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Thursday, February 25, 2016
Politics ... Society ...

I’m not a philologist or etymologist, but when you read a lot of stuff about politics on the internet like I do, you notice the occasional word trend or catch-phrase evolving. The latest fashion in language appears to be a spelling substitution . . . instead of using the word “huge”, the trendy editors are writing “yuge”. For example, in this CBS News article, Bernie Sanders thanked his supporters after his victory in the New Hampshire Democratic primary two weeks ago, saying “Tonight, with what appears to be a record-breaking turnout, because of a ‘yuge’ voter turnout — and I say ‘yuge’ — we won”.

Now, why did the editor of that article believe that Senator Sanders intended the new “Y” variant of the old adjective “huge” to be used? I’ve read that that this new spelling variant is a take-off on Donald Trump, who often uses the word “huge” in his speeches and comments. Because of his New York accent, Trump stresses the “YE” sound at the beginning of the word. Perhaps he also adds this lilt for impact and emphasis. That would be very Donald Trump-like. And actually, Sanders is also a native Brooklynite despite his Vermont credentials, so it’s possible that his pronunciation is similar. In print, “yuge” attempts to capture the accent, along with the political urgency behind the usage.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of the “yuge” movement. The English language is famous for the fact that most words are not spelled phonetically. And perhaps that is for the best, given all the accents and variations with which the language is verbalized. For example, in Boston, a “car” would be spelled “cahh” if phonetics were followed. We need a common understanding, a lingua franca about what we put down on paper (or into computer digits). I really don’t want to see “yuge” become an accepted alternate to the standard spelling “huge”. On a more psychological level (one that in fact involves cars), “yuge” personally reminds me of the “Yugo“, a really terrible little car that was imported from Yugoslavia during the mid-1980s. I never had one, but I heard that they were poorly made; the whole idea that there were Yugos out and about on our roads was rather depressing. Thus, I’m not fond of the idea of “linguistic Yugo’s” running around on our literary roadways.

So far the damage seems limited; I’ve only seen the word used in reference to either Trump or Sanders. ‘Yuge” is a novel spelling twist that perhaps help to color the people it refers to. Hopefully, both the word and the politicians behind them are passing fads. And hopefully, both of those politicians will be out of the limelight by this time next year. By then, the political insurgencies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders will be history, and “yuge” will go the way of the Yugo.

I hope . . .

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:21 pm      
 
 


  1. Jim, I find myself looking at the changing of the English language and thinking in terms of how it changed from the real “Olde” English to Chaucer’s English to Shakespeare’s English to what we have now. (I may have missed some changes in between those I mentioned and conflated some.)

    I also find myself wondering just how many years (decades, centuries) it may take for a complete change to take place. But surely, without doubt, it seems to me that the change is taking place in present times; I do find myself wondering just what changes will last and which will be a passing fancy. Whether we like them or not, I think some of the changes will last until 500 years (or more) from now no one will be able to read English from the “early 2000’s”. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — March 6, 2016 @ 11:20 am

  2. MARY — thanks very much for the comment !! Glad that you are feeling a little bit better, hopes and prayers for your quick recovery. Jim G

    Comment by Jim G — March 6, 2016 @ 1:39 pm

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