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Word Wednesday: Language Hijackings

8 February 2006

Anybody in the US back then: Remember the early 1980s? When you could stuff your LaChoy crispy noodles (“LaChoy makes Chinese food that [rat-a-tat-tat] swings American!” — ay ay ay, those heady 1970s; thank god I was too young to be responsible for them; but the LaChoy isn’t really important here, stay focused!) into your Le Bag, get into your Le Car, and zip off home for dinner, hoping for the day someone would “discover” quiche so you’d have something really tasty for dinner? And then you wouldn’t have to add “Le” in front of everything anymore to make it cool?

Well, I have just observed the mid-oughts new euro-cool catch-phrase (really, “catch-word”, but anyway): Boo-coo.

I first heard it a couple weeks ago by a woman in her late 50s. Born and bred Midwesterner. Very snazzy in her purple flats to go with her purple pants to go with her purple appliqued sweater, with her mega-body chin-length silver hair framing her face and shiny silver jewelry around her throat. She was talking about a young therapist dealing with a difficult psychological case, and to make her point mentioned that the young therapist in question found herself feeling boo-coo stress trying to make this case work out.

I let it go. I pretended to know what she was saying. (I don’t like to look a fool.) Later, in the car, I realized what she said. “Oh! She meant—” But then I was distracted by a driver, cell phone at ear, trying to make a left turn across my lane, so I was distracted and moved on to other thoughts.

On Saturday night, the two Imperatrixes-in-Training were at their first night “party”, 5 pm until 10 pm, so the Consort and I went out to dinner with a couple we know. Being the liberals we are (all 4 of us), the conversation got to state politics, and one of them, who works for the Natural Resources section of the state government, mentioned that all those out-of-state “consultants” this state is fond of using costs us all boo-coo bucks.

One is weird. Two is a trend. Why boo-coo? It sounds stupid. English has more words than any other language (so I’ve heard). That’s great, but I really don’t want to have to experience first-hand the word-swiping that keeps the language vibrant, especially when the word in question is said “boo-coo”. Yes, in fifty years it will be a part of the English language: used in newspapers and speeches, found in Merriam Webster’s 18th edition. But I tell you now, I will cringe every time I hear it. I will be boo-coo irked. Every time.

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