Today I want to talk to you about interjections. More specifically, I want to talk to you about the post modern interjections we seemingly use every day. But first (from Merriam-Webster):
Interjection (n): an ejaculatory utterance usually lacking grammatical connection…
Sure I know there’s something in grammar that’s called an ejaculation but I’m not gonna say what I was thinking at first.
So yeah. Awesome! Cool Beans! Cray Cray! Amazeballs! These few words are creeping into more of our everyday speech. If you’re like me, you would shake your head at that last sentence. “Surely Flobo, there’s no way words like that would run amok in my vernacular.”
First, I say get that monocle off your face. Secondly, thanks to the Internet, some words that seem to be regional or community-specific are mixing with our everyday speech. Twenty years ago I, or a younger more attractive version of I, noticed there was only one type of person that would say things like “Like, Totally!,” “Gnarly,” and “Whatever!” in a sentence: Characters that were Southern California stereotypes. And for those of you who were more familiar with Southern California, the term “Valley Girl” (or Guy) made more sense. What about today?
Here’s an experiment. Head to a coffee shop (or library, or park, or what have you) and eavesdrop on a conversation. Take note as to how many times people use “like” as a hedge word. That is, how many times they say like to stall as they think to complete their next thought. It truly is fascinating.
But I digress. This is about interjections. More importantly, this is about why we use the kinds of interjections that we do.
It seems when someone is ecstatic the word “Amazing!” is used over others. When something is really appealing or interesting it’s “Awesome” as opposed to “Keen” “Far Out” and “Superlative.” As you can see interjections vary on time period and the background of the person speaking. The problem that arises is one of overuse, “awesome” in particular. What was once a mammoth word to describe something just on this side of comprehension (i.e. an “awesome God”) has become a word that is used when someone finishes an uninteresting story (i.e. “That’s awesome. So what’s for lunch?”)
That’s definitely something to consider when drafting your characters. Everyone remembers Doc Brown’s exclamation of “Great Scott!” from the “Back To The Future” movies because it was different, and actor Christopher Lloyd said it with such conviction. Take a moment to think how the characters you create would act when something surprises them. A character that says “Holy Sh!t!” brings a different set of personality traits to the table than a character that would say, “Egad!”
Just CRAYCRAY food for AWESOME thought!