July 30, 2010

You've Got a Frenemy in Me

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Be forewarned: this post has nothing to do with my job. I'm still way too over it to discuss it.

I've been listening to a This American Life about frenemies; stories of the friends you hate to love, love to hate, and for one reason or another, just can't quit (even if you wish you knew how). There's stories about women who became frenemies after dating the same dude, sister frenemies, and even the invention of the word "frenemy" which apparently can be attributed all the way back to the Bhagavad Gita.

When talking about portmanteaus like frenemy, Ira Glass consulted a woman from the Oxford English Dictionary who shares my disdain for people who believe that they've "invented" words simply by combining two other ones. Por ejemplo, "linner." It's like brunch, but I'm sure you can figure out which two meals it's between. A girl in my junior high thought that her family invented the word, and she thought it was actually a good word. But that's not my favorite example. My favorite example is much more recent and ridiculous. I'm talking about how Sarah Palin recently likened herself to Shakespeare in defense of using the word "refudiate."

If she'd only used it once, I'd cut her slack; who amongst us hasn't been thinking of two words to use and instead of choosing one, creates a new hybrid? Remember on Mean Girls when LiLo's character starts to say "great" and then decides to say "cool" and it comes out "grool"? We've all been there. But then Palin also used "refudiate" on her Twitter feed and could not attribute such an action to tongue-tiedness, and decided to call upon W's infamous "misunderestimate" and Obama's nonsensical "wee-wee'd up" and claim that she's just participating in word creation in the great tradition of the Bard.

But of course, the Prez was just using seriously dorky (and in my opinion, totally non-presidential) slang to describe people with ants in their pants (way more presidential), and we all know what mastery of the English language Bush II possessed. And in fairness to my old 7th grade English classmate, she was 12 at the time. But I still remember thinking she sucked, not only for believing she invented a word that is clearly not difficult to invent, but also being proud of it. "It's like, between lunch and dinner!!" If I had had my shit together at the time, I would have said something like "wow, that's really lad. That's like, between lame and sad." But because I wanted to be invited to her birthday party, I laughed. And frenemyship had begun.

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