Book Review: Totes Ridictionary

Holly von Winckel
4 min read
Amazeballs or Abso Awk?
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I love books about words, and I am not alone in this. Most any tome with a title ending in -clopedia, -saurus, or -tionary is pretty darn seductive to folks with this particular kink, and the smooth, pink and black cover of the hardbound Totes Ridictionary sucked me right in. According to the back cover, this book will help me “survive life in a world where text-message abbreviations and Twitter slang are dancing on the grave of the Oxford New English Dictionary.” We’ve all seen some of these words in play, words like cray-cray, twerk, deets, and the truly beloved/abused adorbs. The other words—ones we can’t decipher—those are the words that cause us to pick up the book. Getting tired of hearing a cantankerous uncle or peevish grammarian ask us dafuq we mean by cazh or ledge is a likely impetus to actually purchase the thing. Here, dammit! Read this before you get back on Twitter.

Totes Ridictionary begins with an intro explaining why the book is cheeky and fun, and the lexicon follows. The other half of the book is dedicated to contextual examples, replete with internet-sourced images to complete the learning experience. While I harbor doubts that a reference to Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, or even Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, are going to register much with the hippest of hipsters today, there’s plenty of victoriana and presh pix of pugs to support multigenerational enlightenment. It’s all very tidy and thorough.

The hitch in the giddyup is that people who take plezh in etymology will find this thing totes obnox. The txt-speak words that you use, you already know, understand and feel confident in using, while the ones you don’t know r abso rubs. Language inevs oozes this way and that with use (and disuse), which makes documentation of the usages signif. Unforch, learning to speak well is a tradge fleeting triumph, not unlike buying a magnif puter, only to get home and discover it is outdated before you even get the fucker plugged in. Totes redonk.

While the book itself—the object—is quite nice, the contents are neiths shamazing nor deffo legit. Tomaz there will be nu inexplicable corruptions. Further, some of these terms predate internet and txt msg language abuses. Brill, chillax, natch and nekkid go back to before the dawn of near-universal connectivity … at least in America. This points to a second, perhaps larger issue, which is that the book comes from the UK. American English and British English parted company a long time ago, and there is not a lot to suggest that the Information Age is zipping it neatly back together. Some of the terms in this book are abbreviations for words that Americans don’t much use, at any length.

… unless, and this is very probs the case, I am myself so out of touch with the current assault on English formalities that I am unaware of it. This could be the Slacker Generation’s equivalent of the linguistic blindside the Beat Generation inflicted upon their elders. Can you dig me, cat? Perhaps all the young people and their companions verbalize in this “abbreveballed hashtaggery,” and I am that morto relative or the grammarian who only sees the nause factor here. Having just thought of this, the blates next move is to hurl the book into a crowd of teenagers and see what they do with it, besides wondering why a cray-cray old lady is hurling things at them.

Maybe this is the hilar, ironic jab at linguistic mutation it claims to be, or maybe it is just another tentacle of the printernet industry, dragging the bottom of the internet for faddishly popular content and immortalizing it on dead trees. Praps this is the ultimate gift book to have handy for emerge gifting, when you really need to have a gift for someone you don’t know. Better safe than soz, amiright? Indeed, it certainly is a good candidate for regifting. If you get this, and you like the wrapping paper, be gentle with it, and then pass on this Vaguely Inexplictionary to someone else for their infotainment. Best not to mensch that you found a lot of it dodge, or next convo with your bestie is gonna be emosh awks.
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