It’s groovy, man, groovy…

englishiscrazy

I just read an article over at the Spectrum entitled “The English language is state of in demise” (sic) in which writer Dan Murphy laments the abysmal condition of our language among modern speakers, largely thanks to the ubiquitous text/chat/Twitter/Facebook phenomenon. As to the headline itself, I don’t know if that’s just a terribly ironic typo or whether I’m missing something.

Regardless (or irregardless, depending on which side of that argument you happen to fall), the article reminded me of this little piece; the terminology is more at home in a beatnik coffee shop and has largely ceased to have meaning in the 21st century, but you will find it familiar enough to get the drift. I thought it was worth sharing.

Nostalgia

by R Bell ©

Remember when HIPPIE meant big in the hips
And a TRIP involved travel, in cars , planes and ships?
When POT was a vessel for cooking things in
And HOOKED was what grandmother’s rug might have been?
When FIX was a verb that meant mend or repair
And BE IN meant simply existing somewhere?
When NEAT meant well-organised, tidy and clean
And GRASS was a ground cover, normally green
When lights and not people were TURNED ON and off
And the PILL might have been what you took for a cough!
And CAMP meant to quarter out-doors in a tent
And POP was the way that the weasel went?
When GROOVY meant furrowed with channels and hollows,
And BIRDS were winged creatures like FINCHES and SWALLOWS?
When FUZZ was a substance that’s fluffy like lint,
And BREAD came from bakeries, not from the mint?
When SQUARE meant a 90-degree angled form
And COOL was a temperature not quite so warm?
When ROLL meant a bun, and ROCK was a stone,
And HANG_UP as something you did to the phone?
When FUZZ was a substance that’s fluffy like lint,
And BREAD came from bakeries, not from the mint?
When SQUARE meant a 90-degree angled form
And COOL was a temperature not quite so warm?
When ROLL meant a bun, and ROCK was a stone,
And HANG_UP was something you did to a phone?
When JAM was conserves that you spread on your bread
And CRAZY meant barmy, not right in the head?
When CAT was a feline – a kitten grownup
And TEA was a liquid you drank from a cup?
When SWINGER was someone who swung in a swing
And PAD was a soft sort of cushiony thing?
When WAY OUT meant distant and far, far away?
And a man couldn’t sue you for calling him GAY
When DIG meant to shovel and spade in the dirt
And PUT-ON was something you did with a shirt?
When TOUGH described meat too unyielding to chew
And MAKING A SCENE was a rude thing to do?
Words once so sensible, sober and serious
Are making the FREAK SCENE quite PSYCHEDELIIOUS
It’s GROOVY MAN GROOVY But English it’s not
Me thinks that our language has gone straight to POT….

For those of you born long, long after Haight-Ashbury was the scene, a couple of glosses:

Hang-up: problem, neurosis
Crazy: awesome
Tea: weed
Pad: your home, where you crash
Way out: awesome (or, if you’re from Boston, “wicked pissah”)
Birds: girls
Fuzz: The police
Dig: understand[1]

The Old Wolf hath goodly spoke.


[1] It has been suggested that “Do you dig it” has a connection to the Gaelic “An dtuigeann tu” (do you understand), which on the other side of the pond morphed into “do you twig it?”

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