead of the proper names they are.
But why dwell on English lessons? Let's just have a good laugh over words
that were created or given new meaning because of the Aug. 29, 2005,
onslaught of Hurricane Katrina and/or its nine-month aftermath.
If someone says to you "Such and such happened PK," or "pre-K" would you
know they mean pre-Katrina, life before the storm?
It is definitely a different life now for the 300,000-plus people who lived
in the coastal counties. Rather than cry over spilt milk, some South
Mississippians choose to laugh over new words or abuse old words and
expressions that are part of our post-Katrina language.
Just ask Alice Jackson Baughn. She's a Jackson County writer and reporter
whose articles appear in national magazines.
"My favorite and most-used is slabbed, indicating that your house is gone,
leaving you with only a slab," says Baughn, who along with her mother,
brother and sister-in-law experienced her own slabbing from Katrina.
"I began using the term slabbed with my editors at Time and People shortly
after the storm, and it has stuck in both newsrooms. Now we toss it around
"I almost think we should begin to form groups of Katrina survivors who fit
into certain categories - those who were slabbed, those who were gutted,
those who don't want to collect possessions again... "
Slabbed and Katrinaed are likely to stay in common usage for a while. If
someone tells you her credit card has been Katrinaed, you know something
bad has happened, like identity theft. If someone says his memory is
Katrinaed or slabbed, or car, or profession, or free time, that's
But thankfully a lot of the shud is gone, these nine months later.
"Shud is the word that we use around my neighborhood in Pascagoula," said
Alice Kate Berry. "We live on the harbor and most of us got around 4-plus
feet of water in our houses. Shud is the stuff we scraped off of everything
She's not the only one.
"My favorite post-Katrina word is shud, a cross between sh-- and mud, what
a lot of people shoveled out of their houses," says Renee Gautier-Hague,
local history and genealogy librarian at Pascagoula Public Library.
"I heard that first from Libby Ray Watson, a friend of mine who lives on
Grant Street in Pascagoula and is recovering from Katrina. I think she said
this was coined by Danny Smith, a history teacher at Pascagoula High School."
The provenance of Katrinaed words can be hard to track. Ever heard of a
trouse? That, according to Tricia Taylor of DeLisle, is a trailer that
looks like a house, as much as such a thing is possible.
Taylor also talks of ADD construction, and if you haven't figured it out
yet, it's for Attention Deficit Disorder. Anyone who has encountered the
short attention span of some contractors and construction workers can have
a laugh over that one. Taylor believes hosed is another good word for
something that is still standing but heavily damaged.
Anne Stanley's D'Iberville son lives in his aluminum estate, a FEMA trailer
on Back Bay where his house used to stand. The extended Stanley family has
gone a bit further with alumansion, a nice name for a tiny trailer.
It seems all ages are doing this word-creation thing. Nannett Burke's
fifth-grade class at Nativity BVM School in Biloxi put together a Katrina
vocabulary to express what they, their families and the Coast are
Among the made-up words are shice for sharing and nice, as in "The people
who are helping us are shice." Another is waygone, for way and gone as in
"Mrs. Burkes' things blew so far away, they are waygone." Far from last or
least is their floodaster (flood and disaster), as in "Many suffered from a
floodaster caused by Katrina."
Katrinaisms began appearing on the Web and blogs not long after the storm.
Ellis Anderson of Bay St. Louis, who had an Old Town business, included
words she heard or thought up in her blog.
"My absolute favorite new phrase is Katrina patina, she says. "Anything
that survived the storm is coated with sludge, discolored, mangled, at
least to some degree. It's got that Katrina patina."
Even people, insists Anderson, have Katrina patina. And what about that
Katrina cough, a persistent, usually unexplainable hacking nearly everyone
Then there's the category of folks who conform old words to a new
situation. Art restorer Alice Scialdone of Gulfport goes around quoting
Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov, "Any idiot can face a crisis, it's the Day
Two living that wears you out," then she laughs, and with a nod to Neil
Sedaka, declares, "cleaning up is hard to do!"
Another play on lyrics comes from 72-year-old Joan Hollon of Gautier, who
does a takeoff on "This Old House," made popular by a number of singers
including Rosemary Clooney.
This is Hollon's version: "This old house once knew my children, this house
once knew my wife; now it's torn and tattered; it now belongs to the ants;
Ain't going to need this house no longer; Ain't going to need this house no
more; I'm getting ready to sell the floor."
"That song reminds me of Katrina as I ride around and look at at the
houses," said Hollon. "Everything's gone but the floors. There's no house
to sell. Just slabs."
Yup, many who live on the Coast are slabbed.
Here's a sampling of Katrina'd words and phrases submitted by Sun Herald
readers in recent months:
ADD Construction (attention deficit disorder of builders)
Alumansion, candominimum (one FEMA trailer)
Aluminium estate (one or more FEMA trailers)
Floodaster (flood and disaster)
Gone (pronounced gonnee )
Gutted (studs, maybe roof remain)
Horaster (horrible disaster)
Hosed (still standing but heavily damaged)
It's just a thang (oft-heard old expression)
Katrina brain (memory loss from stress, time consumption)
Katrina patina (the visible coating storm left on people and things)
Shud (mucky substance deposited by Katrina, cross between mud and sh--)
Slabbed (nothing left of building but the cement slab)
Tin cando (FEMA trailer/condominium)
Tin-U (FEMA trailer)
Troused (trailer that looks like a house)
Waygone (gone very far away)
Worn out from Day 2 living (weary from post-Katrina demands)
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
More information about the Ads-l