Monday, 06 February 2006

Dude. Dude? Dude. Dude. People often ask "Whither that wistful look in your eye when you think about linguistics?" I never know how to respond. Now I do. The proper answer to that archaically phrased question is: Dude. Like seriously dude. [See how I deployed dude there? By addressing you, dear reader, as dude I marked our affiiation and connection by referencing our cool solidarity. As you may imagine, the pitch of of my voice heightened on the pronunciation of dude and fell, like, seriously on the like seriously.] You think I'm lying? Dude. [Now it's a confrontational stance attenuator. I'm simultaneously threatening and displaying cool solidarity with you. You know me and you are tight yo . . . but now our solidarity's been indexed by my enunciating dude in a low pitch with a barely perceptible flourishing rise and a slightly slighty elongated syllable.] Dude! [It functions here as an exclamative not unlike Whoa! The prosody of this dude varies depending on the nature of exclamation. Because I wanted it to mark a grievance with my interlocutor I did not elongate the syllable and drop pitch but instead turned the whole damn thing in a plosive exclamation.] Dude. [Now I'm marking our sympathetic agreement. 'Cause dude, I know you don't think this whole thing about dude makes me sound like an ass. So I used the dude of agreement to demonstrate the unconfrontational nature of our exchange while simultaneously retaining a measure of cool. You know?] Oh HELL yeah DUDE. [I'm happy you see it that way. I can tell by your unusual deployment of a dude intensifier that you index not merely an agreement but an enthusiastic agreement. I appreciate your decision to take this enthusiastic interpersonal stance because we both recognize the strength of our cool solidarity and need not enter into competitive interactions of the sort indexed by certain dude usages. The flexibility of dude as a marker of homosociality in America today means that you and I can dude each other as much as we'd like . . . even if we have passed the typical age range of nonstandard language usage. 'Cause dude, "adolescent peak" my ass.]

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