Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Old Words Cluttering Up Our Understanding of Each Other

My wife is six years younger than me and at times that can be a bit of a problem because our cultural reference points are so far from each other and yet, by far, the most difficult thing is our mixed lexicons. Last night was a prime example of this when we were discussing a friend of her's from college. My wife was lamenting her friend's situation and during the course of looking at some of her photos on Instagram she made the comment that the girl was looking so "ratchet."

Now for me a ratchet is something you use to tighten up a bolt so I gave her a look and gingerly asked, "She's a mechanic?"

"What," my wife asked with a look that bordered on smelling a fart. 

"You said she's looking so ratchet."

A blank stare met me. And then it lingered before she finally said, "That's not what ratchet means."

"Oh?"

"It means that she looks all messed up," she said as she waved her hand about her face. "Her hair looks like hell. Her make-up is smeared. Things are just not right in her life. You know, ratchet."

"We call that fucked up in this house," I said in my best disapproving tone, "and I'll hear  no argument from you."

"God, you're so old."

Emmanuel and Phillip Hudson dressed as Ratchet Girls

13 comments:

  1. I feel you, there. My wife is 8 years younger and I run into the same things!

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    1. Weirdest thing about the age difference is when you talk about something that is universal in your age group and they look at you like you're a crazy person!

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  2. Ratchet? Are you sure she wasn't saying "rat-shit"? That's a common phrase here in Oz.

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    1. Nope, it's ratchet (cause I checked several times).

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  3. Or maybe it's a distortion of "wretched?"

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    1. I think it may well be a distortion of wretched originally, but it is spelled and said the way I've written it.

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  4. This is my entire main gaming group.

    Star Trek

    Me and Everyone I grew up with: 'Original Series'

    My Group: 'Next Generation and Forward.'

    Comic Books

    Me and Everyone I grew up with: "Silver Age - Bronze Age - Big Two - Marvel and DC - Yay Costumes! Yay Secret Identities! Yay Robot Apes!"

    My Group: "90s and Modern Age - Indie Comics - Deconstruction - Colorful costumes and code names are lame. Trench coats, black military gear. Yay Psycho Serial Killers with Guns!"

    Makes me want to puke.

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    1. Okay, true fact here. I grew up reading the bargain bin comics so I almost completely missed out on the 90s comics (I could get 20 comics from the 70s and 80s for what it cost me for three modern comics)!

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  5. We used to use "ratched" in the 80s ... "All ratched up". P'raps the internet era has spell-checked it into ratchet oblivion.

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    1. I don't know. My wife says she picked it up when she was teaching at that inner city school a few years ago.

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  6. I'm the youngster in my marriage (I'm in my mid-40s so "youngster" is a relative term) which might explain why I haven't experienced this kind of generational communication issue. My wife probably has though ... I remember the look on her face when I explained what Little John was referring to when he would exclaim "Skeet! Skeet! Skeet!" in a song. As for ratchet, if the article I found is correct the term has its roots in the Cedar Grove neighborhood in Shreveport and does seem to be derived from wretched. In the late 90s, Shreveport rappers used it in a song and, by the early 2000s, the term started being used by other Southern rappers so it spread across the Dirty South.

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    1. I've always hated the term "Dirty South." Something about it just rubs me the wrong way and I've never been able to quite figure out what.

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  7. I have heard it used to refer to a pistol..
    So there is that.

    I'm also to old to know wtf it really means to any one, beyond :
    "Hand me that {ratchet} the muffler just fell of that piece of shit lawn mower again" (sizzle) "DAMN! that things hot..."
    Which it's how it's used in Oxfords Dic.

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