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21 September 2014
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Nonsense talk
People are in search of changes as a result of this they create new languages and different styles in speaking we can also say we adapt differences in a changing world ;) Tuba, Turkey
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Why do we talk nonsense?
Neologisms
Pure rubbish

Nonsense talk by Steven Green

Why do we talk nonsense?
Sometimes nonsense spills out of us unconsciously. For example, when having a chat with the dog about what they want for dinner, or perhaps when cooing at a particularly lovely baby. Other times it seems to hijack the serious point we are trying to make and leaves a trail of extended hyperbole and mangled meaning in its wake. Politicians seem particularly prone to this.

table top
play audio Listen to Portuguese friends in Lincolnshire talking about British nonsense. More...
Nonsense talk is an everyday part of our language yet it's often confined to our most relaxed or intimate moments. Just as we rarely speak according to the rules of correct grammar all the time, so it follows that the words we speak aren't always confined to being in the dictionary.

When people are asked what the purpose of language is, the most common answer is communication. Without language, how could we possibly convey thoughts and ideas to fellow humans? But what happens when the words we use just don't seem to make sense, when we're talking and the words we use are a load of old chouff?

Wof bish I shned thesby lok nextim inse toala gibbish? Understandy? But does language like this serve a purpose?

Think about the words you use in relaxed conversation, especially with family and friends (and maybe even pets and animals). You may use specific words only within those specific groups - this is termed a 'sociolect'. It's an important part of the group-forming process, binding you together in something only your particular group does. So it follows that your group may have a vocabulary of made-up words, modified words, or existing words used out of context.

I can identify various words and phrases from different groups of friends. In one group, the word 'stick' replaced a seemingly random selection of words, for example:

Save my stick - Save my seat

Nice stick-work - A compliment, as in, you've done that rather well.

Check the stick-work on that - Not necessarily a compliment, but used in reference to another person, animal or object that perhaps exhibited exceptional characteristics. For example a crazy haircut, a chewed-up armrest on a sofa or a dented car door.


Of course, if I momentarily forgot which group I was with and used the wrong words associated with that group, I could well find my seat hadn't been reserved or my compliment hadn't been taken quite as expected...

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Your Comments
What nonsense words do you use?

ATF from the Philippines
My senior class had a habit of using made-up words and phrases as a way to communicate without the teachers understanding. What started off as a 'language' that only forty people understood became a slang phenomenon that spread not only to the other classes but to other schools around our district. It surprises me that changing the meaning of words or inventing new ways to call common objects and getting other people to do the same could be so easy.

Liam from Scotland
We have invented a selection of words in my group of friends, or give alternate meanings to words, such as the term "polar bear" meaning a very attractive person. Most of these come from times when someone didn't choose their words carefully, or used the wrong word, such as with polar bear when someone intended to say it was breathing erratically, but accidentally said erotically. Voila, a new word. This kind of things means we can talk about whatever we like without being understood, which has many advantages. We also, however, have our own morphemes too, such as -age, whilst a standard suffix in english (sometimes), it can be added to any verb at all around my friends, or even onto a noun to create a noun-from-a-verb, such as "townage" means going to town.

Dieter Fischer from Adelaide
The way you talk to a person reflects the way you respect the person. I talk no less affectionate to my dog than I would to my children. To both it's all nonsense.

Ángel from Spain
It is pitiful to see your country fellowmen repudiating Spanish in the name of cultural richness, but it is worse to realise that such things happen in countries like the UK as well.

Tuba From Turkey
people are in search of changes as a result of this they create new languages and different styles in speaking we can also say we adapt differences in a changing world ;)





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