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Is this a new conjunction slash what is its function?
April 25, 2013 6:08 AM   Subscribe

Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore - Anne Curzan writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a new slang word that she learned from her undergraduate students in a History of English course slash analyzes how it fits with traditional parts of speech.
posted by codacorolla (79 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I actually had to scroll up to check the dateline on this article and make sure it wasn't pre-columbian.

We were doing this back in the 80s at least.
posted by DU at 6:13 AM on April 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Before I read the article, I thought you screwed up your Post text, slash I'm old.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:13 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


In northern British English the word "slash" can also be used instead of "piss". So you can take a slash. If you go out on the piss, or out on the slash, you would be going out drinking.
posted by 13twelve at 6:14 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh, cool! I hadn't thought about it in these terms, and some of those uses are definitely novel to me.
posted by kavasa at 6:15 AM on April 25, 2013


Descriptivists/Prescriptivists hatesex anthropomorfic, go!
posted by kmz at 6:16 AM on April 25, 2013 [23 favorites]


...slang is humans’ linguistic creativity at work, not linguistic corruption...

There's no mutual exclusivity though, is there? It can be both.

We were doing this back in the 80s at least.

You were typing out the word "slash" when you meant "/"? Really? Why? I can see how this strange usage might be influenced by the inadequate keyboards on mobile devices, but otherwise, it's doing more work to make one's writing harder to read.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:17 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


We were doing this back in the 80s at least.

All of those uses, though? #3, sort of making compound words using it, is familiar to me but the other ones are new to me. Slash I definitely don't remember people beginning sentences with it all the time.
posted by XMLicious at 6:17 AM on April 25, 2013


and it quickly became clear to me that many students are using slash in ways unfamiliar to me.

Just terrible things with John and Sherlock. Shameful.
posted by The Whelk at 6:17 AM on April 25, 2013 [58 favorites]


I'm with DU. We were using slash like this before slash was cool slash being written about.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:18 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


#3 definitely. #5 and 6, where you are really listing one of the items ironically (and the "slash" is really more of a "strikeout"), no.
posted by DU at 6:19 AM on April 25, 2013


I fully expected this to be an article about OTP.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:19 AM on April 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


You were typing out the word "slash" when you meant "/"?

No, but language isn't created when it exits a keyboard. It is created when it exits a human.
posted by DU at 6:20 AM on April 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I also think the lengthening of characters used in electronic communication was really interesting. Especially when it seems like so much is condensed to fit into 140 characters and to be consumed on a 4in screen. Slash, damn.kids.get.off.of.my.lawn.
posted by wg at 6:21 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


These were all familiar in spoken usage, but I never would have spelled the word out in written usage.
posted by stopgap at 6:23 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You were typing out the word "slash" when you meant "/"?

I realize that the speech impaired might speak using a keyboarded device, but I don't and my vocal cords don't come with a "/" key. Interestingly enough some people actually still speak with one another!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:25 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought this was going to be about fan fiction where Spock fucks Kirk.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:25 AM on April 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


It seems to me like the first use is a reflection of written communication becoming more speech-like. Communicating via text (such as text messages, twitter and status updates) is a different artform to communicating via traditional written means such as essays, articles and other more formal forms of the written word. The speech-like communcations are a transcription that stands in for what someone is "saying". You can't pronounce a punctuation mark, so you use its name. Hench "slash" instead of "/".

The other meaning of "following up" feels reminiscent of commented-out code. It's a bit like the informal asides that you'd expect to see in parentheses in more formal forms of writing.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:25 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's also a lot less awkward than using the word "cum".
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:26 AM on April 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


There was a Doom Patrol character who spoke like this in the late eighties, although he used "stroke" instead of "slash," being written by a British guy.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:38 AM on April 25, 2013


Slash's Snakepit Slash Slashdot Slash Gordon Slash fiction.
posted by pipeski at 6:42 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of this story from NPR yesterday about kids in Baltimore using "yo" as a gender-neutral pronoun.
posted by briank at 6:45 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


pipeski: Slash's Snakepit Slash Slashdot Slash Gordon Slash fiction.

Hashtag Slash.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:47 AM on April 25, 2013


Just wait till she figures out that shipping doesn't necessarily involve the post office anymore.
posted by jph at 6:48 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of this story from NPR yesterday about kids in Baltimore using "yo" as a gender-neutral pronoun.

Also pre-columbian slash 2004.
posted by amarynth at 6:50 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Next obit thread I'm typing 'dot'.
posted by mazola at 6:52 AM on April 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


In the undergraduate history of English course I am teaching this term, I request/require...

I see what you did there
posted by aparrish at 6:54 AM on April 25, 2013


From comments in this thread it sounds like there's a growth opportunity for a macro-blogging site, where you're required to use more than 1,500 character per post.
posted by codacorolla at 6:55 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the Dickens of the Future: "Well, yeah, he's wordy, but he had to reach the character minimum."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:00 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else grossed out by the tone of this article? Is there any way to write an article like this without it sounding like a Report to the Academic Society about the strange speech habits of the natives?
posted by aparrish at 7:01 AM on April 25, 2013


DU: No, but language isn't created when it exits a keyboard. It is created when it exits a human.
How does it enter the keyboard?

One might imagine that you're semi-deliberately missing the point just so you can go "Pfft, I know so much more about English than the linguist and English prof with an explicit interest in slang and modern colloquial usage does."
The 10th Regiment of Foot: ...my vocal cords don't come with a "/" key. Interestingly enough some people actually still speak with one another!
The article makes it really clear that the author is studying written and typed communication, not spoken communication. The examples are Facebook posts, blog posts, etc. This is the usual practice in the study of the history of language, because the written examples can be verified and dated. Our universally-recorded near-future might change this in the far-future, but we're not really there yet.
We were using slash like this before slash was cool slash being written about.
If you were using "slash," the typed-out-word, as a nearly-pointless first word of a sentence, as a synonym for ";", in written communications, many years ago, then I really think you were the only one.

For example: You remember people using "slash" in particular ways. Slash I think you misremember.

I think it's a lot more likely that you remember "slash" being used (in more conventional ways) in spoken English back in the day. Which is what your example ("was cool slash being written about") demonstrates. I remember that, too. This post is about something else.
posted by Western Infidels at 7:06 AM on April 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have no idea how these people got a guitarist stuck in their sentences.
posted by arcticseal at 7:10 AM on April 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think this is really all that new. The way that the students are using "slash" is basically the way you'd write using hyphens instead of spaces, only without actually using the hyphens.

E.g., to use one of the examples from the article:
Does anyone care if my cousin comes and visits slash stays with us Friday night?
If it were written like so, it wouldn't attract much attention:
Does anyone care if my cousin comes and visits-slash-stays with us Friday night?
It's a bit awkward and verbose — why do the "word-slash-word" thing when you could just do "word/word" — except that it suggests to the reader that the "slash" actually has meaning and isn't just something you're doing while writing because you can't find the right word. In that sense, it's effective.

What the students seem to be doing in most of their examples is simply not using the hyphens between words, and instead just using spaces. That's pretty ugly, but understandable in the context of an online chat or something where you're typing quickly. The hyphen key is sort of unfortunately placed on the keyboard, so dropping it when it's not absolutely necessary is understandable.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:12 AM on April 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Axl Rose: still just a giant question mark.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:14 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


as a nearly-pointless first word of a sentence, as a synonym for ";"

To be fair, it's not entirely a synonym for a semicolon. It can be used for sarcasm slash signaling the speaker's true intent. (Eww, that feels dirty to type out though.)
posted by stopgap at 7:17 AM on April 25, 2013


I was referring to written ans well as spoken english, period.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:18 AM on April 25, 2013


/ and burn baby. / and burn.
posted by three blind mice at 7:21 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


My very favorite use of the word "slash" was in the seventh-season episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when the season's villain "The First" was taking the form of various dead comrades of the main characters to taunt and manipulate them for his own ends.

When he took the form of the departed Jonathan to try to manipulate his friend (and murderer, but that's beside the point) and fellow nerd Andrew, Andrew addressed him aloud as "Jonathan-slash-The-First", using a common fan naming convention for "mind controlled" and "changling" characters in genre fiction.
posted by The Confessor at 7:27 AM on April 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is anyone else grossed out by the tone of this article? Is there any way to write an article like this without it sounding like a Report to the Academic Society about the strange speech habits of the natives?

It reads like linguistics writing to me. You kinda can't have it without reporting on the strange speech habits of the natives.
posted by scrowdid at 7:33 AM on April 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


/scratches butt, closes tab
posted by Ardiril at 7:39 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Examples 1-3 are surely non-standard but I would call them old hat.

Examples 4-6 I've noticed a lot over the last few years. It's a construction I use now, but I definitely remember a time in my life where I didn't use it (e.g. I would say "Oh I'm studying, and by studying I mean playing Goldeneye" as opposed to "I'm working on my research paper slash commenting on Metafilter." I've come a long way baby.)

Using slash for non-ironic abrupt transitions (example 11) is still a new skill I haven't mastered. Also, the word 'also' works much better than 'slash' in that usage. Also, I need more coffee.
posted by midmarch snowman at 7:54 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


We were definitely doing this in 2003, including the weirder uses. I don't have chat logs in front of me, but I bet we were typing out "slash" too. The core of it (and the reason existing conjunctions don't work) is the speaker wants to express that the two sentences interact in some unusual way, but wants you to figure out the interaction from context.

So in "I really love that hot dog place on Liberty Street. Slash can we go there tomorrow?" the slash says "I would be telling you this anyway, but I also have a selfish motivation which is ...".

In "so what’ve you been up to? slash should we be skyping?" the slash says "and in order to discuss the question I just asked ..."

In "finishing them right now. slash if i don’t finish them now they’ll be done in first hour tomorrow," the slash says "but actually what I just said might well be false, so ...".

I have no idea what it means in "I’ll let you know though. Slash I don’t know when I’m going to be home tonight," but I bet they did -- the fact that they can tell and I can't is part of what makes it work. Slash is by far the most fun conjunction, because it requires context and thought to figure out what it means and allows for all kinds of entertaining implications. I mean, not in a large way, but if you were able to freeze the thought process at that one instant as a reader, that's what would be going on. It lets you get in all this subtlety that would be ridiculous to spell out but makes the thought richer.

Given that "/" basically works as a conjunction already in "he/she", and it's natural to tack on "/it/your mom/the members of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra", people have probably been inventing and reinventing its more ironic uses for ages. Maybe the difference is now we're typing instead of talking, it has the potential to make the full jump from punctuation to word.
posted by jhc at 8:00 AM on April 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Myron Cope, pushing the language forward back in the 90s

Pittsburgh Steelers color commentator Myron Cope gave Stewart the nickname "Slash" due to his abilities as a utility player able to play other positions such as running back / wide receiver / punter / returner.

posted by bendybendy at 8:11 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was puzzled by the fact that they're writing out the full word because I work at a university and see students use textspeak like "u" and "r" even in handwritten communication. Then I remembered that the / key requires an extra second to type when you're texting, and was even more work in the early days of texting (or at least it did on my old phone). I wouldn't be surprised if kids found spelling it out to be faster, especially with autocorrect, and that's the impetus here.

On the other hand, I was definitely writing the "word-slash-word" thing for emphasis years ago and I probably learned it from reading informal essayists, so I'm a little surprised that the author is surprised. Though if she'd never heard "adorkable" before her students mentioned it she clearly doesn't spend as much time on the internet as some of us do.
posted by camyram at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Slash" as a sentence-starter is actually just the successor of a long line of words that people have used to function as kind of a verbal throat clearing. Prior examples:
Well...
You know...
Like...
So... (this one came out of academia and has been called the "academic 'so'". Listen to NPR interviews and the like, and you'll hear it constantly when some expert starts their answer to the interviewer's question)
Alors (in France)
posted by beagle at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quote unquote slash period end of paragraph dot dot dot*

Signed Kay Tee Smith hyphen Jones


*Heard every one of these in the 1970s.
posted by Herodios at 8:15 AM on April 25, 2013


I think camyram has the right of it: it's easier to speedily text the word slash than to go to the symbol slash punctuation keyboard and just choose the visual /. Mystery solved.
posted by little mouth at 8:17 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mystery solved.
Not really, spelling it out in place of the either/or symbol is just part of it. Having once started to spell it out, texters et al are now using "slash" as a word in new ways, such as as a sentence-starter that functions as a topic-shifter. Look for it to show up that way in spoken speech as well.
posted by beagle at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Slash" as and/or is not so new, but starting a sentence with slash or using it to introduce a sidebar (as in also, moreover, by the way, etc) is pretty novel and pretty far afield from how the punctuation mark is generally used. I wonder if the loop will get closed and the mark will start being used like that too, maybe drawing some analogy from the Farkesque signoff. Slash now I feel old. Slash I totally teased someone for doing this IRL and now I feel a little bad. Gotta tamp down those prescriptivist tendencies I internalized in sixth grade or whatever.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2013


Heard every one of these in the 1970s
Now I wouldn’t write that phrase down that way, with the slash spelled out, but students tell me they now often do.

Aaugh! To quick to post my little joke, I missed that.

Still: I have seen all of these written out except for slash, 'tho not so much in college papers, and not all of them as far back as the 1970s.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2013


Yes, please read the whole article. The novel usage is not just spelling out slash pronouncing the word "slash".

After example 6:

If the story of slash ended there, with a perfectly logical semantic extension of slash from its more conventional use, I wouldn’t be writing about it here on Lingua Franca.

The novel usage is using "Slash" to start a new related sentence.

I think it's basically being used as a newline character in contexts where hitting enter would submit the post.

It initially reminded me of software comments, but I think it's more analogous to the way lyrics or poetry can be transcribed without line breaks:

"I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree."
posted by designbot at 8:32 AM on April 25, 2013


I was thinking it's an extension/mutation of the usage where it has the same sense as HTML closing tags, as in "/rant" or "/nerd" or "/thread."


And here I thought this was going to be about the guy with the cool hat from Guns 'N Roses.
posted by Foosnark at 8:35 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


...or on message boards that require posts to be 10 characters long,

"No. /10chars"
posted by Foosnark at 8:37 AM on April 25, 2013


"I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree."

I think that I shall never see slash a poet worse than I.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:37 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I have been trying to deal with this recently, since I get sent a lot of weird conjunctions from coalition partners that have to be bashed back down into AP style, and the something-slash-something else construction ends up being a thing I have to rewrite often.

Aside from text, I wonder how much the IRC protocols have to do with it, since those sort of morphed into something where you'd give your mood/non-verbal communication after the fact with the "/facetious command." That's where I remember seeing most of it, in the "/sarcasm" vein.
posted by klangklangston at 8:51 AM on April 25, 2013


/me also points out IRC /command conventions that have sneaked into non-irc contexts.

see also: :wq, s/x/y
posted by idiopath at 9:05 AM on April 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


klangklangston:I wonder how much the IRC protocols have to do with it... That's where I remember seeing most of it, in the "/sarcasm" vein.
I'm sure (/nods) IRC is one influence, as pointed out by at least one other comment above.

I think HTML and XML style closing tags must be another, particularly at the end of a paragraph: "/snark," "/sarcasm," "/captainobvious" etc.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:14 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


My students told me this semester that tweaker is slang for slut. It also still means a meth head, I guess. That annoyed me. This slash business annoys me. Now get off my lawn.
posted by angrycat at 9:44 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


> see also: :wq

And EOT.

I catch myself accidentally :wq'ing a lot (including here), though I notice & correct it when it fails to do what I want. What truly sucks is when I'm using a gui takes the esc as a reason to close the input window and trash everything I've written, invariably after I've spent 20 minutes typing a long comment. Then again, those are usually ranty and-slash-or tangential derails, so maybe it's best that they just get blown away.

:q!
posted by Westringia F. at 9:49 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


jhc are you saying it's kind of like a wink, eyeroll or shrug? A way of implying "there is more to this than my words, you have to figure out what"?
posted by emjaybee at 10:28 AM on April 25, 2013


Some of them sound like the slashed part is supposed to be said sotto voce and as an aside to the audience.

/realizes half of my MeFi posts look like this.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:03 AM on April 25, 2013


Real, live college student here! My friends and I use this constantly. Slash I think we assumed it was more characteristic of our group than youth in general, but everyone probably thinks that. For the record, I didn't begin the previous sentence with "slash" just as a reference to the topic at hand; it's my first instinct most of the time, but I work around it in "mature" forums like MeFi. In spoken-slash-Facebook-chat English, though, the frequency of my-slash-our usage would probably seem obnoxious to you all. I have had fairly long conversations where every single sentence started with "slash."

I've heard it said that teenage girls are the primary drivers of linguistic change in American society, so this is basically unsurprising. Slash I think most of my Facebook messages from certain friends would barely be comprehensible to anyone over 30. "i wish i could have giffed the moment she told arex she was trazzed. slash chundered all over his boat shoes."

(Let's not forget about the spoken hashtag. One of my friends broke up with her boyfriend of six months, and his first spoken response was "hashtag sadness." Which she took as a sign of immaturity. Go figure.)
posted by Starmie at 11:37 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


All these damn kids and their damn slashes need to get the hell off my lawn.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 11:49 AM on April 25, 2013


One of my friends broke up with her boyfriend of six months, and his first spoken response was "hashtag sadness."

She made the right decision.
posted by emjaybee at 11:53 AM on April 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


So this is fascinating - I've never heard of this usage of "slash" before, and I certainly don't remember people talking this way in my corner of the 80s. I also just did a quick check on a dataset I have of IM conversations among college students (collected in late 2011 - early 2012), and I found zero instances of "slash." I wonder if it's at all regional? Socioeconomic?

Anyway, I'm going to ask my students about this tonight and will report back.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 11:53 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this is a good place to remind everyone that there is no "backslash".

It's called "whack"

I hate it when I tell someone to type a "slash" and they ask if I mean "forward" slash.

/ducks
posted by mmrtnt at 11:59 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


i wish i could have giffed the moment she told arex she was trazzed. slash chundered all over his boat shoes

I'm seriously reading this like the mutant slang in The Dark Knight Returns.

"arex went billy berserk when that chicken leg chundered all over his boat shoes. my mon arex don't shiv. arex balls nasty."
posted by maqsarian at 12:39 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Starmie, what does the "slash" mean in this sentence? Slash I think we assumed it was more characteristic of our group than youth in general, but everyone probably thinks that.

Does it mean "as an aside"? I understand some of the examples ("slash chundered all over his boat shoes" makes sense to me) but in some cases it just feels extraneous. I'm curious about what I'm missing!

(Yes, I am over 30.)
posted by cider at 1:07 PM on April 25, 2013


Now THIS is why your phone needs an extendable keyboard.

Starmie, what does the "slash" mean in this sentence? Slash I think we assumed it was more characteristic of our group than youth in general, but everyone probably thinks that.

It seems to be a connector with the previous sentence/phrase, i.e.

"My friends and I use "slash" constantly--I think we assumed it was more characteristic of our group than youth in general."

The author shows similar uses, but I think they are conflated:

I really love that hot dog place on Liberty Street. Slash can we go there tomorrow?

In that case, "slash" means, "hey regarding that thing I just said ..." - I think that's most comparable to Starmie's usage.

so what’ve you been up to? slash should we be skyping?

In that case, "slash" proposes two questions, of which either can be answered to resolve the general line of inquiry.

Has anyone seen my moccasins anywhere? Slash were they given to someone to wear home ever?

In that case, the "slash" precedes a specific use case of the former general use case, i.e. someone who was given them to wear home would have certainly "seen" them. It suggests the asker's best guess of what might have happened to the moccasins.

I’ll let you know though. Slash I don’t know when I’m going to be home tonight

In that case, "slash" precedes an alternative explanation to a query, providing further info.

finishing them right now. slash if i don’t finish them now they’ll be done in first hour tomorrow

In that case, "slash" introduces a conditional phrase that clarifies the former statement.

It seems like these are all fairly new ways of using the term, and I've never seen anybody spell it out.

Still ... why not use the fucking symbol? Alt + / still has to be faster than typing S L A S H.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:20 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that this might be a function of more and more communication being in text slash literally being in txt messages. The slash is a space and effort saving way of combining thoughts and communicating some vocal nuance that is lost in the medium (like a pause, or a change in inflection). That's my guess, anyway. It'd be interesting to do a linguistic analysis on Twitter networks of teens, match it against real-life usage, and try to trace the usage through popular culture.
posted by codacorolla at 1:26 PM on April 25, 2013


Hmm. It occurs to me that "slash" can be replaced by "actually" or "well, actually" in each of the examples and they'll all sound perfectly normal (to me as a 30-something who habituated to the use of "actually" as syntactic filler). So maybe "slash" is just the new "actually" rather than being something totally new? Is there anyone who uses both who can comment on when you'd choose one over the other?
posted by Westringia F. at 3:04 PM on April 25, 2013


jhc are you saying it's kind of like a wink, eyeroll or shrug? A way of implying "there is more to this than my words, you have to figure out what"?

I was going to say something like that -- that it's the raised eyebrow of conjunctions. It suggests some entertaining connection between the two sentences that the listener should appreciate, a connection that might turn out to be anywhere from obvious to non-existent.

At this point I'm imagining the grumpy-old-man voice saying, "dagnabbit, it looks more like a verbal tic to me. Lots of these examples would make just as much sense with a plain ol' period."

To which I'd respond, we have many grammatical forms that are nearly interchangeable with a period. For example, think about the difference between: We like putting subtly different spins on the basic concept that one thought leads into the next.

Oh! Yet another way to think about the particular spin added by "slash" is that the two thoughts should exist together, rather than one after the other. This connects to chat-based conversations too, where it's not uncommon to have two threads going simultaneously with the same person, since you can write on one topic while they're responding on another.

So in "please give this to him/her" you're supposed to think of "him" and "her" at the same time, not one leading into the other. You could turn the slash into a vinculum and write it like this:

                       him
please give this to -----------
                       her

It's interesting to go and look at other slash sentences the same way. Like:

                                   JUST SAW ALEX!
[hey we haven't talked in a while] -----------
                                   I just chubbed on oatmeal raisin cookies at north quad and i miss you

You're getting both simultaneously. It's a fun way to read.
posted by jhc at 3:21 PM on April 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


(And in a perfect world, there's something poetic about simultaneously feeling both of those things, that isn't expressed by feeling them consecutively.)
posted by jhc at 3:24 PM on April 25, 2013


(Since so many people seem to be getting hung up on this, I'll note that [in my experience] it's a matter of taste whether you use the symbol or the word in written communication. I usually use the symbol. Either way, you say "slash" when speaking.)
posted by Starmie at 3:58 PM on April 25, 2013


I have an odd feeling that I used to use this as a too-cerebral-for-my-own-good teenager in the late 90's, but stopped when people in my small rural hometown had no idea WTF I was saying.

I would not have typed the slash, in fact my use of this came from communicating via chat and message board, where you'd write "I can't go this weekend because my mom is pissed at me/I have a paper to write/I think a bunch of people are going to the Mephiskapheles show Saturday anyway."
posted by Sara C. at 9:14 PM on April 25, 2013


Slash never really stood a chance; was older, more sophisticated, had traveled the world. Slash always had a thing for sophisticated punctuation. But it wasn't just that; was ethereal, delicate, often misunderstood. Slash couldn't hide his infatuation; was startled at first, but was soon swept up in a rush of unfamiliar emotions slash brought to life. Slash was new. Slash was young but confident. Slash was ironic and knowing, whether that irony was real or just a mask for inexperience; almost preferred the second way. Slash was so similar under the surface. Slash was also misunderstood; knew all too well the feeling of being doubted and misplaced; daydreamed of what they might create by bringing contrasting, yet related, viewpoints together.

So it was a real shame when their first date was interrupted by --

slash/semicolon slash
posted by jhc at 7:14 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh! Yet another way to think about the particular spin added by "slash" is that the two thoughts should exist together, rather than one after the other.

I think that's the whole gist of the new usage. The intention of simultaneous expression.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:11 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I less than three slash.
posted by perhapsolutely at 11:42 AM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is fascinating. I'm only 2 years out of college, and I've never heard it in my life. Is it regional? Slash am I just uncool.
posted by Gordafarin at 1:03 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


So my anecdotal report of my conversation with my undergrads Thursday night was that only 1 of them had heard of using slash this way (the student said he had one friend who wrote like this), and most of the rest of the class thought it was weird, particularly the later examples in the article. My sense is that this may be an evolving usage, maybe partially regional, but it's definitely interesting and worthy of further study. One thing that might help elucidate the meanings is if we had more of the surrounding talk from the examples. It would be interesting to see how slash functions within the evolving conversation.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:20 AM on April 27, 2013


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