Monday, February 05, 2007

I know that there's nothing more boring and insipid than talking (especially complaining) about the weather. That said, when I walked to class this morning, it was minus-9. That's just not cool. You know what I mean.

I did make it to the gym the last two days, which made me realize that if I can make it in sub-zero weather, then excuse that I ever come up with in L.A. will have the slightest bit of credibility. At all.

Occasionally I listen to old Loveline episodes at the gym. I was listening to an episode from 2003 today, and some caller used the word "hella" completely unironically. This got me to thinking: why do some slang words catch on for a time then fade away, while others become a permanent part of the vernacular? Of those that fade, some of them truly die out while others stick around but only as signifiers of a bygone time. For instance, "groovy" can't really be used ironically, but always carries some suggestion of cheesy '70s-ness; "awesome" on the other hand has a little bit of that for the '80s, but I think by now it can be used in its own right unironically.

So whither hella? My hunch is that it's fallen off, but then again I've only spent 3 of the last 30 months in California and only 3 days of that in Northern California, which I think is the epicenter of hella. If I had to guess, hella will always be associated with about 1999 and/or being slightly stoned. I have mixed feelings about this. I feel that hella filled a bizarre void or lacuna in the language--a simple, one-word slang term for "very"--that no other word adequately fills. But then it's just such a stupid-sounding word out of anyone over the age of 15 and/or not carrying a surfboard at all, that I would much prefer that some other term step in to fill that void.

But just for old times sake: it's hella fuckin' freezing out there.

3 comments:

Richard Mason said...

I associate hella with Wil Wheaton-- I guess just because I first heard it (read it) from him.

Phil said...

I think "hella" could serve a purpose, but not as a "very" synonym. "Very" and "really" don't seem too stodgy -- "It's very fucking cold" seems pretty decent to me, although "very" sounds a bit formal next to "fucking," giving the sentence a bit of an edge that "hella fucking" wouldn't have. "It's really fucking cold" or "It's real fucking cold" both seem about right.

"Hella"'s true place in the world should be as a contraction for "helluva," as in "that's a hella good place to eat/drink/dump a body." Since that's never been the way "hella" was used, I sadly join the call for its eventual death.

Brian said...

I hear "hella" used unironically from Berkeley High miscreants hanging out downtown during their lunch break from time to time.

I think of "wicked" as the Boston/New England version of "hella" in that it's slightly interesting to hear when used by someone unironically but grating otherwise.