RE: WORD (As in Doonesbury comic of 2-22-04)
show host talks to the Rev. Pat Robertson over the phone about how God
has foretold the presidential election results to Pat Robertson. The fact
that God supposedly used the word "like" as in "Bush's
margin would be like a blowout," is discussed. The radio person's
response is "Word." To which Robertson replies, "Actually
God started that one."
Dear Robert ,
This is an interesting question, because it doesn't just address word meanings, but also context. The humor of this comic strip relies on the reader's understanding of what kind of language people should use depending on their social status. Before I talk about word, let me give a little background. For those who haven't seen it, Doonesbury is a cartoon that comments on American politics and society.
In this edition, fictional radio show host Mark calls real-life religious conservative Pat Robertson after reading Robertson's claim that God had predicted a huge victory for Bush in next fall's presidential election. Here's the conversation from the cartoon:
Oddly enough, Robertson really did say some of that in January, 2004. His original quote was, "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way." Cartoonist Garry Trudeau pokes fun at him not only for making such an outrageous claim, but also for using undignified slang expressions inappropriate for his age and position.
Like as used here is a meaningless word employed heavily by American teenagers to fill pauses in speech (for example: "The band was, like, so great and I was like dancing and singing along, like, you know?")
Mark responds with the equally inappropriate expression point spread, a term for the difference between winning and losing scores in a game (used primarily in sports gambling). But rather than returning to more formal language, Robertson continues the metaphor by using blowout (an easy victory), another casual word used largely in sports.
When Robertson offers an explanation as to how God may have learned
to talk like a teenager, Mark agrees with him by saying "Word."
In this sense, it shows his approval and is similar to the older slang
expression, You said it! Word is also
often used by rappers to emphasize that there can be no argument with
what has just been said, as in having the last word.
As an example, Nas says in the song Black Girl Lost,
"Can't understand it, yo it should be a throne for us / But for now
that's a whole different zone from us, word!"
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