Author Topic: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?  (Read 745 times)

Treehugger

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I realize that with texting the gap between spoken and written languages has narrowed quite dramatically in recent years (plus we have text-ese now too). But still there are words which will we say in informal conversation which we hardly ever write. I know because a few years ago I tried writing one of these words in a text message and realized that I didn’t know how to spell it and couldn’t remember even having seen it written. Frustratingly, I have totally forgotten what this particular word was.

Yesterday in a French/English conversation exchange, my French language pal tried to teach me a very informal word for “being so tired that you feel like there is a bunch of cotton in your head.” I had never heard the word before and asked her to write it for me, but she said that she had never seen it written and had no idea how to spell it. So, all I got was that it was two syllables, had some [k] sounds in it and at least one open nasal vowel.

In any case, I was wondering if anyone else has had an experience similar to what I described in the first paragraph (or I suppose the second if you are studying a foreign language)? If so, what was the word in question? And when you write it, which you will inevitably do here :), did you make up a spelling? Look it up on-line? Or....? 

Hegemony

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2020, 06:50:54 AM »
I know some American dialect words that are like that. "Criminetly" (an exclamation that is a variant of "Criminy") and one I've only heard in my family, though my mother said it was common in her area when she was growing up: "auskyspeeled."  Pronounced OWS-kee-speeld. "Aus" to rhyme with "house,"  or like German aus.  I assume auskyspeeled is derived from German ausgespielt; she grew up in an area heavily settled by Germans. It means "all turned around," as in "I was trying to put on my sweater but it was all auskyspeeled."  Both of those spellings are just my guesses; I have never seen them written down.

Parasaurolophus

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2020, 07:06:20 AM »
Was it 'crevé'?
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Treehugger

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2020, 07:43:09 AM »
Was it 'crevé'?

Nope. I know that one. And it’s pretty standard ....

Maybe it was dialect (although I don’t think educated 30 somethings in France speak much dialect) or some semi-invented word used by her circle. I’ll have to ask her again next time we talk.

apl68

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 07:44:04 AM »
I know some American dialect words that are like that. "Criminetly" (an exclamation that is a variant of "Criminy") and one I've only heard in my family, though my mother said it was common in her area when she was growing up: "auskyspeeled."  Pronounced OWS-kee-speeld. "Aus" to rhyme with "house,"  or like German aus.  I assume auskyspeeled is derived from German ausgespielt; she grew up in an area heavily settled by Germans. It means "all turned around," as in "I was trying to put on my sweater but it was all auskyspeeled."  Both of those spellings are just my guesses; I have never seen them written down.

Yes, there are a lot of colloquialisms like that.  I've never seen "vydock" (A regional variation on "viaduct," as in a railroad viaduct) spelled.  I grew up hearing it all the time.  As nearly as I can tell, it's peculiar to a few towns in Arkansas that have railroad viaducts with street underpasses.  Locals speak of driving under the vydock, of it flooding when it rains, of an out-of-town school band bus driving under and getting their instruments knocked off the top, etc.

ergative

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2020, 08:17:05 AM »
A whole nother.

Always looks wrong written; always sounds natural spoken.

Treehugger

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2020, 08:53:42 AM »
A whole nother.

Always looks wrong written; always sounds natural spoken.

That’s a great example. Like you say, it’s perfectly natural spoken, but written? Looks pretty weird.

I’m taking a look at this Merriam Webster article on the expression.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 08:56:25 AM by Treehugger »

Parasaurolophus

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2020, 10:16:21 AM »
Was it 'crevé'?

Nope. I know that one. And it’s pretty standard ....

Maybe it was dialect (although I don’t think educated 30 somethings in France speak much dialect) or some semi-invented word used by her circle. I’ll have to ask her again next time we talk.

Hmm. I can think of two more options that might fit the criteria: 'cassé' or 'claqué'.


I've got another French one that my family uses all the time, but which I've never seen written: kanechas ("kahn-chah"). (What Québeckers would call 'des bébelles', and Anglos might know as tchotchkes or kinck knacks. I'm reasonably certain it's Walloon and inherited from Flemish, but I've never seen it.)


I'm following this thread with interest, because I can't think of any English words like this, although surely there are some that I know but can't think of! Apart from 'nother', I haven't seen any yet!
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Treehugger

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2020, 11:08:42 AM »
Was it 'crevé'?

Nope. I know that one. And it’s pretty standard ....

Maybe it was dialect (although I don’t think educated 30 somethings in France speak much dialect) or some semi-invented word used by her circle. I’ll have to ask her again next time we talk.

Hmm. I can think of two more options that might fit the criteria: 'cassé' or 'claqué'.


Not those either, unfortunately.

When she offered the word she was really hesitant as if she were a little embarrassed about it. She said it was “really, really familiar” and implied that she maybe shouldn’t have brought it up.

Quote
I've got another French one that my family uses all the time, but which I've never seen written: kanechas ("kahn-chah"). (What Québeckers would call 'des bébelles', and Anglos might know as tchotchkes or kinck knacks. I'm reasonably certain it's Walloon and inherited from Flemish, but I've never seen it.)


Actually, when I was trying to think of spoken/non-written words when I made up this thread, “tchotchkes” came to mind. I had no idea how to spell it, so I guessed with “chotchkes“ and got pretty close. But maybe people don’t write it a lot just because it’s hard to spell not because it belongs almost exclusively to spoken language.

Another unwritten word that my husband and I used to use all the time when we moved from the East coast to an ostensibly boring flyover state was “statriotic,” but that was clearly unwritten because we had just invented it ourselves. So it’s not really the same thing. Besides, it’s pretty clear how it would be spelled if it were a word (like I just did).

Puget

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2020, 11:09:11 AM »
Not a word, but a word-form-- in the mountain west (and maybe elsewhere, I don't know) you still sometimes hear "store boughten" (rather than "bought) as the opposite of home-made. It's not the sort of things you'd normally see written, except maybe as dialog, and I've never heard the archaic form boughten used anywhere except in that phrase.
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jimbogumbo

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2020, 12:01:29 PM »
I know some American dialect words that are like that. "Criminetly" (an exclamation that is a variant of "Criminy") and one I've only heard in my family, though my mother said it was common in her area when she was growing up: "auskyspeeled."  Pronounced OWS-kee-speeld. "Aus" to rhyme with "house,"  or like German aus.  I assume auskyspeeled is derived from German ausgespielt; she grew up in an area heavily settled by Germans. It means "all turned around," as in "I was trying to put on my sweater but it was all auskyspeeled."  Both of those spellings are just my guesses; I have never seen them written down.

I used to read the word criminently a lot in YA books written in the first half of the 20th century.

traductio

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2020, 12:03:38 PM »
Not a word, but a word-form-- in the mountain west (and maybe elsewhere, I don't know) you still sometimes hear "store boughten" (rather than "bought) as the opposite of home-made. It's not the sort of things you'd normally see written, except maybe as dialog, and I've never heard the archaic form boughten used anywhere except in that phrase.

I grew up an Air Force brat with North Dakotan parents, and "boughten" was what we said. I had to train it out of my vocabulary (just like I had to learn to pronounce "bag" or "flag" with a short 'a' rather than "bay-g" or "flay-g"). I suspect there's a correlation between people who use "boughten" and those who put "with" at the end of sentences with "come" ("you gonna stay here, or are you gonna come with?").

Treehugger

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2020, 12:57:31 PM »
Not a word, but a word-form-- in the mountain west (and maybe elsewhere, I don't know) you still sometimes hear "store boughten" (rather than "bought) as the opposite of home-made. It's not the sort of things you'd normally see written, except maybe as dialog, and I've never heard the archaic form boughten used anywhere except in that phrase.

I grew up an Air Force brat with North Dakotan parents, and "boughten" was what we said. I had to train it out of my vocabulary (just like I had to learn to pronounce "bag" or "flag" with a short 'a' rather than "bay-g" or "flay-g"). I suspect there's a correlation between people who use "boughten" and those who put "with" at the end of sentences with "come" ("you gonna stay here, or are you gonna come with?").

Is there anything wrong with “come with?” I use it frequently as short for “come with us?” where the “us” is implied.

Along these lines, though, I find “pouring down” as in “it was pouring down rain” bothersome. (One of my SILs speaks like this. In fact, guess where I got this example?) Last I checked, rain doesn’t pour up, so really why the “down?” But this is more a colloquialism than something that wouldn’t be written. I’m guessing that if my SIL ever decided to blog or send us an email about their sh!tty weather, she would just write as she speaks.

Vkw10

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2020, 01:04:57 PM »
Many of my much older relatives and their friends used “mehaf” to refer to their spouses. My maternal grandparents used “mehaf” when speaking of each other. They were born in the 1890s, attended school when not needed on the farm, and were proud that all nine of their children had the opportunity to attend high school.   I haven’t heard “mehaf” used since Granny passed away during my first year of college, but I found a few letters she’d written while clearing my mother’s house. She used “mehaf” in a letter to my mother, written not long after my parents moved to the city in the 1960s, but that’s the only time I’ve seen it written.

I suspect “mehaf” was a mangled version of “my better half” which I often heard my older paternal relatives use. That   side of the family lived in town, where attending school didn’t require walking quite so far.
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Puget

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Re: Words that exist almost entirely in spoken, not written language?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2020, 01:10:08 PM »
Not a word, but a word-form-- in the mountain west (and maybe elsewhere, I don't know) you still sometimes hear "store boughten" (rather than "bought) as the opposite of home-made. It's not the sort of things you'd normally see written, except maybe as dialog, and I've never heard the archaic form boughten used anywhere except in that phrase.

I grew up an Air Force brat with North Dakotan parents, and "boughten" was what we said. I had to train it out of my vocabulary (just like I had to learn to pronounce "bag" or "flag" with a short 'a' rather than "bay-g" or "flay-g"). I suspect there's a correlation between people who use "boughten" and those who put "with" at the end of sentences with "come" ("you gonna stay here, or are you gonna come with?").

Interesting-- I wonder what the "boughten" zone is? I'm guessing Dakotas west as far as eastern Washington and Oregon, but really have no idea.
Reminds me of the NYT dialect quiz, which is still available to play around with: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/dialect-quiz-map.html

I think it's too bad that American English is becoming more homogenous--the regional variations are interesting and a link to historic migration patterns and local cultures.
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