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The Stanford Patois

Inspired by Henry Fielding, The Covent Garden Journal
by Christine Chung

As one may argue that man is an animal to be judged by the tools he uses, words, the most fundamental, useful tool known to intelligent civilizations, are most in need of positive reinvention. Just as one must hope to metamorphose into a more industrious, more generous, more refined version of his current self, so too must the spirit of his words strive to remain close to its etymological meaning and remain understandable to every speaker of the language.
Despite the value in adhering to this philosophy, there has, as of late, been much confusion between those of the younger and of the elder generations as to the meaning of a certain number of words. Those words which are used in the straightforward, direct manner by one age group are unfortunately used rather promiscuously by the members of a more youthful sect of speakers.

I am thus vexed to admit that the commonest words have thereby transformed to adopt the strangest dual meanings. This is a harrowing thought when one considers that only writing (whether printed or inscribed) and uttered speech, aside from the endlessly subjective mediums of art, literature, theatre and music, are the only two vehicles of communication upon which the educated nations of mankind can depend.
I shall therefore endeavor to select the choicest of these words and conjure their meanings by means of a modern glossary. In doing so, I hope to enlighten readers and encourage them to beware of similar discrepancies in the English language, for to allow a word to depart entirely from its original etymological meaning and become subject to a wavering vernacular tradition would transform our common mother tongue into a degenerate Tower of Babel.

ABROAD. A place from which Stanford undergraduates return with a savoir vivre.
ATHLETE. An unhygienic creature commonly dressed entirely in Stanford gear.
AWKWARD. An adjective typically used to describe a gangly, sexually inexperienced male. Also, without an accompanying noun, an uncomfortable situation.
BEST. The most expensive. Young adults dependent on their parents’ income are commonly prone to this fallacy.
BICYCLIST. One who believes he is exempt from traffic laws and immune to automobile accidents.
BITCH. A term of endearment used by young women from Southern California.
CAFFEINE. A Stanford student’s lifeblood; often the primary provider of bodily sustenance during examination season.
CARBOHYDRATES. Previously considered a means of nourishment. In the modern usage, ‘carbs’ are something to be avoided at all costs.
DIVA. A raucous African American woman.
ENGINEER. See ‘Awkward.’
ENGLISH MAJOR. A social pariah or fool; often ridiculed on matters relating to careers and job searches (see ‘Job’ below).
ETIQUETTE. An antiquated term (definition unknown). In modern usate, an event where free food is served and dated table manners demonstrated.
FACEBOOK. A social networking website most frequented on one’s laptop during lectures.
FEMINIST. A female attending Stanford University.
FRIEND. A person whose photo one has seen repeatedly on Facebook.
GENTLEMAN. An endangered species.
GYM. A place where attractive students go to remain attractive, and where unattractive students go to be reminded that they are, indeed, unattractive.
HANDOUT. A low-quality printed sheet, often unreadable. Frequently distributed and read aloud by a professor in lieu of meaningful discussion.
HAPPY. Inebriated, or otherwise aided by a foreign substance.
HELL. The modern era’s ultimate destination.
INDIE. A genre of music, film, and art which, when mentioned in conversation, automatically endows the observer with social credibility.
IPOD. When powered on, an excuse for not responding to a socially undesirable person’s greeting.
JOB. A position said to be particularly elusive to those graduating pupils of the humanities.
KARAT. The measure women of marriageable age use to quantify love.
KARMA. A selfish justification for performing acts of generosity.
LEGAL. Of drinking age.
MARRIAGE. The prelude to divorce.
MEXICAN. Any person originating south of the United States.
NICE. Homely or plain.
ORGANIC. Better.
PROCRASTINATION. The only known means of completing assignments.
PROGRESSIVE. The American collegiate method of becoming inebriated; participants ‘progress’ from one room to the next, drinking as many alcoholic beverages as humanly possible.
QUAINT. To inhabitants of California, a small and dingy shack. To those from the Eastern coast of the United States, a romantic, idyllic abode.
REPUBLICAN. A foreigner to the Bay Area.
SLUT. A name a university-aged woman uses to describe another who is more attractive than she.
TUITION. An abstract value of money made real only when one is required to repay student loans.
ULTIMATUM. A war tactic invented by females to coerce their male counterparts.
UNIQUE. Misunderstood.
VEGAN. Picky.
WATER. A purchased beverage imported from abroad and encased in glass or plastic.
XYLOPHONE. The only illustrable word beginning with the letter ‘x’; thus, an instrument invented for alphabet picture books.
YARD. A measurement obsolete beyond the American football field.
YOUTH. That which the young desire to escape and the old to attain.
ZOMBIE. Animated corpses of the ‘waking dead’; commonly a reference to undergraduates during final examinations.

These aforementioned words are only a few of the many terms which have already begun to adopt insinuations which are now strangers to their original etymological meanings. Such terms are now burgeoning at an alarming rate, introducing new innuendos into the English language which are altogether disturbing to conceive of when considering the quest to improve language as a common tool of mankind. I dare not imagine how many other languages in the world are suffering from the same crippling disease of linguistic colloquialism, for the modern vernacular is altogether too vulgar for this essayist indeed.

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