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9/11 slang

Posted by Lotg on September 12, 2004

In Reply to: 9/11 slang posted by Brian from Shawnee on September 11, 2004

: : What 9/11 words and expressions entered our language on a permanent basis?

: : I haven't heard any of the following lately so they may have faded out.

: : SEPTEMBER 10TH -- adj. "Clinton's policy fluency -- and unmatched ability to explain a complex world -- are already missed in some quarters. But he still must confront the perception that he's a little 'September 10th.' Not a relic; too young and forward-thinking for that, but less relevant than he once seemed." Newsweek, April 8, 2002.

: : SEPT. 11 SLANG - "Some schoolchildren in suburban D.C. have already absorbed the 9/11 terrorist attacks into their slang, according to The Washington Post. A mean teacher is 'such a terrorist'; punishment meted out by the principal is 'a total jihad'; an unfashionable outfit might be dubbed a 'burqa'; petty problems are dismissed as 'so Sept. 10.' Kids say it's just their way of dealing with the madness they witnessed in September, but the Post's Emily Wax quotes headshrinkers who say the jokes might be masking some deep fears about terrorism. Whatever, say some of the teens. 'If you're weird, people might call you Taliban or ask if you have anthrax,' said Najwa Awad, a Palestinian-American student in Falls Church, Va. 'Sept. 11 has been such a stressful thing that it's OK to joke a little bit. It's funny.'" From "Out of the mouths of babes," March 28, 2002, Thomas Nord, The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.)

: Yeah, seems like they've faded. I once said I'd only root for the New York Yankees if they were playing against the Taliban All-Stars. It was funny at the time (to me) but I haven't used that one in a while, either.

It concerns me when I hear or read such comments as "but the Post's Emily Wax quotes headshrinkers who say the jokes might be masking some deep fears about terrorism."

Perleasse. Slang is a constant, ever developing part of our lives, as are tasteless jokes. And topical events are always triggers. When I was a kid we had Vietnam war jokes and slang. I remember a fancy dress party where the theme was 'come as your favourite dead person'. One person came dressed as a Bhopal gas victim. Totally tasteless. But that sort of thing's been going on for aeons. Sometimes I think we try too hard to believe that we're suffering from some deep psychological trauma, when in fact, we're just behaving the same way human beings have behaved forever. I also think that as kids we were/are even more removed from the reality of these types of situations, so we really did think we were being funny or clever.

Now - on the other hand, if you were to tell me that any of those kids had any direct connection to the Sept 11 tragedy, then OK, I'd be looking twice at them and thinking they were finding ways to deal with trauma. But if we're just speaking generally, as I think we are, then I just think that it's kids just being kids - and often, even though these comments are tasteless, if you look a bit deeper, sometimes they're also quite clever.