the danger of slang (courtesy of Sarah Silverman)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Dec 6 01:35:00 UTC 2008

Did anyone else catch this week's Kangamangus episode of the Sarah
Silverman show on Comedy Central, in which the life-threatening
properties of slang are revealed when violence escalates after a
thug, having been insulted by being called "dotnose", begins to shoot
up the solemn Oxford English Dictionary Word Induction Ceremony at
which "dotnose" is in fact being inducted into the Oxford English
Dictionary.  Sarah pushes her friend Brian, the coiner of the word,
out of harm's way and the bullet meant for him instead hits the
pompous British lexicographer representing the OED, but he is saved
when the bullet enters the pocket OED he has in his vest pocket (no
doubt alluding to all those movies in which shootees are saved from a
fatal bullet by their vest-pocket Bible).

Quote of the Year candidate, from the end of the show, with
sentimental music roiling up in the background:

'My name is Sarah Silverman, and I learned something today.  I
learned that slang can be dangerous and that sticks and stones *can*
break your bones and that words *can* ever [sic] hurt you. Tonight,
dotnose became a word in our dictionary. Well, let's not forget that
once, so did "holocaust" and "diarrhea". One of them happened.  And
one of them continues to happen".'

P.S.  If anyone is wondering, "dotnose" applies to a situation in
which someone is blissfully unaware of having been rendered
ridiculous by (e.g.) having a dot on the tip of his or her nose.

The American Dialect Society -

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