Humour Archive

Scraps of humour research presented here for your consumption. Comments welcome.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Linguistic Geek (Word Nerd)

Blossoming into full 'blognerdiness', I have recently, with some friends, embarked on a Quest. It was on this quest that I found this gem of an article at Sterne talking about Computer Nerds and Naughty Words. It is so well written that it made me laugh, but the actual content is quite disturbing, especially given the links between arousal and violence.

So why am I posting this on a 'Humour Archive'? I'm interested to know:

- Why is the image of 'deviant dweebs' is amusing?

- Would we be amusing if jocks were making similar threats?
- Is it simply to format of the particular article that makes it funny?
- How is it that we can be amused and yet sickened, as Jon seems to be, at the same time?
- Is it the fact that we are sickened that makes us amused and promts us to create humour?


Blogger Daniel said...

Having more than a passing familiarity with 'deviant dweebs' (and there are many variations within the wide world of geekdom) I cannot say I find them amusing in-and-of themselves (the more well-adjusted ones I find perfectly lovely company while the more far-gone ones I just find frustrating). However I did laugh aloud once I got to: ...the second pimply youth giggled, “Yeah, it was me. I raped him so hard!”...

At that moment I instantly knew it was some sub-cultural euphemism. It was the incongruity of the statement and the person making it that was funny. Also the situation of the non-initiated eavesdropper helped make it funny. Jocks saying the same thing would be a tad more disturbing in that sexism and violence is more usually associated with that stereotype.

I personally think that this application of sexual and violent terminology has a number of sources that happen to come together in this particular computer gamer scene. We cannot simply attribute it to nerdiness (which, as I say, is a diverse thing).

The age of the perps is relevant - teenagers devise slang that is deliberately disrespectful. I am reminded of the current usage of 'gay' among young persons to indicate disapproval (e.g. "John spends all of recess with girls - how gay is that!").

Then there is the fact that practically all in the group are male. This will contribute to a particular way of interacting and communicating that is ultra-blokey and in many ways comparable to the male-dominated culture of jocks.

Finally there are the computer games themselves, which are violent to start with, and themselves draw on genres like action movies, which utilise crude one-liners of a sometimes violent and sexual nature.

It's all very specific to the particular kind of scene discussed, rather than all nerds. If I seem defensive of nerds here, it is because I am one, thoroughly, and I also have a rather overdeveloped 'political correctness chip' (which can malfunction under conditions of stress, sleep deprivation or alcohol), so the last thing I want is for anyone to identify nerds with such uncouth lingo.

But I still found it funny, in spite of myself.

1:42 am  
Blogger TimT said...

It's because of the linguistic richness of the phrase 'deviant dweebs'. Long 'e' in both words, and the way that 'v' and 'w' are sounds closely related to one another; makes it a musical phrase to pronounce and listen to.

Jon's on a roll at the moment!

3:40 pm  
Blogger AJ said...

Oh my God.... that "Sex and Violence, Nerd Style" post over at Sterne was HILARIOUS. My brother and I have on occasion used the term 'rape' when talking about video games or watching tv/film (mainly science fiction, of course!). Oh, and Worf IS a character on Star Trek, not Sapir-Whorf...

On occasion the term 'to rape' has slipped out in most inappropriate times. One instance that I recall was when my brother (or me, it was a while ago...) said "Whoa, he totally raped her!" at a Mario Kart tournament in 1999 or so I believe. One male contestant performed a tricky, surprising and cunning turtle shell manoevre on his opponent, a female. I gave him a high-five for his apt description and also due to the fact that this turtle shell stunt probably meant he, I or a collective 'we' climbed the ladder in the tournament due to this one turtle shell move slowing the female participant so much that she lost the race and eliminated her from the finals. As we high-fived, others' mouths hung open aghast.

The usage of other terms in paragraph seven of the post over at Sterne was bizarre to say the least (you'll have to read it yourself, cos it's definitely not PG). Re-reading the terms, it's making me laugh even more. I can just imagine these words pouring out of young men at LAN HQ, no matter how filthy they are... Why can I imagine that? What is it about these sex-words when used in relation to video games that seems to work?

tim's comments over at Sterne is hilarious too... what a funny discussion thread!!!

To Jon (above), I agree wholeheartedly with your description that the term 'gay' can be used to alienate and extracate others. To think that a word that once meant "happy/joyous" can now mean "stupid" is indeed a way that language suits the purposes of those saying it. An example of language as an inclusive/exclusive duality. Such a term (gay) can now have a dual meaning, depending on the word's audience and its user.

Consider me, too, a word nerd.
Can I have badge or do we have a secret handshake, or even better a language all of our own??

2:10 pm  
Blogger AJ said...

I should say "to Daniel (above)", not "Jon", sorry...

my bad

2:13 pm  
Anonymous Hooch said...

I love these long comments, gives you something you can really stick your teeth into...

Daniel - I think this kind of talk would have to be some kind of sub-cultural anti-euphemism ("A euphemism is an expression intended by the speaker to be less offensive...than the word or phrase it replaces" - Wiki). I agree with you on most other points, though I think there has been a terminal (read:terminological) mixup: when I used the term 'deviant dweebs', I was meaning to refer specifically to the uncouth subgenre in question, and not any old couth dweeb you happen to find lying around (read: rest of the larger, non-deviant dweeb community, many of whom are my most intimate acquaintances).

TimT - that's a very Saussurian thought.

AJ - I'm shocked! I can't even hear those words coming out of you mouth in my mind's ear! But that must have been the funniest scene to look back on. (You didn't happen to be in an interweb cafe in early July, did you?)

I'm glad it's not just me that found this post hilarious. I had a niggling suspicion that I may have been just me and that all my readers would have been shocked and appalled at my lack of taste and poor judgement.

10:19 pm  
Anonymous Hooch said...

*this post=Sterne's post, not mine.

3:13 pm  
Blogger Halliwell said...

- Why is the image of 'deviant dweebs' is amusing?

I believe there is two many is' in that sentence, is that part of ur linguistic humour that I don't get or just a stuff up?

6:10 pm  

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