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Of these six, verb doubling, overgeneralization, anthropomorphization, and (especially) spoken inarticulations have become quite general; but soundalike slang is still largely confined to MIT and other large universities, and the `-P' convention is found only where LISPers flourish.
"The disk heads just crashed." "Lose, lose."
"Mostly he talked about his latest crock. Flame, flame."
"Boy, what a bagbiter! Chomp, chomp!"
Some verb-doubled constructions have special meanings not immediately obvious from the verb. These have their own listings in the lexicon.
The Usenet culture has one tripling convention unrelated to this; the names of `joke' topic groups often have a tripled last element. The first and paradigmatic example was alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork (a "Muppet Show" reference); other infamous examples have included:
Boston Herald => Horrid (or Harried) Boston Globe => Boston Glob Houston (or San Francisco) Chronicle => the Crocknicle (or the Comical) New York Times => New York Slime
However, terms like these are often made up on the spur of the moment. Standard examples include:
Data General => Dirty Genitals IBM 360 => IBM Three-Sickly Government Property -- Do Not Duplicate (on keys) => Government Duplicity -- Do Not Propagate for historical reasons => for hysterical raisins Margaret Jacks Hall (the CS building at Stanford) => Marginal Hacks Hall
This is not really similar to the Cockney rhyming slang it has been compared to in the past, because Cockney substitutions are opaque whereas hacker punning jargon is intentionally transparent.
A: "Yeah, I'm pretty hungry." or "T!"
At any time:
A: (Straight) "I'm about to go home."
A: (Humorous) "Yes, the world has a state."
On the phone to Florida:
Q: "State-p Florida?"
A: "Been reading JARGON.TXT again, eh?"
[One of the best of these is a Gosperism. Once, when we were at a Chinese restaurant, Bill Gosper wanted to know whether someone would like to share with him a two-person-sized bowl of soup. His inquiry was: "Split-p soup?" -- GLS]
Hackers enjoy overgeneralization on the grammatical level as well. Many hackers love to take various words and add the wrong endings to them to make nouns and verbs, often by extending a standard rule to nonuniform cases (or vice versa). For example, because
porous => porosity
generous => generosity
hackers happily generalize:
mysterious => mysteriosity
ferrous => ferrosity
obvious => obviosity
dubious => dubiosity
Another class of common construction uses the suffix `-itude' to abstract a quality from just about any adjective or noun. This usage arises especially in cases where mainstream English would perform the same abstraction through `-iness' or `-ingness'. Thus:
win => winnitude (a common exclamation)
loss => lossitude
cruft => cruftitude
lame => lameitude
Some hackers cheerfully reverse this transformation; they argue, for example, that the horizontal degree lines on a globe ought to be called `lats' -- after all, they're measuring latitude!
Also, note that all nouns can be verbed. E.g.: "All nouns can be verbed", "I'll mouse it up", "Hang on while I clipboard it over", "I'm grepping the files". English as a whole is already heading in this direction (towards pure-positional grammar like Chinese); hackers are simply a bit ahead of the curve.
However, hackers avoid the unimaginative verb-making techniques characteristic of marketroids, bean-counters, and the Pentagon; a hacker would never, for example, `productize', `prioritize', or `securitize' things. Hackers have a strong aversion to bureaucratic bafflegab and regard those who use it with contempt.
Similarly, all verbs can be nouned. This is only a slight overgeneralization in modern English; in hackish, however, it is good form to mark them in some standard nonstandard way. Thus:
win => winnitude, winnage
disgust => disgustitude
hack => hackification
Further, note the prevalence of certain kinds of nonstandard plural forms. Some of these go back quite a ways; the TMRC Dictionary includes an entry which implies that the plural of `mouse' is meeces, and notes that the defined plural of `caboose' is `cabeese'. This latter has apparently been standard (or at least a standard joke) among railfans (railroad enthusiasts) for many years.
On a similarly Anglo-Saxon note, almost anything ending in `x' may form plurals in `-xen' (see VAXen and boxen in the main text). Even words ending in phonetic /k/ alone are sometimes treated this way; e.g., `soxen' for a bunch of socks. Other funny plurals are `frobbotzim' for the plural of `frobbozz' (see frobnitz) and `Unices' and `Twenices' (rather than `Unixes' and `Twenexes'; see Unix, TWENEX in main text). But note that `Unixen' and `Twenexen' are never used; it has been suggested that this is because `-ix' and `-ex' are Latin singular endings that attract a Latinate plural. Finally, it has been suggested to general approval that the plural of `mongoose' ought to be `polygoose'.
The pattern here, as with other hackish grammatical quirks, is generalization of an inflectional rule that in English is either an import or a fossil (such as the Hebrew plural ending `-im', or the Anglo-Saxon plural suffix `-en') to cases where it isn't normally considered to apply.
This is not `poor grammar', as hackers are generally quite well aware of what they are doing when they distort the language. It is grammatical creativity, a form of playfulness. It is done not to impress but to amuse, and never at the expense of clarity.
monstrosity brain-damage screw bug lose misfeature
crock kluge hack win feature elegance perfection
The last is spoken of as a mythical absolute, approximated but never actually attained. Another similar scale is used for describing the reliability of software:
broken flaky dodgy fragile brittle
solid robust bulletproof armor-plated
Note, however, that `dodgy' is primarily Commonwealth Hackish (it is rare in the U.S.) and may change places with `flaky' for some speakers.
Coinages for describing lossage seem to call forth the very finest in hackish linguistic inventiveness; it has been truly said that hackers have even more words for equipment failures than Yiddish has for obnoxious people.
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