Friday, September 27, 2013

2079 Hootenanny

Maybe I get obsessed with words. But just because we use something everyday doesn't mean we should scorn it. It's okay to love socks too, and revel in the way they cozy up your feet.

So when I encounter or reencounter a word like hootenanny, it's okay to spend some time reflecting on its origins. Back in the sixties there was actually a show on TV called Hootenanny. One of those shows meant to counter or compliment another show. In this case, the other show was named Shindig. You could choose between Shindig or Hootenanny. Or the Flintstones and the Jetsons, or Laugh-in and Hee-Haw. I always thought Hee-Haw and Hootenanny should get married.

Maybe on Green Acres. 

Hootenanny, it turns out, first meant a gadget, then a device used by car thieves, and finally an informal gathering of musicians. What gathering musicians had in common with breaking into cars we'll never know. Words are funny.

But on the face of it hootenanny really sounds pretty nonsensical. Like the new word listicle making the rounds. A listicle is a blog or article form that just lists things. Top three reasons to date again. Top four examples of poor writing. Or top ten reasons listicles suck.

It doesn't take a genius to see the listicle emerged from the David Letterman Top Ten list. Pretty cool, I guess, that a comedic entertainment device wriggled its way into the real world. 

I'm not entirely comfortable with the word listicle however, as it bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the word describing those reproductive organs sometimes imitated dangling from the backs of trucks. 

Listicle hangs pretty low on my top ten branches of the bad language tree. Right down there with “for shizzle.”

But that's me. My nanny wouldn't have given a hoot about it. 
America, ya gotta love it.

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