Posts Tagged ‘Dialogue in writing’

Buzz Words Can Be Funny

July 26, 2010

Several years ago, when our son came home from his brainiac college, we picked him up from the airport and he talked about his life at his school.

His face lit up.  “Mom, it’s the only place where you’ll be at a party and everyone will get in his heated discussion about integers.  Can you believe it?” 

Yes.  My son had found his nitch. 

Then he launched into descriptions of ideas, discussions, and projects he worked on.  I froze.  I swear I saw his mouth move.  Words flew out of it.  But what were they?  I didn’t recognize one of them, save for a preposition or a verb now and then.  But what about the rest of them?

What had happened to my son?  He had come back with a whole new vocabulary.  Nerd-smart-math and science buzz words.  Jargon.   And even real words that I’d never learn unless I took Advanced ThermoDynamics Calculus Applied Mathematics 999.

How could I begin to ask him questions?  I was too far behind in his dialogue now to begin.  So I just smiled and nodded and read his body language.  He was happy and content; that’s all I really cared about. 

Fortunately, my engineer math-minded husband was in the car too, so I could pump him for information once we were alone. 

When the time came, I drew Bob aside.  “So what was Tofer talking about on the way home?”

“You mean that story?”  he asked.

“Yes,” I said.  “Did you understand any of it?”

My husband smiled and shook his head.  “Not a word.”

Writing Prompts:

1.  Create a character with a passion or a specific career.  Research that passion or career.  What specific vocabulary and jargon go with that subject?  Write a scene where your character interacts with others in that field.  Or it could be funny where the character interacts with people NOT in her field, as what happened with my husband and me and my son. ( A fish-out-of-water experience.)

2.  What are the buzz words specific to your field?  How did you learn about them?

3.  Create a story where a character pretends to be someone she or he isn’t.  She/he  has to fake her way through a career or hobby, but doesn’t know the buzz words.  What happens?

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Of Wiles in Oz

November 23, 2009

Every geographic area has a language all of its own. Sometimes it’s an accent. Other times it’s a unique slang. Either way, communication may become muddled and amusing. On our first trip to Australia in 2005 for our son’s World Solar Challenge Race, we visited Kangaroo Island by way of ferry. Upon arriving, we met our tour guide and group in a van.
“Did you see any wiles, mate?” asked the guide.
Bob and I scratched our heads. We didn’t have our “wiles” about us at that moment.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
The guide repeated his question.
“Did you see any wiles?”
Again, Bob and I eyed each other. What now? Play charades?
Then it hit us. The guide was asking if we had seen any WHALES while we were on our ferry ride.

This time we noticed signs in Darwin. POKIES. Poker is a big game in Australia. With a British influence, Bob ate bangers (sausages) one day and I had fish and chips for lunch.
We hiked in the bush (Australian’s country’s wildlife area) and saw a willy willy. (dusty wind that spirals upward) Saw a kiwi (person from New Zealand) and ate a dog’s breakfast. (messy!)
Upon entering an early morning tour bus, the guide greeted us and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll stop for a bit of breaky soon.” (breakfast)
I took a picture of a kangaroo and with a “joey” in her pouch and she examined me closely for any signs of food for sharing. Alas, they don’t recommend feeding them, so I couldn’t give her anything at all. But she still did a thorough search.

Writing Exercise: What slang is prominent in your area? Are “your people” known for an accent? When I came from Wisconsin, I was teased here in California not only for my Midwestern drawl, but for my “Milwaukee-ease.” Later, I turned this type of slang into a humor article for a San Francisco newspaper.
1. List as many various slang words from your region as you can recall. You may begin this list today and continue it for awhile. Ask friends to help you! It might consist of phrases as well as words themselves.
2. What about the accent? Try and describe the accent and how it varies from other dialects you here.
3. Work your unique area into a short story, personal experience piece, poem or article. It can be humorous, serious, or a mixture of the two styles. Feel free to share any part of your dialect and slang. We’d love to hear the fun way the world communicates differently!